Mint Crisp M&M’s

By: Mars

Suggested Retail Price: $2.99 for an 11.8-ounce bag

Taste: 5stars

Marketing: 3stars

M&M’s are typically small, ordinary, reliable treats in a large, terrifying, heart-stoppingly unpredictable world.

Now Mars, which makes M&M’s, has stepped it up a notch. The company has compellingly (and irritatingly) pegged the newest variant of M&M’s to the upcoming Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Big Crystal Skull or whatever it’s called. Thus: crispy mint M&M’s with little fedoras and skulls stamped on them, available in white and two shades of green. Because everybody knows that crystal skulls love the taste combination of fresh mint and chocolate.

And so do I. These are perfect, crispy, crunchy little nuggets of minty-fresh chocolate goodness. Soon, you are throwing handfuls of them into your mouth, swearing on all that is holy that you will make this, this handful, the last.

The secret? A terrific ratio of shell (10 percent), chocolate (25 percent), and crispy interior (65 percent) that together packs a good mint-chocolate wallop. It’s the same ratio as the regular crispy M&M’s, but those are no longer available in the United States.

If you remember Royals (and, by golly, I do) then you’ll realize these “limited edition” treats should be hoarded in a 70-quart Tupperware bin.

Lemonaise and Latin Lemonaise

By: The Ojai Cook

Suggested Retail Price: $3.29 for a 12-ounce jar

Taste: 5stars

Marketing: 4stars

Mayonnaise has long been taken for granted, like salt or ketchup or that yellow mustard that squirts merrily out of the bottle onto a baseball park frankfurter.

In recent years, a push to bring back homemade mayo has been mounted in the world of fancy cooking, with mixed results: Some swear by it, some just swear (due to the arduous effort involved in making the emulsion come out just so). But we would all stand to profit from better mayo, and that’s where the Ojai Cook comes in.

The product, Lemonaise, has Creole mustard (which provides real depth of flavor) and a tangible hit of lemon, followed by a spicy whisper of cayenne. This sounds like a lot, but it’s not going to scream down other ingredients; the balance and overall volume are reined in. And for many (if not most) mayo applications, the extra flavor will perk up whatever you’re working: deviled eggs, for example, or chicken salad sandwiches.

The Latin incarnation is even more assertive, with both roasted and fresh pepper notes, a cumin bite, and a palpable garlic aura. It’s hard to imagine anything better than this on something like a grilled ham torta, or as a base for vegetable dip.

In fact the “Hey! this would be good on …” game is half the fun of the Lemonaise spreads; it’s hard to taste them without getting excited about making your next meal.

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