Contrast and Conquer

M&M’s Pretzel Chocolate Candies

M&M’s Pretzel Chocolate Candies

I Paid: $3.79 for a 9.9-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

At this point, the plethora of M&M’s spin-off flavors defies description by any conventional numbering system and is probably best described by the slightly exaggerated term infinite.

But just when you think you’ve seen the lot, another variation comes to light. The new kid on the block is Pretzel M&M’s, a candy shell surrounding chocolate surrounding a spherical pretzel interior.

The bag’s marketing hails the candy as “crunchy, salty, and sweet,” preparing the casual snacker for a “don’t cross the streams” eating experience—M&M’s is wisely jumping aboard the increasingly mainstream trend of throwing sodium chloride on top of dessert. It’s only a (brief) matter of time before a major industrial chocolate bar manufacturer puts out a salted caramel offering, fully co-opting a trend that’s been aggressively bubbling up from the world of fancy foods for years.

Less cloying than the typical M&M while still boasting a lingering chocolate flavor, a Pretzel M&M packs a lot of action into a tiny package. The texture provided by the candy shell and pretzel interior is absolutely marvelous, calling to mind those hypercrunchy malted milk Easter eggs that crop up every spring and then undeservedly rotate back into retirement. As for the flavor, the salt is assertive but not overwhelming, a true partner with the candy’s sweet exterior.

Sweet, crunchy, salty—pretty much the only major commercialized flavor missing in these things is “meaty.” So here’s looking forward to 2011’s inevitable Beef Jerky M&M’s.

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.