The 'Shroom:Issue 199/Critic Corner
Welcome to the best time of the year!!!!!!! It's time for HALLOWEEN!!!!!!! Get ooky, get spooky, and get settled in for some fun reviews here. Plenty of tricks and treats so go and take your seat, and enjoy as much candy as you can physically fit inside of you!
Congrats to Fun With Despair (talk) for being voted as September's Critic Corner Section of the Month with his cover of Half-Baked Reviews!! Be sure to give your love to all of our sections here, and give a shout out to our writers whether in chat or in their forum threads dedicated to their sections. Be sure to vote vote vote!
And now for my regular announcements: We've decided to implement in Critic Corner something similar to News Flush over in Fake News, where no formal sign-up application process is required for one-time or limited sections. From now on if you just want to send in a single review for something you just read, watched played, tried, whatever, you just have to send me your review privately either to me directly in chat, or in a message to me on the forum at least one week before each 'Shroom is to be released! There's no commitment or obligation to provide a full monthly section (although you absolutely can shift it into one if you so choose), just send us your thoughts on a thing and we'll feature it here! If you have any questions or curiosities about this, please feel free to ask!
As always, if you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! You are free to write for sections such as Character Review and Movie Review, or really anything you'd like to do! There's no pressure to have a huge section; they can be shorter and concise! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to Meta Knight on the forum. Any idea you have is welcome, and if you have any questions or need help signing up, please feel free to reach out to myself or other 'Shroom peeps!
Section of the Month
|CRITIC CORNER SECTION OF THE MONTH|
|1st||Anton's Half-Baked Reviews||21||80.77%||Fun With Despair (talk)|
|2nd||Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls||4||15.38%||Shoey (talk)|
|3rd||Book Review||1||3.85%||FunkyK38 (talk)|
Hello! Welcome back to 'Shroom FM! No this section was not missing last month, you just scrolled past it really fast. Stop lying to yourself. This is the real world.
DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ - Destiny
I think it will be very hard to sell anyone reading The 'Shroom on listening to a four hour long album - but if you do ever feel tempted, this would make a fantastic choice. Of course you can break it up into segments, but it's all so dense that it feels a lot more immersive if you tackle the whole thing at once. As with any DJ Sabrina album, the atmosphere is crafted really well - dreamlike, nostalgic house music interspersed with carefully curated samples. It did take me a short while to get fully on board - a couple of tracks over the first hour didn't quite click with me, but there's a run of about 10 tracks from the title track onwards which is just sublime. It hasn't dethroned 2020's Charmed as my favourite DJ Sabrina album, but this is still a massive album with a ton of standout moments; and the level of consistency and quality that DJ Sabrina maintains over these multiple hour-long projects is hugely impressive.
Laura Groves - Radio Red
Groves' fantastic vocal performance is the best thing about this album; it really holds up the best moments here, such as the amazing "Sky at Night". Songwriting-wise I did like more or less everything here, but outside of one or two songs, I didn't really take a lot away from this. It's very pleasant to listen to, though.
Mary Lattimore - Goodbye, Hotel Arkada
Very well-crafted. Lattimore's harp work here is sublime, and the way the harp blends with the other instruments here - particularly the electronic instruments, synths etc. - gives the whole thing a slightly otherwordly, very soothing vibe. Lovely album just to sink into.
Mitski - The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We ⭐
This album is very different direction to Mitski's last album, Laurel Hell - which is a very good thing, because that album was not great. I specifically didn't like how flat the energy felt and how it lacked big moments and any sort of impact. The Land is Inhospitable is a guitar-heavy, Americana-inspired album, so it's not exactly high-energy, but the songwriting stand out so much here, and the lyrics are really intimate and personal. There's some really beautiful moments here, especially where certain tracks build up. The opener, "Bug Like an Angel", is quite and meditative until out of nowhere, a choir echo the word 'family' after Mitski sings it - it took me by surprise the first time it happens, but it's also really effective, and adds a lot of warmth to the track. The best moment on this album, though, is the huge crescendo that builds up over "Star" - a few quite synths at first, followed by a simplistic, steady drum beat, and then right towards the end it just soars with Mitski's vocals, and you think it's done but it just keeps going and going. Genuinely breathtaking moment.
Genesis Owusu - STRUGGLER
It took me a few listens to fully click with Smiling with No Teeth, but I don't think I ever struggled with it as much as I have with STRUGGLER. This album is just a little bit boring. The albums kicks off with "Leaving the Light", which definitely isn't bad. His vocal performance here is good but the instrumental - especially the synths in the chorus - feels quite bland. It also - bizarrely - sounds a lot like a Lemon Demon song, somehow; with those synths and Owusu's delivery in the verses. "The Roach" is much stronger, though - especially the instrumental and the chorus. Outside of that, there's not much else I have to say about this - the other tracks here range from pretty good ("Tied Up!" is nice and funky, "Stay Blessed" has a good energy) to tedious (particularly the slower tracks, like the closer "Stuck to the Fan"). On the whole, this album feels cleaner than his debut but also comparatively lacking in personality, and less interesting as a result.
Jeff Rosenstock - HELLMODE
Have to admit I'm a bit underwhelmed by this. First two tracks are great - "WILL U STILL U" starts a little shaky but very suddenly and effectively goes off the rails, and "HEAD" is blisteringly fast. It builds up all this energy and excitement, and then... the third track, "LIKED U BETTER". It's okay? It's a nice song, but also a little generic, and the lyrics are bland too. It has the vibe of one of those songs you'd hear in the background of an advert for like... white water rafting, or something. "DOUBT" and "FUTURE IS DUMB" are both pretty cool, but after that, nothing else over the length of the album did anything for me. Plenty of songs that start out well and just don't go anywhere. It's a bit of a let down in comparison to his last major studio album NO DREAM where every song feels genuinely unique.
yeule - softscars
Definitely something I'm missing here. The general sound is alright, but I can't say I found anything here unique or interesting, sadly. Honestly the track I enjoyed most was the interlude track "fish in the pool", which is a short instrumental - and a cover as well (Yeule's vocalisations over the track do add nicely to the vibe, to be fair). Out of the main tracks, "inferno" is pretty cool; nice steady beat and the instrumental builds up well around the middle, though it does kinda end out of nowhere. Their vocal performance is solid but again I don't really see what's going on here that elevates it any higher than that. Not many moments in the songwriting that jumped out, quite a few songs that trailed off as they went on. The best word I can think of to describe this album is "competent".
Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls
|Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood|
|Starring||Lar Park Lincoln, Kevin Blair, Kane Hodder|
|Directed By||John Carl Buechler|
Good evening, and welcome to another horrifying Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls. I'm your guide through the darkness, Vincent Van Shoeul. Last month, we aired the blaxploitation classic Blacula. This month, well, to be frank, we had to change plans multiple times thanks to copyright issues, production snafus, and losing a week thanks to Issue 200. So this month, we stay with iconic movie monsters. In fact, this month, making his first appearance on our little program is one of the most iconic monsters of them all. That's right. It's the hockey mask-wearing, camper-killing zombie that is Jason Voorhees. This month, we take a lot at my personal favorite Friday the 13th film, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, a tale of sex, murder, and telekinetic powers! But before we begin, I must warn you. Those of you whose values don't allow for sexy teenage parties should turn back now. But for those of you who stay, I can promise you it will be a thriller!
For tonight's featured performers, we have: Terry Kiser as Dr. Crews, Tina's psychiatrist who is attempting to use her psychic powers for his own gain; Susan Jennifer Sullivan as Melissa, the alpha of Michael's birthday party who is vying for the heart of Nick; Kevin Blair as Nick, a nice teenage boy who falls for Tina; and Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees, Camp Crystal Lake's serial killer brought back to life for another round of killing teenagers! Finally, we have Lar Park Lincoln as Tina, a teenage girl with strong psychic powers who accidentally awakens the slumbering Jason. Armed with her intense psychic powers, she must defeat Jason and end his killing spree.
Directed by John Carl Buechler, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood went through a number of changes during development. Originally it was intended to be the battle between Jason and fellow horror icon Freddy Kruger, but this ended up being dropped due to the companies that owned the respective series not being able to come to an agreement. Another idea was Jason fighting property developers who wanted to turn Camp Crystal Lake into condos because, damn it, Jason hates gentrification! Finally, they decided on having essentially "Jason vs Carrie," so Jason takes on a girl with psychic powers and it's the best part of the film, but more on that later!
By this point, the Friday the 13th formula is completely established and most of the movie does not deviate from it. It's a pretty standard affair. Teenagers are throwing a party at the old Camp Crystal Lake despite the fact that there have been, at this point, six different massacres here! These teenagers are drinking beers and having sex. Naturally, this offends Jason's strong Christian ethics, so he's gonna take 'em out! Unfortunately, we're past the point where these films have "characters", because, outside of Tina, none of these characters are fleshed out! Instead, they're basically one-note archetypes. But if you love one-note characters, then is this the film for you! We've got all your favorites! We've got:
- Rich Yuppie
- Athletic African-American
- Frumpy Girl who wants to get laid
- Drug User
- Nice Guy
- Alpha Bitch
They're all here, and they're all ready to plow! I highlight this because I'm pretty sure, outside of like three of them, every one of them has sex. But surprisingly for as much sex as happens in this film, there's not a lot of nudity. There's actually a reason for this, and we'll get into that shortly.
So, one of the big problems with this film and, really, with a lot of horror films around this time is that, since they don't really develop their characters, it's kind of just Jason butchering nameless faces. Another problem is that what little personality these characters do have sucks! They're mostly mean, catty people. So, when Jason is not killing them and when Tina is not on screen, it's scenes of characters I don't want to see! This is pretty common in horror, because the basic concept is that you don't want to make all your characters deep or sympathetic, because, at the end of the day, most of them are going to die brutally. So, you make them kind of one-note or you make them assholes so it's easier to digest them being killed. That's a fine concept, I guess? But It kind of just means the movie is full of characters acting like assholes and that, when they end up dead, I'm glad it happens!
The film's plot is sorta interesting, or, at least, the Carrie elements bring a little intrigue to it, because, again, it's mostly standard affair stuff. Jason gets resurrected, and he's killing assholes who dare to exist in his territory. That's the same old story, but the Tina stuff does add a little bit of flair to it. To give you a short summary, Tina has telekinetic powers that activate during extreme emotional stress. When she was a little girl, during a vacation at Camp Crystal Lake, her mother and her alcoholic father got in an argument. Tina accidentally kills her father with her powers by causing the dock outside their house to collapse, causing him to drown. Years later, she is brought back to Camp Crystal Lake by her psychiatrist Dr. Crews and her mother so that she can face her grief. In reality, she is actually here because Dr. Crews wants to trigger her emotionally for science or whatever. Across the street is a birthday party for someone named Michael, which is being thrown by some wild and crazy teenagers. One of them, the resident nice guy, Nick, invited Tina to the party, much to the displeasure of Dr. Crews, who thinks it's going to interrupt his work. Tina's mom, on the other hand, is elated, because this could help Tina get back to normal.
While standing on the docks where she accidentally killed her dad, Tina accidentally revives Jason, who had been trapped in the lake, with her powers. So, of course, given a new lease on life, Jason goes back to doing what he does best: killing teenagers!
Most of this film is dipshit teenagers having sex or getting killed. The other part is Tina having, like, visions of Jason killing teenagers, which I actually think is pretty well done. There is also a plot of Dr. Crews manipulating Tina, trying to get her powers to activate or… like… break her mentally? I don't know; it's not elaborated on super well, and, shortly after Tina's mom finds out about his plot, they both get murdered by Jason. The only other plotline is Melisa, the resident bitch, trying to get with Nick. There are just two problems with that. Nick, number one, likes Tina and, number two, hates Melissa, so that doesn't work. Outside of that, it's just Jason butchering people to death, which, like, it's the seventh Friday the 13th, so you should have known that was coming when you looked at the title!
Unfortunately, for reasons that aren't the film's fault, the kills in this film are very weak. Despite there being like twelve kills in this film, there's almost no blood, because, at this point, the censors were really hitting horror hard. As a result, a lot of the kills are heavily-watered down. A couple good examples are, at one point, Jason kills a girl who is trapped inside her sleeping bag by slamming her into a tree. Originally, he was supposed to do this six times, but because of the censors, it was reduced to one time. That's basically the story of all the kills in this film. They were all originally more graphic, but they were forced to water them down because the censors threatened them with a X rating, which would have made the film almost impossible to distribute.
So, yeah, as a film it's not a great film. It's a very by-the-numbers slasher, only without even the fun kills to make it enjoyable. But Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood does have two aces up its sleeve. First, it's the debut of Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees. Kane Hodder would go on to play Jason four times and, in fact, is the only person to play Jason more than once. Kane Hodder is probably the most popular of the Jasons, and he's my favorite, too! An experienced stuntman, Kane brings a lot of personality to Jason through his movements (Jason, of course, being nonverbal). While still a lumbering mass, he's a lot more expressive and agile in this film. It's a very strong debut from Kane, and there's a reason Kane was asked to return to the series!
The other ace, and honestly the main reason this is my favorite Friday the 13th film, is the climax, the fight between Tina and Jason. I love this fight and think it's absolutely hilarious. It's nothing but Tina using her powers to punk Jason out as Jason just stands bewildered. Jason never even gets close to laying a hand on Tina, as Tina dominates this "fight" with her psychic powers. There are some really creative things that happen in this fight. Tina uses an electrical wire to electrocute Jason. She uses a cable to string Jason up by his neck before caving the stairs in and dropping Jason into the basement. I think the most creative use of the powers is that Tina uses her psychic powers to squeeze Jason's head with his own mask, causing puss and ooze to come out before the masks breaks under the pressure. This is one of the only times (along with Jason Lives) that maskless Jason doesn't look like a dumb goober; instead, he looks like one of the zombies you'd find in the original Return of the Living Dead. It's a pretty good character design job, because, instead of looking like a dumb idiot, Jason, without his mask, looks like a genuine monster.
I think the coolest part of the fight is when Tina uses her psychic powers to spray Jason with gasoline from an old gas can. Then she opens the furnace, causing Jason to light up in flames. I think this is one of the better Jason fights, because it's one of the few times in the series where Jason gets completely bodied by someone. It also helps that this whole scenario is super funny. Why? Because Jason is nonverbal, right? Despite this, he spends this whole fight in a state of confusion as things just keep happening around him. He spends the whole fight nonverbally going "what the fuck is happening? Why aren't you dead yet????" as Tina uses her powers to ragdoll him.
Of course, by this point in time, Jason is essentially an immortal indestructible zombie, so none of these attacks put him down. Finally, Jason gets the advantage when he gets outside the house they were fighting in. Now on the docks, Jason throws Tina down and goes in for the kill. Nick tries to save her by pulling a goddamn gun and shooting him, but, since guns don't work on Jasons, he simply bitch slaps him down. With everything seeming hopeless, TIna uses all her psychic powers to summon a goddamn ghost dad, who bursts out of the docks, tying a chain around Jason's neck and dragging him into the water never to be seen again… until Part 8, where Jason ends up in fucking Manhattan. The fight between Jason and Tina is easily the best part of the film. It's like a goddamn Looney Tunes sketch, with Jason, this indestructible monster, just being so frustrated as he gets destroyed by this little girl. This fight is the reason this is my favorite Friday the 13th film, and it justifies the whole "Carrie vs Jason" concept the film was going for.
Is Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood a good movie? No, not really. It is, for the most part, a very by-the-numbers slasher film that really only stands out because of Tina and her psychic powers. Other than that, it's nothing the franchise hasn't done before. It kind of just hits all the things Jason has done before, right down to the classic killing of a couple while they skinny dip. And while Tina's powers are cool and I think her fight with Jason is great, the powers aren't really used a whole lot, mostly just in the intro and the climax, and Jason and Tina don't really interact that much. Tina knows Jason is here, because she sees visions of him, but it's not like she's seeking him out or anything. The fact that they fight at all just happens because they're in the same area. But while this isn't a good film, it's probably the last good Jason film, because, after this, the series just gets silly. Like, the idea of Jason fighting Carrie is already kind of silly, but, like, Jason's literally a zombie, so it's not like psychic powers are some unthinkable thing. After this, though, you get shit like "Jason in Manhattan", "Jason in Space", and Jason as a stupid, evil worm parasite taking over people's bodies.
This is a dumb movie, but at least it's kind of fun dumb. Like, the fight between Jason and Tina is amazing for both the right and wrong reasons, but the film is not a good movie at its core. It also hurts that the movie was so heavily censored, because, like, what's the point of a slasher film if you can't show any blood? I think it would probably be better if it wasn't censored because there are some creative kills in this film, they just aren't able to really use that creativity.
So yeah, in conclusion, not a good film, but it is fun and it's worth it just to see a teenage girl beat the shit out of Jason! That will conclude our little tale, and I think the moral is quite obvious, but for those who didn't get it, let me spell it out for you. "STOP GOING TO CRYSTAL LAKE! THERE'S A ZOMBIE MURDERER THERE, AND HE WILL KILL YOU!" With that, our little tale is at an end. As always, I've been the Chronicler of Horror, Vincent Van Shoeul, inviting you to join us next month for another horrifying tale in Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls.
🍬 Halloween Special 🍫
Here I was, sitting around staring at my ceiling unable to move my body because I just got done with a terrible cascade of shifts that goes from closing, mid-shift, and then opening--a sequence that leaves me with like 4 hours of sleep total in three days. Without any ability to act upon any tasks, I decided to make myself worth at least something by thinking about a Halloween review, maybe about Halloween candy, nice and classic, maybe about regular Halloween candy, but candy corn and recolored chocolate? Ehhh…why bother, we already know that Reese’s Cups have been voted as the best Halloween candy year after year after year. But…
Which cup? Regular? Miniatures? Why not look at every single one currently available for purchase as well as some others that aren’t that I somehow got anyways?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
I could certainly buy up every kind of Reese’s candy bar, as that’s now something with such an immense and diverse variety that it could be fun to do, but the simple fact is that it’s not a selection of similar products aside from being something that potentially has chocolate and also peanut butter, as their brand covers now all kinds of candy, cereal, bars, ice cream, spreads, ingredients, a seemingly endless array. I need to figure out the best CUP, as those now also have an incredible amount of different ones to choose from. To fall into the purview of this review, it has to be a Reese’s product that is in the classic cup style, which certainly excludes the amorphous holiday styles like Eggs, Pumpkins, etc. from this review, but definitely does not exclude them from being placed in my shopping basket to be devoured soon after.
It’s been hard figuring out a way to organize this review, with an organized worst-to-best list perhaps being the most logical if I were writing a listicle, but I am so much more than that so I will be doing it with a rough taxonomic grouping, prioritizing cup shape over flavors and fillings, to readily compare more similar types before moving onto starker varieties.
Regular Reese’s Cups
Having to start out with the standard variety, partially out of a sense of completion, but to also provide the base expectation and explanation of why this is not only everyone else’s favorite chocolate bar, but especially mine. My favorite part is what you’d come across first if you eat it in any way that’s not one whole gulp: the ridge. Successful in its contrast to the softer interior area of the disc, the outside edge has a firm snap that just is so sensationally satisfying. The chocolate is sweet and creamy, in a way that just felt comforting, providing a subtle nutty flavor that blends well with the peanut butter which brings in a tempered saltiness. Just absolute perfection, amazing form, iconic flagship display of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Its downfall is its susceptibility to warm weather, completely breaking down in quality if a little heat comes its way, and living in Florida that means it's genuinely difficult for me to bring a Reese's from one place to another without the top or bottom completely fusing to the package and peeling off as it flaws the perfect form, whereas many more chocolate bars have more stability.
It must be known that I find it bizarre that the regular-shaped Reese’s Cup in dark chocolate just doesn’t appear to exist anymore, with multiple sources online asking if it has been discontinued or pleading to bring it back; meanwhile various other sizes and shapes of Reese’s Cups include dark chocolate in their options. Yet another thing where I’d love to see the metrics and category data behind such a decision.
Similarly, white chocolate Reese’s Cups no longer exists, due to a more documented and known reason that’s quite nefarious as Hershey’s was sued over it, alleging that Hershey “has engaged in deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment, as well as breach in express and implied warranty” as they have misled the public into believing that their White Reese’s is made from white chocolate, just as they make milk chocolate and dark chocolate versions. Unfortunately for them the lawsuit got tossed as the judge determined just “white” was not misleading enough, when the actual problem here is that it’s complete bullshit that Hershey keeps swapping out higher quality ingredients for crappy ones because they know people are going to keep buying.
Not to be confused with white chocolate made with high quality cocoa butters as this is instead a cursed amalgamation of solidified oils that mimic chocolate just barely long enough to trick people of its texture. This is just a vessel of nothing to carry regular dry peanut butter. Carefully nibbling just the white part to get what that’s like and it’s incredibly sweet, much sweeter than any milk chocolate version I’ve had, but also with a concerning soft and smooth mix. Otherwise all together as a full bar it’s a bit salty as the peanut butter is a much stronger force than the oil mush.
Unsatisfying and soulless.
In April 2023 Hershey’s released Creamy and Crunchy as limited-edition flavors, with an audience participation gimmick to vote on which one is best, so here I am. The creamy is not much different from a regular one at all, if just a little softer. Disappointing, really, because the picture shows what creamy peanut butter from a jar would look like swirled around, but instead this is just Reese’s proprietary peanut butter filling that is more similar to desiccated fudge. You can get genuine creamy peanut butter fillings from other brands, or even homemade, so I know it’s not a physical process issue going on here and rather is just the company reselling a product while just changing the packaging. I was expecting at least something similar to buckeyes, or even like the Reese’s Bar. The creamier texture than normal is definitely noticeable, mostly in how it sticks to the top of your mouth, and it’s not bad, but ultimately it’s just not what was advertised.
Yeah that sure is crunchy peanut butter, it is what it claims to be, but the crunchiness is less than what you’d get from the ones with potato chips, Reese’s Puffs, or pretzels. The crunchiness of the peanuts feels reduced when left in the standard peanut butter filling, and I’m sure this would’ve had a greater effect if the Creamy/Crunchy pairing they had here utilized a creamier base that stands out from the standard. I feel like this being a regular-sized cup and not a Big Cup limits the impact of the crunchy peanut butter, and in turn am now wondering how overpoweringly soft a Creamy Big Cup would be.
Pitting the Creamy and Crunchy against each other can result in different winners depending on which metric you’re leading with: Crunchy is clearly the more unique option, victory in finally enacting a classic idea in a way that makes you wonder why this hasn’t been done until 2023, but even as a crunchy peanut butter fan I have to say that Creamy is truly the better tasting and better feeling cup, as agreed upon unanimously in their own internal poll.
With only a limited amount of factors to possibly change, the Chocolate Lovers adjusts the balance by having a thicker chocolate shell and, allegedly, a little darker chocolate. Makes it too close to other brands of peanut butter cups; no longer does it taste or feel like a Reese’s, feels homemade. That’s not necessarily bad, I actually enjoyed the texture, but with it not being the same kind of milk chocolate it just didn’t bring the same joy or care to me.
Peanut Butter Lovers
Regular cup shape, but with the exterior being half chocolate and half peanut butter flavored crème. The texture is thankfully mostly the same, as I was worried about that with the crème, but it’s still lacking that kinda powerful crisp SNAP around the edges. There’s also not that much flavor other than a kinda bland dry roasted peanut flavor. Definitely a stronger peanut taste, the chocolate is pretty negligible, and has a weird, almost burning, aftertaste that only leaves me with parched regret. What the Chocolate Lovers and Peanut Butter Lovers do is show that the classic’s perfect balance is a fickle beast that should not be messed with for no good reason.
Ultimate Peanut Butter Lover
In case half of the cup being peanut butter flavored crème wasn't enough, the Ultimate version is the whole thing. Relaunched briefly in 2022 along with the regular Peanut Butter Lovers, this one brings basically the same exact experience as the other, but instead you get even more of that weird aftertaste with no reprieve from any creamy milk chocolate. Defenders of this say it's more than just a scoop of peanut butter plopped on a sheet, but I'd honestly prefer that more. This just serves as proof that the strength of a Reese's Cup is the balance between chocolate and peanut butter.
When Thins, stylized as THiNS but I refuse to type that out more than once, were released there was a huge uproar that started as silly ribbing on social media that, as it was 2018, was utilized by Hershey to make sassy epic clap backs to Thins shamers. These were initially marketed not exaaaaactly as a healthier choice, but one with “more permissibility” in having more than one, in an obvious but amazingly genius way of introducing a ‘shameful, guilty’ product back to health-conscious consumers that have otherwise sworn off of and left the sweets market. Check out your local grocery store and see how many things are skinny or thin and tell me if Reese’s hopping on was a bad decision, because I know you can’t.
Milk Chocolate Thins
Coming individually wrapped in larger bags, without the classic cup paper, Thins are 40% the size of regular Reese’s Cups. The proportions visually appear to be equalized, but the taste seems to be a little bit more heavy on the chocolate, as opposed to the regular highlighting the peanut butter flavor more. Others I have given this to claim that it’s actually the peanut butter flavor that comes through more, but I think that’s just an illusion formed from the textural quality of the Thins being softer and lacking the classic firm edge. Either way it has an interesting feel when you bite into it, and I think I’m a fan, as there’s a firmness in it all the way through that makes this feel like a halfway frozen regular cup. The biggest selling point to me is how these definitely can be tossed into a lunch bag or something to-go much more easily, because, critically, they don’t have that newborn soft spot on them like the regular individually-wrapped cups always have that cause the top of the chocolate to peel off.
Probably the most inoffensive white crème product I’ve had in general, as the minimal amount of peanut butter doesn’t feel overwhelming in its chalkiness. More peanut butter flavor than the milk chocolate, and the white crème ends up just tasting subtly like cheap Easter chocolate. In retrospect it’s probably not much of a compliment to these that I merely tolerated them rather than outright hated them. I personally would not get these again as the regular milk chocolate Thins are much more readily available and come in different size bags, but these are good for my brother who’s allergic to chocolate.
The Dark Chocolate Thins seem to be the more successful one of the bunch, and I feel is the format that utilizes dark chocolate in the best way. What they remind me of, really, are the Ghirardelli chocolate squares but not quite so dark that some sweetness is left over to help support the salty peanut butter. All aspects and intentions of the Thins combine here and the intended outlook is achieved: sneaky indulgence validation. It must also be known that with all of the Thins that freezing them turns all of them, every flavor, into absolute perfection.
As I’m eating these I am realizing an unintended method for limiting intake that no other diet trend has managed: irritating me with just how many wrappers are left around or stuffed back into the bag as I eat them, making me want to stop entirely.
The classic balance is thrown off by vastly increasing the amount of peanut butter. Satisfying to eat and feels like a true indulgence, but as such it feels cumbersome and empty, leaving me unsure if I would’ve had a better time spending the same amount on this as four Reese’s Cups as Big Cups automatically qualify as King Size. Eating it frozen is like eating a cheesecake bite, and an experience I recommend as it adds a layer of interesting depth.
Big Cup Reese’s Puffs
I was worried that the Reese’s Puff would be oddly stiff and act like more of an obstacle, but it takes on more of a light wafer crunchiness. The Puffs aren’t regular-sized cereal pieces, but instead smaller dots that you can otherwise enjoy now in Reese’s Puffs Minis cereal, along with Trix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. As Reese’s Puffs are a chocolate peanut butter cereal there is little flavor added with their inclusion, which is good for those who don’t want the added saltiness of pretzels or potato chips.
Big Cup Pretzels
This has easily become one of my go-to candy picks whenever I go into a gas station to get snacks. Enough pretzels to have a bit in every bite, and adds back some of that satisfying snap that’s lost with the increased amount of peanut butter. It does get exhausting to eat it after a few bites, kinda like how I feel with Butterfingers, but luckily it’s gone just in time and winds up feeling more filling in the way a Snickers bar is.
Big Cup Potato Chip
Subtle saltiness that adds another layer to the thickness and volume of the peanut butter filling, with the crunch more consistent throughout every bite. The crunch isn’t too hard, instead more like a pop rock feel. Still good, I just prefer the harder pretzels.
Big Cup Reese’s Pieces
The Reese’s Pieces are barely visible in a cross-section, with only tiny shell bits hiding in the mass of peanut butter. The Pieces are also barely noticeable at all, providing just the weakest bit of crunch that’s more auditory than textural. There’s certainly better options, but what this shows me is there’s a scale of crunchiness with all of these to better curate your desires and also likely to act as data points for Hershey; going down from most crunchy: pretzel, potato chips, puffs, pieces.
Big Cup Peanut Brittle
It’s not even peanut brittle, but peanut brittle flavored creme; whatever crunch is there is provided by the sparse peanuts, otherwise this could easily just be released as a ‘chunky peanut butter lovers’ cup and be extremely accurate and a likely success. You’d think I’d be all over a peanut brittle concept that doesn’t leave you worried about how many of your teeth will be chipped by the time it’s gone, but the amount of deception here is just too much. With something that’s called ‘Peanut Brittle’ I believe it’s necessary for there to be more of a crunch, specifically a candy or toffee crunch, and seeing that there’s plenty of chocolate bars out there capable of doing it it’s just super clear to me that this is an incredibly lazy cash-in of guaranteed seasonal sales and I urge all of you reading to refuse to buy this.
The Other Classic, and the one more often found out in the wild in Halloween bowls, gift bags, stockings, etc., and for good reason: the perfect bite size that keeps the classic taste and feel. Not gonna have much to say here about these ones because the Miniatures all do a good job of feeling like a complete bite of their larger versions, which loops around to feeling almost pointless in comparison to each other because their individual gimmicks are all so small.
The whole deal with Reese’s Cups is the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter, and all the white creme does is put naked peanut butter in an embarrassing spotlight where it struggles to perform. Just feels dry.
Now I know I’m not a fan of dark chocolate, regularly touting milk chocolate as a superior experience, I think the issue with Dark Chocolate Miniature Cups is that there’s not enough dark chocolate flavor to contend with the peanut butter in a way that tastes good. The regular has higher sweetness, and dark chocolate tends to go well with salty flavors, but this just falls a bit flat and leaves me with a singular thought of “I could’ve bought regular cups.”
Miniature Zero Sugar
These just simply do not taste great, or even good, indicating that sugar is a critical element of a perfect Reese’s. They have that weird dusty feel and flavor you get from many fake sugar products and it's just really not appealing at all. If you want to have a “healthier” option, there are dozens and dozens of other brands you can go for because it’s just completely not worth having a crappy Reese’s when you can have any of an ever-increasing variety of alternative chocolates.
Only a little bit of pretzel but that’s all that’s really needed to provide a satisfying crunch.
Miniature Cup Reese’s Puffs
Feels mostly pointless, as there is only one single Reese’s Puff at best inside. I will say, though, that that subtle little bit of crunch inside of it does give it an edge over a regular Miniature which otherwise just feels inadequate in comparison now that I’ve been spoiled.
The funny thing about Organic Reese’s Cups is that I still never saw them in any organic and natural specialty grocery store; the Hershey brand is so toxic in those places that nothing more than just basic Hershey cocoa powder can’t even get on the shelves, situating them only in markets where they will get basically no shelf space with a customer base that absolutely does not want them. So, I bought five.
It feels heavier, denser; chocolate is thicker which changes the texture significantly. The thicker layer of chocolate than the standard is still overall smaller and thinner, creating a firmness throughout the entire piece that you’d otherwise get only on the classic rim, and feels like a middle ground between a classic Reese’s and a Thin. At the time of typing this up the Milk Chocolate Organic version has been discontinued, as has the Dark Chocolate Organic which I was never able to find. I can still find the milk chocolate version on the organic and ‘healthy’ candy shelves–likely a reason why they’re discontinued– at mid-range grocery stores that even bother carrying organic things but aren’t so uppity to not carry a Hershey’s brand, so if you go out to a Publix, Harris Teeter, or Ingles as that’s where I’ve seen these
Plant BasedIn my quest to find more Organic Reese’s Cups I instead found these sitting in their spot. Oat Chocolate, using oat and rice flour instead of dairy milk. I just don’t fully agree with why this is called ‘Plant Based’, as chocolate and peanut butter are already plant-based; a more accurate verbiage would be ‘Dairy-Free’, or ‘Vegan’ as that would be a true unique epithet, but those are no longer the golden words of market advertising, with ‘Vegan’ in particular likely scaring more away than winning over. a mindset focused more on signaling those virtues, right or wrong; meanwhile ‘Plant Based’ fits squarely into a powerful diet trend that markets to people who genuinely have health restrictions who can now enjoy a Reese’s Cup without getting TOO bloated and gassy, as well as to people whose craving for showing off their one-upmanship abilities are on par with their craving for chocolate. I just don’t see this as doing well at all beyond any social media taste-test uptick because the market of people who want this kind of product already have brands they are loyal to that also check off more virtue boxes, but I do acknowledge that this signals a win for more conscious shoppers as a powerful mainstream company finally dips its toes into what was otherwise occupied by smaller gourmet and luxury brands and hopefully leads to more competitive (lower) prices.
The peanut butter is really light and feels super dry. It doesn’t taste very pleasing, and as the chocolate struggles to melt in your mouth the oat flavor becomes more apparent and I’m just extremely not a fan of that with any of the oat-based products out there. Something about the use of oat and rice flour leaves these feeling stale, and not giving me that softness and meltiness that combines the chocolate and peanut butter so well. The chocolate part is thicker than normal, but doesn’t have a nice snap to its ridges, which leaves me sad. After trying the Plant Based and then trying the Organic again, the Organic just tastes SOOOO much better, and has a unique thick-shelled thin feeling that I’d love to see exist in some other way.
Super small peanut butter cups are one of few shimmers of joy from my childhood, getting them typically around Easter or Christmas from a local chocolate shop that has been closed now for decades. As time has gone on I’ve found these exact same mini peanut butter cups sold as a simple basic bulk item readily available to restaurants and other distributors. Reese’s Minis are basically the same thing, but rather than having the magical ability to be eaten by the handful in a craven fit of pure hedonistic debauchery, these still carry a certain heaviness that comes with the Reese’s flavor. While these are alright, they don’t hit that mark as something standalone, and feel like they’re meant more as an ingredient or topping in other baked treats that will carry better sweetness, or into a snack mix of some sort to bring better saltiness.
Half Pound Cups
I will admit that the last time I had one of these was literally 10+ years ago, but the memory still haunts me. Absolute behemoth monsters that stretched the definition of Reese’s Cups to an extreme, serving as a gift gimmick and hopefully not intended to truly be eaten. I was unable to do much with these other than attempt to cut them open with a fork and knife and it was just an otherwise miserable experience for everyone involved and I ultimately had to throw most of it out because I couldn’t eat all of it before it started going bad. My advice to you is that if you’re ever considering getting someone who loves Reese’s one of these as a gift to just instead spend that amount of money on a bunch of regular Reese’s Cups and make them infinitely happier.
There are some discontinued varieties that I sorely miss, such as Crunchy Cookie in both regular size and Big Cup, as well as some of the more wild options like Peanut Butter & Banana Creme, and even varieties exclusive to Dollar General that received very little fanfare before vanishing. What I think Hershey should do, if they’re truly going all-in on replacing genuine chocolate with bullshit crème in as many places as possible, is go the route of KitKats and have their seasonal and limited-time flavors be something unique and cool. The Franken-Cup I already reviewed being just colored crème doesn’t elicit much excitement, with their Blossom-Tops pulling the same boring trick, and Mallow-Tops utilizing the nebulous marshmallow flavor when they could bring back a marshmallow filling. Boring, boring, boring, if they’re gonna sully the sanctity of Reese’s Cups with this nonsense, why not just go nuts, go all out, why not have a Funfetti filling? Fruity Flavors? I want excitement!
If there are any missing from this list it is because they were not available to me between June and October 2023, otherwise you can be sure I would’ve gotten my hands on it. After having eaten so many of these, though, I believe I can now enter a meditative trance-like state and ascertain the texture, taste, and complete spiritual experience of every potential Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
|The 'Shroom: Issue 199|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner • Strategy Wing|