Mint Condition

12.10.2007: Happy holidays means chocolate goodness


Since Truman was a little baby last year, we pretty much let the holiday season slide by with minimal fuss and muss. He'd never notice, we reasoned; he was too young to know what he was missing. This year, however, it's a different story.

Truman is positively infused with the Christmas spirit. He loves everything that glistens and glows. He goes crazy for things that are red and green. He flips out whenever he sees an image of Santa Claus or a reindeer or tricked-out snowman. And whenever we come into contact with a twinkling Christmas tree, he not only points and says, "Ooooooh, whoa, wow," but now exclaims, "Tree!" (This is a major extension of his vocabulary).

So we decided we'd decorate a little bit this year. Since we don't want the whole season to turn into one prolonged no-fest (no-Festivus?), we decided to opt for something up high, where he can't reach: A decked-out mantle.

In need of mantle-bling, and some decorating consulting, I grabbed my girlfriend Laura and headed out to Target. She shares my love of the shiny and garish; we like to call ourselves "the crows," calling to each other when we find some particularly fabulous sparkly thing, "Caw! Caw!" The poor folks at Target must surely have thought it was a remake of The Birds. For there, we rushed up and down and up and down the aisles, filling our cart with lots of sheeny, tin-foily things that I think Truman will adore (and that I love, too).

But then, we hit the mother lode: Turns out, the aisles and aisles and aisle of Christmas decorations lead you inexorably to the holiday chocolate section, a true holiday wonderland.

We were stopped in our tracks by the enormity of the thing. Now HERE was some truly irresistible fabulosity. We were literally kids in the candy store (with credit cards, to boot). I was drawn to bag after bag of candies infused with mint flavor—Candy Cane Kisses, Mint Three Muskateers and the like. These foods obviously don't fit into my diet and weight loss plan, and yet I found myself simply unable to resist them. And so, as a simple public service, I offer these reviews to you, gentle reader. I taste the candy so that you don't have to (or at the very least, spend your empty calories on the good stuff).

Three Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate: Mmmmmmmm. These are a delicious confection for grown-up palates, with a very authentic mint flavor that calls to mind the bracing quality of the essential oil. But lest you think that might be too alarming, rest assured that the pillowy softness of the nougat will soothe your senses. These little goodies are an absolute triumph.

Hershey's Kisses Mint Truffle: On the other end of the spectrum are these lousy, mushy bite-sized bits that do a disservice to the "Kisses" brand. Clearly they were aiming for buttery and minty, but what they got was some artificial chemical taste that will make you want to purse more than pucker. Yucky.

Palmer's Christmas Mints: Generally speaking, I don't expect much from the Palmer's brand, and so wasn't terribly disappointed with these mints. Palmer's, in case you don't remember, is the brand that manufactures a lot of this nation's chocolate Easter bunnies, and has a distinctive grainy-sugary style that, for me, evokes specific childhood memories. I can't say these are terribly good, but they are comforting.

Candy Cane Kisses: White chocolate is, so far as I'm concerned, an oxymoron. I do my best to stay away from the stuff. But I was attracted to these for reasons I can't quite explain. And I'm glad I was. They are awesome. I love them, I guess because they are filled with little peppermint bits that make eating them a suck-and-crunch experience. They taste pretty good, too.

Hot Cocoa Kisses: Yes, I know, these are not mint. Still, don't they sound good? How can you resist? They are kinda good, though I must point out that, really, how can there be a hot cocoa flavored chocolate? What makes hot cocoa unique is, after all, heat—otherwise, it's just chocolate milk, i.e., milk chocolate. And if you love milk chocolate and want a nice rich milk chocolate truffle, these are for you.

I realize that this report has by no means been complete. There is a whole mint edition of Hershey's miniatures that remains, at posting time, untasted by me. Rest assured that I will work tirelessly to remedy this situation and report back to you, so that you need not sully your own pristine lips with empty calories of the unfun kind. That's how much I care. Consider it my Christmas gift to you.