I had no plans to post about these, but…well, I got kicked out of a Facebook group for responding to a question with (correct) information on them, and I’m still a little salty, so enjoy the fucking post. [This isn’t that type of soap box, so I’ll just leave it at this: Some people are just so terribly misguided that (a) there really is no reasoning with them and (b) it’ll be a huge relief when you end up getting removed from their heavily moderated echo chamber of a Facebook group.]
Bullshit aside, this is a brand-new line of Hershey’s products, and it’s way, way better than the vast majority of the Hershey’s lines I’ve tried. And it’s not just me. These bars fared better in the consumer-testing process than most of the other products Hershey’s has ever released. (By the way, in case you’ve made the mistake of leaving that link unclicked, I’d like to inform you that the ad-article it leads to includes such absurd word heaps as “world leader in snacking expertise,” “textured snacking experience,” and “the growing demand for multi-textural eating experiences.” That’s all from one paragraph, too. Go forth.)
But regardless of those consumers’ pre-release opinions, I have a lot against Hershey’s chocolate. (There isn’t much to explain; their chocolate just sucks.) But I’ll eat the occasional Hershey’s product—usually a Kit Kat, a PayDay, a Reese’s Cup, or (my favorite!) a Whatchamacallit—because (a) I’m human, and (b) Hershey’s is one of the few food allergy–friendly chocolate-bar companies on the American mass market. Sue me.
Now, Hershey’s isn’t the ideal company, or anything—not by food-allergy standards, nor by any others, really. They don’t always label for shared lines and facilities, but they’ll issue a warning whenever they feel there’s any chance of cross-contamination. That is, in fact, what most companies will say in response to the question of whether they label for shared equipment, etc.—”we use our discretion,” basically. The question then becomes one of whether you, the food-allergic, trust the company.
Personally, I trust Hershey’s—which is to say that if a Hershey’s label doesn’t warn me to stay away, then I’ll feel pretty confident in digging into the labeled product. They have plenty of products I can’t eat, but I take that as a good sign, actually. A lot of products with a “may contain” warning means a willingness to issue such warnings when they’re called for. So I’m on board.
Anyway. With regard to these particular products—all three Cookie Layer Crunch varieties, I mean—I’ve been told via phone (and on a few separate occasions, too) that the absence of any sort of advisory labeling does in fact mean dedicated lines. There are, then, no peanut or tree nut products made with the equipment that’s used to make any of the Cookie Layer Crunch bars. (Cookie bars? Bar cookies? Cookies-in-bars? I don’t know.) So do with that what you will.
Again—and I think this is worth emphasizing—I hate Hershey’s chocolate, especially when it’s prominently featured in whatever bullshit Hershey’s confection I’ve decided to shove into my mouth. I haven’t so much as touched a plain old Hershey’s bar since my last stay at The Hotel Hershey (circa 2007), where they give those things away like they don’t cost anything to make. (Oh, wait…) In any case, their chocolate’s just plain bad, and I’ll only bother with it when the other ingredients at play are hefty enough to make it worth my while. Fortunately, though, these Cookie Layer Crunch whatsits meet that criteria.
They come in three varieties—Vanilla Crème, Caramel, and Mint—so I suppose I should go one by one. I’ll start with my least favorite, then: Caramel, described on the label as “milk chocolate bars with shortbread cookie bits and caramel.” Unfortunately, the shortbread cookie bits don’t taste much like shortbread—or like much of anything, really—and the caramel is overbearingly sweet. I will say, though, that the chocolate involved (in this bar, and in the other two as well) is significantly better than the chocolate Hershey’s uses for their other product lines. It’s not as sour, nor (quite) as artificial-tasting, and it’s significantly creamier, too. But overall, these things taste just like ROLOs. And I’m sorry, but that isn’t a compliment.
I do have some nice things to say about the other two varieties, though. Vanilla Crème (pictured below—sorry about my fingers) is approximately as cloying as just about every other Hershey’s product out there, but it’s somehow not nearly as offensive. And in fact, it’s my second-favorite of the three Cookie Layer Crunch varieties.
The label calls them “milk chocolate bars with chocolate cookie bits and vanilla flavored crème with other natural flavor,” and (aside from the natural-flavor mumbo jumbo) and if you ask me, that’s a pretty reasonable description. The chocolate cookie bits are a lot more flavorful (and a lot more satisfying) than the shortbread cookie bits, and their texture’s key to the balance of the bar. And by some sort of miracle, the vanilla créme isn’t sickeningly sweet; in context, it works—and it’s pretty similar to what you’ll find in an Oreo.
My favorite, though, is definitely the Mint: “dark chocolate bars with chocolate cookie bits and mint créme.” Unfortunately, the packaging doesn’t lie—they really are green on the inside. But surprisingly enough, they’re delicious. They taste a whole lot like Thin Mints (which are pretty allergy-friendly, by the way), though with way more chocolate to them…and that‘s a compliment.
As with the Vanilla Créme, the cookie bits in the Mint bars are nice and chocolatey, with a satisfying crunch to them. They’re actually rather indispensable, and they go a long way toward making these bars so pleasantly Thin Mint–esque. The mint créme is good, too—it’s refreshingly minty, and there’s just enough of it—and it complements the (slightly) dark(er) chocolate nicely, too. I’m not even a huge mint fan—York Peppermint Patties are too much for me, I won’t chew mint gum, and I didn’t switch to mint-flavored toothpaste until well into high school—but these really do it for me.
All right. That’s enough, I think. I always feel sort of dirty when I confess to even half-liking a Hershey’s product. But these are new, and I kind of like them (well, two out of three of them), and they’re pretty allergy friendly, so…I’ll get over it. They’re pretty easy to find, too. Try CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, or the godforsaken Hershey’s Chocolate World in godforsaken Times Square—which is where I thought I had to go to get these. (Fucking oops. Long story. Stay away from the Hershey’s store. Please.)