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I love the milk chocolate m&m's that you can get everywhere, so once I found out that you can get other flavours of M&M's, I just had to have them. My gran got me a selection of flavours when she went to America, and this was one of the flavours.
The packaging is similar to the British one because it has the logo the same, and the flavour written on the packet in the same way. The colour of the packet is dark purple, this changes with the flavour, eg in Britain the milk chocolate flavour is brown. The only difference is really that on the back the nutrition is written in a different way since they are from America.
A definite downside to these sweets is that you cant get them many places since they're American and they aren't distributed widely here yet, however I have seen them available in Fenwicks. This is only because they stock American imports though, and the price definitely goes up, as here they cost around £1.00 for a bag. If you bought that size of bag of a flavour you can normally get here, its about 50p so you can tell you're really paying for the delivery from America!
The appearance of the m&m's is very similar to the normal flavours. They are circular sweets, a bit smaller than smarties that come in a variety of colours such as red, yellow, green etc. They have the classic 'M' printed on each sweet, with the flavour printed underneath. They taste just like your average m&m but the crispy shell is now filled with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I would definitely say that this is a good change, the chocolate compliments the shell and it seems like very high quality dark chocolate.
The nutritional information is the same as normal m&m's which means that there is around 150 calories in each packet, fine for a treat! Overall if you can get your hands on some then I would recommend trying some as they are a nice change but they can be hard to come by and quite expensive.
I first ate dark chocolate M&Ms the day I left the wondrous sunshine of Cancun to fly to Mexico City and its wondrous, erm, rainy season. I bought them at the airport planning to take them with me, maybe nibble a few en route, but thanks to the absence of a pre-booked vegetarian meal, and a completely inedible carnivorous one, I ate the whole packet during the 2 hour flight. That doesn't sound too bad, except in Mexico dark chocolate M&Ms are only sold in rather large 'for sharing' packets. I then didn't try them again all year, which kind of sums up my feelings if you don't want to read much more: they're ok, but nothing too special. Not so bad you'd leave half a packet when confined to a tin can with nothing else to munch on, but not so good you'd necessarily want to keep buying them.
That said, a year later, I was in Canada, about to catch a flight back to Europe. Canadians are sensible people, and sell the things in ordinary sized packets. I'd forgotten whether or not I liked them (which should have been a sign that I didn't), so I got another packet, happy that even if I was forced to resort to eating nothing but chocolate on my flight, it wouldn't be too bad a splurge.
These M&Ms seem small, but it may be because I've recently been munching on the various filled varieties, from peanut butter to mint crisp. They're probably normal, milk chocolate M&M sized, but these strangely have the word 'dark' stamped on them below the ubiquitous M. I could understand this if the filling was radically different from normal, perhaps with an ingredient with a high allergy risk, but surely the worst thing that could happen if you ate one of these thinking it was a regular one is that you'd go either "Wow, dark chocolate!" or "Yuck, dark chocolate!". None of the other M&Ms I've tried go for on-the-M labelling, so it all seemed a little odd, unless it's just to confirm to munchers that the product is the dark variety, which should be evident from the flavour... right?
Biting in, you see the chocolate inside is somewhat dark, but also dull, not glossy. It looks almost black, and has a powdery tinge to it. They look darker than normal M&Ms, so that's a good sign. The taste is slightly bitter, even with the sugar of the crispy shell. They're edible but not so moreish that you have to finish the packet immediately and then go looking for a second. The kind that would be good to take to the cinema with you, since they'd probably easily last the entire film (unless it's a back to back Harry Potter / Lord of the Rings marathon). Interestingly, I didn't feel they were as chocolatey as other varieties, though by definition they should be more so. They certainly did not taste like a luxurious, creamy chocolate treat, and more like a semi-sweet pack of generic, slightly-hard sweeties. I thought they needed a tiny bit more in the way of chewing action compared to the milk chocolate version, because the chocolate seemed tougher, and because they were quite small to start with, so the chocolate : shell ratio is not much in the favour of the former.
So how dark is 'dark'? The packet tells me they're a minimum 42% Cocoa solids, so the answer is not very. For a true chocolate connoisseur, looking for a deep, dark chocolate kick, these won't cut it. They're more like a darker version of milk chocolate than a proper, topping up your antioxidants high cocoa treat. The laws in Europe state that anything calling itself dark chocolate has to be at least 35% cocoa solids, so while they're still legal over here, they will compare poorly in the minds of those who favour Lindt with its 70-99% bars, or Green and Blacks (whose standard milk is already 34%).
On the positive side, these are well made, uniform sweets like any other M&Ms. They come in the standard colour range, are small but not fiddly small, and of course will not melt on a hot summer's day, should we ever get one of those. On the negative side, they're just not that good. Americans regularly mess up chocolate, but I was hopeful these would be good since the Hershey's Special Dark is tangy and tasty. Unfortunately, these are rather bland, and it's certainly not worth your while spending your hard earned pennies buying them off eBay when for the same money you could get a nice chunk of proper dark chocolate, or even slum it with Bourneville.
Nutrition wise, each back has the EXACT same number of calories as the regular milk chocolate kind, so they're not even any kinder to your waistline.
Thanks to popular demand, summer 2006 features the launch of one of our most anticipated products M&M's Dark Chocolate Candies! Look for the purple pack and experience these delicious candies for yourself.