Monday, February 4, 2013

A Review of Little Debbie’s Valentine’s Day Snack Cakes

Because nothing says “burning desire” quite like individually wrapped brownies and marshmallow bars…

I think it was around the week after Christmas that I started seeing Little Debbie Valentine-themed snack cakes on store shelves. You know, some people would say that’s saturating the market a little early, but I guess it makes sense. I mean, there’s really not the much you can commercialize between New Year’s and February 14, and if somebody manufactured brownies shaped like Martin Luther King, Jr., there would probably be some public backlash of sorts.

Now, just strolling down the dessert aisle at your local grocer, you would be under the impression that Little Debbie - which, if you can believe it, is actually manufactured by a bunch of hardcore Seventh Day Adventists - has released roughly five gillion snack cakes to commemorate Valentine’s Day 2013. The truth, however, is that the company has only released four real snack cakes this year, but they chose to do so with multiple variations - i.e., white cakes, black cakes, red cakes, etc. And if that wasn’t shady enough for you, they even decided to release the same products in mildly differently shaped boxes, to give consumers the illusion of more options than there really are. Hey, it’s a glutted market out there; sometimes, you’ve just got to use Viet Cong tactics every now and then to get your Cosmic Brownies and Zebra Cakes noticed.

Since I’ve already reviewed two years worth of Halloween candies - not to mention a blowout on seasonal treats last Christmas - I figured a thorough review of these newfangled snacks was a decent way to kill an afternoon. And also, it gives me a convenient excuse to drop twenty bucks on chocolate, which is something, Lord willing, I will always have the wits and wherewithal to accomplish every other month or so.

To begin our walking tour of Little Debbie‘s latest seasonal goods, we’ve got “Be My Valentine Cakes,” which come in both black and white hues. The colors there are merely cosmetic, however, because both items taste pretty much identical.

As you can see, the cakes are your standard, heart-shaped treats. There’s a nice zig-zag of additional chocolate on the cakes, which I think is a really nice touch. In a way, it’s kinda’ like the cover of the “Black Album” - you know, with black writing on a black background - but there’s way more crème-filling here than in any Metallica album you’ll ever listen to. Yes, even “Death Magnetic.”

I thought the cakes were just kind of…OK. Truthfully, I’ve never been a huge fan of crème-filled snacks, and these things tasted way to spongy on the inside for my liking. The exterior shelling, however, was pretty yummy, and you can probably chow down on one if your wife leaves one in your lunch bag. It ain’t the best around, but it’s, as the kids say, “a-ight.”

Not content with giving us just “Be My Valentine” snack cakes, this year Little Debbie also gives us “Be My Valentine” iced brownies, which I think is a tremendous way to inflate one’s product lifespan and literal shelf space presence.

The hearts here, however, are a little less impressive looking than with the cakes. While the snack cakes had a nice, rotund quality to them, the brownie hearts look a lot less effortless. The design is a little bit too angular for my tastes, with the edges of the treats looking really sharp instead of cherubic. It’s a plus for Christmas tree facsimiles, but kinda’ negative for internal organ-shaped brownies.

While the design may be a little underwhelming, I liked just about everything else about the brownies, though. For one, you have to dig those little sprinkle hearts, which are certainly a nice touch - even though they ensure that all sorts of romantic crumbs will end up all over the carpet. And the things, of course, taste pretty delicious. Hey, a brownie is still a brownie, no matter which holiday we’re exploiting here.

The “Be My Valentine” marshmallow treats are really the odd-duck out of the bunch, primarily because they are the only seasonal offering that isn’t covered in chocolate ooze. Similarly, while the rest of the Valentine’s stuff is all red and quasi-romantic looking, the box for this one is primarily purple and pink - you know, the colors that seem to imply friendship and socialization instead of profound amour and secretly wanting to do it.

Additionally, I think it goes with saying that these marshmallow treats have the absolute coolest wrappers of the quadrilogy of foodstuffs. Of course, these are the only individually wrapped snacks that have ANY sort of writing on them whatsoever, but still.

These treats may not have been my favorite of the bunch, but they were certainly the most remarkable of the seasonal foodstuffs. At some point, you’ve probably had a marshmallow bar before. Hell, maybe you even decided to make your own out of General Mills Monster Cereals once. But as long as I have lived on this blue ball we call Earth, I have never tasted a marshmallow treat THIS thick before. Seriously folks, as soon as you bite into one of these things, your teeth sink half way to the planet’s core, with the bar itself ending up somewhere deep inside your top row gum line. It’s not so much a candy bar as it is a seasonal snack that you could also fashion into a set of crispy dentures.

The final seasonal item on tap is an offering that, on paper, sounds the classiest. What lady (of the non-diabetic sort) doesn’t love her some cherry cordials? Well, how about some chocolate doused, mass-marketed snack cake sandwiches with real (artificial) cherry flavoring? OK, that’s probably not as delectable sounding as the first thing, but still.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the appearance of these things. They come individually wrapped, and the look like your basic marshmallow sandwich delicacy. At first glance, you might even think this thing is an under-nourished Moon Pie or something.

As far as the taste goes, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. For one, the artificial fruit taste seems really superfluous, and it doesn’t gel very well with the other two textures - all that damn chocolate and the sugary pastry dough - at all. It’s not horrible, per se, but biting into one of these things is sort of like licking a strawberry-scented air freshener that was dipped in Nutella. Like I said, it’s not an entirely detestable concept, but not really something you would enjoy too much, either.

And that, in something that resembles a nutshell, is your Little Debbie seasonal selections, for this, the year of our Lord 2013. Alike all of those heavy hitters of the candy bar industry, they tend to trot out new “limited-time” only items every major pagan holiday, so it’s pretty much a guarantee that L.D. will be releasing an entirely new cavalcade of foodstuffs in time for Easter. While nothing they released for Valentine’s Day  this year was worth going out of your way to experience, it’s not as if their offerings were truly atrocious and completely inedible, though. All in all, I probably wouldn’t recommend dropping these on your number one girl’s lap on the 14th, but hey…you got to snack on something while scouring the Web for the cheapest flower delivery rates, don’t you?


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