Sunday, November 29, 2009
Junior Mints: Peppermint Crunch
Junior Mints are one of those candies that I like, but I never seem to actually eat, just because...uh, I dunno why. Any candy awesome enough to make it in as a reference in a Jimmy Buffett lyric is OK in my book. (Bonus points if you can name the song without Googling!) But somehow, I just never seem to think of them.
This holiday version of Junior Mints features the classic dark chocolate outside, the mint fondant center, and -- purely based on the name and the picture on the box -- one would assume crushed up pieces of actual mint hard candies.
Reality, however, is a harsh mistress. And just as I have had to accept certain truths as I've gotten older -- i.e., that I will never be over five feet tall, that my hair will not outgrow its natural tendency to form a Seth Rogen style 'fro, and that my best friend will never admit that Kirk in fact WAS the better Captain (this debate has been raging for more than 15 years) -- I have also had to accept that there are not really little crushed up bits of hard peppermint candy in the Junior Mints Peppermint Crunch.
Oh, don't get me wrong -- there are little hard bits of something embedded in these Junior Mints. That's inescapable. As you can see from the pictures, the surfaces of the not-exactly-an-orb candies are freckled with what look like little candy zits. But are they teeny-tiny bits of broken candy cane or Starlight mint? I tried my best to isolate the little zit-bits and about the only answer I can come up with is that they are simply red-colored hard sugar. And about the only flavor I could pick up was the bitter aftertaste of the food dye.
Let's be honest: the chocolate on even the standard Junior Mints is nothing great. It's waxy and not exactly complex, but it does hold its own with the mint fondant. With this version, maybe it's because the proportions are different (these are a bit bigger than standard Junior Mints), maybe it's the little crunchy zit things...but the chocolate outer shell is worse for the wear. It seems more crumbly. And the aftertaste from the zit-bits is so strong that it overrides the chocolate flavor.
The mint fondant center is still the best part. It's slight grainy and yet weirdly smooth at the same time. It's cool on the tongue and tastes more like peppermint oil than candy.
Overall, I think the addition of the crunchy pieces make this candy a fail. The aftertaste from the red dye is the strongest flavor next to the mint. It makes the overall texture strangely gritty. It takes everything nice about classic Junior Mints and makes it funky -- and not funky in the good way. I don't think Jimmy will be writing a special song about how great this version is.
And neither will I.