Selling the Idea of Brownie Indulgence Without the Payoff

Pillsbury Sweet Moments Bite-Size Brownies

Pillsbury Sweet Moments Bite-Size Brownies

I Paid: $2.78 for a 5.6-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2 stars

Marketing: 2 stars

Selling quotidian chocolate as a high-end, miniature escape is nothing new; just fire up this vintage 1986 Nestlé commercial (“Nestlé makes the very best, N-E-S-T-L-E-S”) to get a feel for how entrenched the sales pitch is. And while there’s nothing surprising about a new edition of a timeworn marketing tactic, it’s a little bit surprising that consumers aren’t yet wise to it.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: When a major corporation offers luxury at an affordable price, get ready for silken, elegant bites of disappointment. That luxury image/low-grade reality switcheroo is the basic play-by-play description of Pillsbury’s new Sweet Moments ready-to-eat refrigerated brownie bites.

Looking at the bag, which bills the snacks as “decadent & delicious,” you’d hope that they’d be cocoa-rich, fudge-y little bonbons. The actual product falls short: The brownies are covered in low-grade chocolate (which isn’t improved by being chilled to refrigerator temperatures) and have a soft cakelike interior that lacks either satisfying fudge-y density or rich cocoa flavor. A caramel variety has no distinct caramel flavor or satisfying chew—Sweet Moments are little more than low-grade, mass-manufactured petits fours.

The product is particularly frustrating because it’s a pricier way to get a dessert inferior to what any of us could come up with in a lazy evening’s work—take a reliable store-bought brownie mix, dip small bites of brownie in a good melted chocolate, refrigerate, and enjoy.

The one thing these suckers have going for them is that they’re good for dieters: Each mini-brownie is just 60 calories … and with the way they taste, it’s relatively easy to stop after eating one or two.

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

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