Mediocre Cookies Evoke Camping Adventure

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish S’mores Adventures

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish S’mores Adventures

I Paid: $2.19 for a 6.6-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 1 stars

Remember when Pepperidge Farm Goldfish had a sort of charmingly dignified whimsy to them? Those days are long gone. Now the crackers have been reinvented in what seems like dozens of new varieties, tarted up for every taste under the sun. Case in point: a new s’mores-themed Goldfish product comprising chocolate graham, honey graham, and marshmallow fish. On the back of the bag, computer-rendered fish characters named Gilbert™, Finn®, Xtreme®, and Brooke® have what the bag calls a “S’mores Adventure,” which consists of the four fish sitting around a folded piece of paper with a fire drawn on it. “Your imagination,” reads the bag, “can take you anywhere even CAMPING…”

So, what? These freaking cookies are supposed to help magically transport us to a canoe trip in the Canadian Boundary Waters? Why is Gilbert the Goldfish the only fish who is trademarked? What’s so extreme about Xtreme, and does it have anything to do with the fact that he looks a bit like he’s tweaking on meth? So many questions, so little time. Or interest.

As for the cookies: They do not, in fact, magically transport you to a wilderness setting. They are dry. The marshmallow fish are the sort of desiccated marshmallows that are featured prominently in Lucky Charms. “Stack[ing] up all 3 flavors,” as the bag advises, does not create a moment of profound gastronomic insight—these are mildly flavored, well-balanced, nondescript mass-marketed cookies, and there aren’t a lot of radically different tastes and textures going on that really benefit from complicated interplay. That said, like Oreos, these cookies turn into a pleasantly sweet paste that compels you to stuff another handful into your mouth.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.