Monday, November 05, 2007

Ode to Mint MMs

I'm an avowed chocoholic.

Not just any chocolate, though. Not me. I've done my time, honed my taste. I prefer European chocolate to American, dark but not bitter, and hazelnuts or almonds rather than peanuts. I like chocolate with an essence of orange or mint. I like it to melt in my mouth.

I'm not so much of a chocolate snob, however, that I don't appreciate a good M&M now and again. In fact, my family likes to sprinkle M&Ms in our popcorn for movie night, preferably when the popcorn is still warm so that the chocolate inside the M&M candy shell turns soft and gushy.

Once a year, M&M Mars offers the Mint M&Ms. Those are my absolute favorite. Since they're only available at Christmas time, I've been known to stock up on them and ration them out throughout the year. If I was lucky, I'd hit Target or a grocery store the day after Christmas and buy out their stock at half price. When we lived in Japan and I couldn't find them in the stores, a dear friend used to send a package to me, paying probably triple what it was worth - monitarily, at least. I treasured each bag I received and eked them out, a few minty mouthfuls at a time. This only partially illustrates my obsession with Mint M&Ms.

It was with great anticipation, then, that I waited for Halloween to come and go this year, and for the stores to start hauling out the Christmas goods. Sure enough, WalMart lead the pack, and festive green and red packages of M&Ms graced the shelves by November 1st. Excitedly, I scanned the labels until I found what I was looking for.

Mint! The packaging was different... last year they were shiny and foil-like, this year they look like any other Holiday M&Ms package, save for the label "peppermint" in the corner. That did give me some pause. Peppermint, huh? That's a little different from previous years' simple 'mint' label, but I figured it was probably the same thing. I grabbed two packages.

In the parking lot (yes, I actually made it to my car before dipping into the shopping bags), I tore open a little corner of the package and appreciatively breathed in the chocolate-mint aroma. I poured a few out into my hand. And stopped.

Rather than the classic M&M size and shape of previous years, these Mint M&Ms resembled Swedish Mints, or the huge Peanut Butter M&Ms, roundish and large. Well. Half the fun of the Mint M&M experience was popping a few in your mouth and savoring the crunch and the feel of the candy as well as the flavor. But, not being one who is typically resistant to change, I gave these new M&Ms a shot.

They taste the same. I still like them quite a lot. But... I don't love the things like I used to. All because of the size and shape? I must be crazy.

But at least that's a few less calories I'll have to worry about working off this season.

Classic Mint M&Ms, rest in peace.