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In the USA, M&M's come with a lot more interesting fillings than the ones that we usually have available to buy in this country. Over the last few years I have noticed that it is increasingly easy to buy the American varieties here. One of these is the pretzel filled kind, which I used to only be able to buy in Cyber Candy, a fantastic international sweetshop in Covent Garden, London. Now I buy them from my local independent sweetshop as well as from branches of the Mr. Simms Traditional Sweetshop chain. I first tried them out of sheer curiosity because I couldn't really imagine pretzel and chocolate together, although I have since come across lots of American recipes that combine the two. The packets look similar to the British M&M's, but are bright blue. The sweets themselves are described as "crunchy, salty, sweet" candies. The centre is made from crunchy pretzel pieces, coated in chocolate with the traditional crispy shell. They are bigger than the British sweets, being more like a large Malteser in size. This makes the crispiness more satisfying as you get more crunch in each bit. It isn't made of the bread-like pretzels you can sometimes buy, so the centre is pleasantly crunchy rather than chewy. I only really like crunchy pretzels so this works well for me. They don't actually taste all that salty. I only notice a slight salt tang as a aftertaste once I have ate a whole packet. The sweetness comes from the chocolate coating, but it isn't sickly. It doesn't taste anywhere near as milky as Dairy Milk or Galaxy for example, but this is typical of American milk chocolate in my experience. It's O.K, and the smoothness works well with the crunchy centre but I wouldn't buy these sweets for the chocolate taste alone. They actually smell more strongly of chocolate than they taste. The crispy shell looks like the ones that I am used to in the U.K, and tastes the same too. In other words it is sweet and vividly coloured. It also means that they contain a lot of colourings so these are something to avoid if you don't like to consume too many of these. One packet contains 150 calories. and 3g of saturated fat which is less than I expected even if it doesn't exactly make it a health food. I try and eat everything in moderation so an occasion unhealthy treat doesn't matter too much to me. As they are imported from the U.S.A, they cost more than a standard packet. I pay £1.45 for a 32.3g bag in my local sweetshop, and this is about the average price. Hopefully the cost will come down if larger shops decide to stock them and import them in bulk. I have noticed that they are available from various web shops, but I have not used any of these myself so I can't recommend any supplier in particular. I recommend that you give them a try if you like pretzels or just want to try something different because they certainly are that. If you like the idea of unuusual M&M's keep an eye out for the peanut butter, cookie and coconut filled ones too, all from the U.S.A.
There are so many types of M&Ms out there now that I'm just waiting for them to do the sensible thing and bring out a mixed, Revels-style bag that combines plain, peanut, dark chocolate, mint, strawberry, coconut, almond, peanut butter, crispy...the list goes on. The thing is, with some M&Ms you can tell what you're getting from the shape, and with some you can't. Pretzel M&Ms are virtually identical to Peanut M&Ms in shape, but could not taste more different. Remember Pretzel Flipz? How fab were they? Sweet smooth chocolate and crunchy salty pretzel - it's a flawless combination. They fell out of circulation in the UK and ever since I've been looking for an affordable alternative, which hand dipped pretzels sold by the lb from gourmet chocolatiers really aren't. Now there's a new kind on the block, though, and it's a good 'un. Pretzel M&Ms are just as the name describes. A ball of pretzel, covered in chocolate, sealed in a crisp candy coating. These are of course the hard, crisp pretzels we're talking about, not the doughy bread ones. In fact, my Austrian housemate would say they're not even pretzels at all given the shape, but being an American product they've gone with the Yank notion of naming things pretzel balls, pretzel sticks, pretzel stars and so on, and not reserving the P word simply for quasi-heart shapes with holes punched through. Pretzel M&Ms come in a blue packet, virtually identical to Crispy M&Ms which is why I didn't spot them immediately. There is a subtle difference in the shape - the Crispy ones seem to come in a more compact package, nearer to a square shape, and the Pretzel ones come in a flatter rectangle - but they're still easy to miss unless you know to look for them. There's a picture on the front of a big M&M man showing off an x-ray of his insides. He's made of pretzel (and this time, it's a proper curved heart shape). It's...disturbing, but the calorie claim (only 150 for a big bag) soon won me over again. These M&Ms are back to the original colour mix. They're round balls, noticeably bigger than normal chocolate M&Ms, and perhaps a little fatter than peanut ones, and you get about 15 in a packet. What makes the balls so plump is understandably the pretzel filling, which makes up the majority of each M. This doesn't taste like a generic crisp or biscuit, it tastes exactly like normal pretzels, all toasted and crunchy and salty and delicious. The chocolate layer is your standard American attempt at milk - not all that sweet, and less creamy than UK versions, but a clear chocolate taste. This layer is surprisingly thin to look at, but you definitely notice it's there as you eat, and taste wise they don't appear to have scrimped on it. The final layer, and what turns it from a chocolate coated pretzel ball to a pretzel M&M, is the trademark candy coating. This is identical to that on other items in the range, though you get a little more since the surface area of each ball is larger. This is a thin, crisp layer without too much flavour, but adds another dimension to the texture and of course stops the chocolate melting - something that's never been as important to me as it is right now (this is a country where Dairy Milk and Milka bend....they actually bend). From the first packet, these quickly became one of my favourite types of M&Ms, along with Coconut and Mint. The flavour combo is spot on - a salty kick with a sweet edge - and the texture is great, lovely and crispy but not so hard you worry you'll break a tooth. These are a fairly balanced snack. Each pack gives you 8% of your daily calories, 8% of your max fat, and 8% of your target carbs (for a normal diet). In a weird way, this would seem to suggest you could simply eat 12 packets of these a day (and maybe pop a vitamin pill) and be done with it. They're certainly lower in fat than most chocolate treats, but are very satisfying and simultaneously satisfy my love of all things salty and all things sweet. For me they are more of an any time snack, especially for on the go, and not so much a special after dinner sweet treat the way a square of good chocolate would be. For one thing, they're not quite sweet enough, and for another, they require proper chewing. This isn't a bad thing, but it's worth noting that for a pure chocolate kick, these wouldn't be my first choice. You can buy these in the UK from Cybercandy, either in store (London / Birmingham / Brighton) or online, and probably other stockists too. Expect to pay about £1.35 as they're rare / imported. I get mine in Freetown for about 80p, and in the USA they'll cost you about $1. If you like chocolate covered pretzels, and are ok with M&Ms (or Minstrels) you'll love these. They're simply divine, and I'm off to get me my next bag right now.
Masterfoods / Mars / M&Ms with a pretzel centre.