I’m embarrassed to admit that I absolutely love Hallmark holidays. From Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day, and let’s face it, Americanized Hanukkah as well, I’m totally on board for any and all festivities. St. Patrick’s Day is obviously no exception. Commemorating the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick, this holiday has been commercialized into a day of wearing green, pinching, the always faithful McDonald’s Shamrock Shake and the DCOM “The Luck of the Irish.” By the way, if you’ve never seen “The Luck of the Irish” or don’t know what DCOM stands for (it’s Disney Channel Original Movie), we can’t be friends. Do these consumerist, mildly ambiguous “holidays” really serve a meaningful cultural purpose? Arguably not. But they are fun, and sometimes, that’s just enough!
In the spirit of St. Peppermint Patty’s Day and my affinity for mint-flavored candy, I gathered my seven roommates to do a taste test of seven different mint chocolate candies. For the purposes of academic research and the sensitivity of this subject, the testers will not be referred to by name. We measured the different mint chocolate confections using a number of very legitimate scientific measures, such as “How much does this remind you of toothpaste?” or “Could you see yourself eating this if Natalie wasn’t force feeding it to you for the sake of inspiring journalism?” We rated on texture, impact of minty flavor, quality of chocolate and overall experience to come up with the following list. Do we have too much time on our hands? Does mint candy even count as a St. Patrick’s Day treat if it isn’t green? Does anyone care about mint candy besides me? These are all valid questions that I’m choosing to ignore so I can eat more chocolate instead.
- Alter Eco Dark Mint Organic Chocolate (60 percent cocoa)
Coming in last, this organic, gluten-free, non-GMO bar was expected to earn high points with this Berkeley crowd. While the bitter flavor of the dark chocolate was appreciated, there wasn’t enough mint flavor present in this bar to fairly assess it against the others. This bar had unexpected small flecks of “crunchies” dispersed throughout the chocolate that reminded one taster of “Pop Rocks in (her) mouth.” This probably would have been more of an asset had they actually been Pop Rocks. Another taster predicted that this option would be her favorite based on the packaging alone, but was disappointed by its lack of “mintiness.” As they say, you can’t judge a chocolate bar by its wrapper.
- Milka Oreo Mint Chocolate Candy Bar
This bar felt the most thematic with St. Paddy’s Day, having the only mint filling that is green in color. That said, one tester likened the filling to be “weirdly similar to Baskin Robbins mint chip ice cream” — only we would rather just eat mint chip ice cream. Our chocolate-hating tester felt that the consistency of the milk chocolate exterior was way too waxy, while another tester found fault in the mini Oreo biscuits in the filling. The mint flavor was “fine” but not really what the testers were expecting. To be fair, the sample population is partial to dark chocolate, making the probability of success for this bar slim to none.
- Junior Mints
Our chocolate hater was unsure if she should consume the candy all at once or take a bite into the bonbon. Going in for the bite-in-half method, the resident dark chocolate lover immediately announced that without tasting it, she already hated it based on “what it felt like to bite into.” Once she had a moment to actually taste the candy, she continued to proclaim that she hated the fake smoothness of the chocolate exterior and the “gooey, toothpasty texture of the filling.” Our wild card tester, however, enjoyed the crunch of the chocolate shell in contrast to the viscous center. Our certified Irish tester, who immediately announced her bias for this product, said she wished there was a little less sugar and a little more mint flavor in this cult classic.
Note: These were not consumed frozen, and it was generally believed that the rating would’ve shifted for the better with a change in candy temperature.
- York Peppermint Patties
The classic. Our dentist’s daughter (a certified mint aficionado) felt that the midrange mint-flavored candy was missing that “oooh” feeling one should get from eating peppermint. Another taste tester wished that the chocolate exterior were harder in order to provide a more impactful textural contrast. She went on to express that she also felt that the chocolate-to-mint ratio could’ve been improved upon so that the chocolate flavor was more present. To be fair, we sampled the mini version of these patties out of ease, so we didn’t actually taste the OG good good.
- Ghirardelli Dark & Mint Filled Chocolate Squares
The Ghirardelli Square was eaten right after the “too gooey” Junior Mint and the “too soft” York patty. After the first bite, our resident dark chocolate lover declared the consistency of this one to be “just right” and “one of the best things (she’s) ever had.” The chocolate coating definitely offered the most crunch and best flavor, but it was said to ultimately “overpower the flavor of the mint.” Our certified Irish housemate said she felt like she was just eating “really good dark chocolate with a sugary, mildly minty filling.” We would’ve preferred a more powerful mint flavor to bring this chocolate higher on the list.
- Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
Made with only three ingredients — honey, chocolate liquor and peppermint oil — we loved that this candy felt like a healthy treat. Beyond the simple ingredients list, the crunch of the chocolate stood out. The flavor of the honey really comes through in the peppermint filling, but not in a way that obstructs from the boldness of the mint. The contrast of the textures made this candy a crowd pleaser and a favorite for our dentist’s daughter.
- Berkeley Bowl Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patties
This mint chocolate variety was by far the group favorite. With a perfect coating of dark chocolate, the crisp mint flavor was the most pronounced in this patty. One roommate likened the cool finish to be like mouthwash; another said it was “like the mint-flavored Juul in the best way possible.” Even our chocolate hater said she “actually really liked the balance of flavors in this one.” Though this option was by far the most expensive, the tasters unanimously agreed that it was worth the premium cost for a special occasion. We highly recommend that you pop these in the freezer for a few hours for an out-of-this-world experience!
However you celebrate — with a pint of Guinness, chocolate or an Irish jig — I hope you have a safe and minty-fresh St. Patrick’s Day!