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| Sweets |

Pretzel M&M's

I am generally not the biggest fan of standard packaged and/or processed foods, but I am nevertheless inexplicably drawn to specialty versions of such products. When affixed to a package of cookies, crackers or even creamed corn, the words "new," "limited edition" and "seasonal flavor" mesmerize me, and I pick up multiple boxes of, say, Strawberry Cream Milkshake Oreos or Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs before they disappear (perhaps forever!) from the shelves of the supermarket.

Yes, corporate advertisers have found the perfect victim in me.

So when I first spied a package of Pretzel M&M's, I was intrigued. As a longtime fan of chocolate-covered pretzels, I have appreciated the food industry's creative innovations on this item, such as Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby Ice Cream (malt ice cream with chocolate-covered peanut-butter filled pretzels). My theory regarding foods that meld sugar with salt (caramel popcorn and chocolate-covered potato chips being other examples) is that they are designed especially with women (specifically, those experiencing, ahem, monthly hormonal fluctuations) in mind. But perhaps that's just me.

A small bag of Pretzel M&M's has less fat and calories than the regular milk chocolate version (5 grams and 150 calories versus 10 grams and 240 calories). A Pretzel M&M is rounder and puffier than a regular M&M, and its inner core holds a flaky white pretzel nugget encased in milky chocolate. Overall, the combination succeeds: Strong notes of cocoa and sodium under the cover of the crunchy candy shell make Pretzel M&M's a satisfying treat, though the ratio of chocolate to pretzel could be increased. Eat them plain by the handful, or sprinkle them over a peanut sundae for a double dose of sweet-savory goodness.

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