When I was a kid, Easter morning meant Peeps, chocolate bunnies, and jellybeans, but surely the cuisine has evolved since then. Last weekend I got a full spread at Duane Reade, eschewing the Russell Stovers of my youth for the hottest new trends in Easter candy. Let's see how they measure up, shall we?
Since this is a grown-up candy test, there was wine. Unsure of whether etiquette called for red or white, I chose a 2011 Riesling from Loosen Brothers. It was cheap, and a perfect compliment.
1. Peeps Crispy Rice Marshmallow Treat
The aroma of marshmallow hit me first, a nostalgic note of Rice Krispie treats brought in for grade school birthdays. This crispy rice treat is semi-rabbit-shaped and the deep turquoise color of the Caribbean sea. Strong notes include vanilla and xanthan gum. Pink, purple, and yellow bunny-shaped sprinkles provide a bit of crunch, but to be honest, they were sparse. At only one hundred and forty calories with no cholesterol and zero grams of trans fat, this might be the healthiest thing I sampled. 3/5
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg
I must admit, I am partial to Reese’s. I’ve had smaller-scale Reese’s eggs before, but this was the Mother of all of them. It’s easily six inches long and could very well weigh a full pound. The thick chocolate shell has a subtly sweet chocolate flavor, and I’ll be honest, a waxy consistency. But we’re not here for the chocolate, are we? The peanut butter filling is heaven. Salty, buttery, and gritty-- and so much of it! I must admit, I cut myself a second slice. I grant this giant egg a 4.5/5, with a half point off for sheer gluttony.
3. Swedish Fish Jelly Beans
Spilling out of the bag, the red jellybeans recalled the fish roe on my sushi earlier that evening. Perhaps that could be a marketing angle? Unfortunately, I don’t think it would help. It turns out that jellybeans all in one flavor aren't terribly exciting. Something about this shade of red makes the mind expect cherry, and my taste buds were disappointed with these bland beans. They offered a watered-down Swedish Fish flavor with none of the fun of stretching or snapping or ripping the heads off of the little buggers. I’ll pass. 1/5
4. Starburst Crazy Beans
Starburst Crazy Beans promise “2 flavors in 1,” an outer coating and jelly interior. Crunching into them produced a muddled and indistinct fruit flavor. I noted elements of grape, apple, lemon, and watermelon. My favorites were the blue-shelled watermelon beans. I must say, the brain does not enjoy it when colors and flavors don’t match up. These beans are pretty to put out at a party, but counter-intuitive to eat. 3/5
5. Butterfinger Nest Eggs
Crunchy and crispy, with a smattering of peanut butter flakes, these chocolate eggs were a treat. The flakes have an almost burnt nutty flavor, like that of brown butter. There’s considerably more chocolate than flakes in these approximately inch and a half long “eggs,” which was a little disappointing considering the Butterfinger selling point. Still, they’re made of decent Nestle chocolate, and these are tasty. 3.5/5
6. Peeps Hollow Milk Chocolate Egg filled with a Peeps Marshmallow Chick
This adorable item is a large, hollow chocolate egg with a Peeps chick inside. The egg is easy to open, so you can just split it in half without ruining the tableau. The chick inside is a little harder to remove or “hatch,” as marshmallow and sugar glue it to the inside. But that’s okay, because you should eat them together. A bite of the chocolate shell with a bite of marshmallow chick is just divine. The chick is a little stale, but that might improve your experience depending on how you like your Peeps. Good quality chocolate is used for the shell, with a strong, almost smoky cocoa flavor and smooth texture. It’s the best chocolate I tested that night, for sure. My only complaint is that the chocolate-to-Peep ratio is out of line, with way too much chocolate. Still, this was a success. 4/5
7. Cadbury Caramel Egg & Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg
Here’s where I alienate everyone by admitting that I don’t care for the original Cadbury Creme Eggs. Every year I try them again anyway, and every year they are just too sweet and syrupy for me. This year I decided to try some other versions of the Cadbury egg, with greater success. The Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg has a fudgy, chocolate filling with the consistency of frosting, and I found it perfectly delightful. The interior is thick, not syrupy, and packs a substantial chocolate flavor.
The Cadbury Caramel Egg’s filling was a little runnier and stickier, with a muted flavor. I'm sad to say that this caramel is not very salty or buttery, and is messy to eat. It tends to stick to the roof of your mouth. For my money, I’ll stick to the Chocolate Creme Eggs. Caramel: 2/5, Chocolate: 4/5
The Winners: Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, PEEPS Chocolate Egg with Marshmallow Chick, Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg
The Losers: Swedish Fish Jelly Beans, Cadbury Caramel Egg