Who doesn't love brunch? This bag contains three different flavor / color combinations: French Toast, Strawberry Waffle, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Those don’t sound horrible – in fact, they sound like safe choices – but to me, they represent a grievous missed opportunity. Brunch Favorites gave Brach’s a chance to address candy corn to the adult palate, but they whiffed. The word “brunch” makes a certain promise – after all, children may like sugary breakfast treats, but they don’t care about the concept of BRUNCH, do they? No. Brunch is a distinctly social, adult concept, a word that conjures Sunday afternoon leisure and decadence. If it were up to me, I would have gone with the flavors of Mimosa, Bloody Mary, Eggs Benedict, and Bacon. But maybe that’s just me.
The other problem is that these cowardly flavor choices aren’t even executed well. One taster noted that the bag “smells like a crowded IHOP at 2 am,” and it does indeed give off an aggressive aroma that must closely resembles a “Syrup”-scented Yankee candle with a hint of plasticky liquid spray margarine.
The “French Toast & Maple Syrup” flavor is represented by a candy corn kernel that features a yellow tip over a stripe of orangey-tan, then a yellow base, perhaps visually representing a pat of butter, over a pool of maple syrup, over eggy French toast, per the illustration on the bag? The creativity stops at the visuals, however, as the entire kernel has the same flavor, and it isn’t good. The overwhelming fake-maple syrup scent from the bag is driven by this flavor, which fills the mouth with a generic Aunt Jemima taste that then fades to a generic powdery sweetness, but with a lingering chemical syrup note coating the back of the throat. It should be noted that America has come to associate maple syrup with the brown goo sold in the ubiquitous plastic bottles – whether it’s Mrs Butterworths, Hungry Jack, Eggo, what have you – but in fact all of these are labeled as what they really are, “breakfast syrups,” about as similar to real maple as Tootsie Roll is to real chocolate. This candy corn summons the plastic surrogate very well, but not true maple.
“Waffles & Strawberry” has a white tip, over a pink stripe, over a light brown stripe, which I believe is meant to conjure whipped cream over strawberries over waffles. When you bite into this kernel, there is a faint suggestion of the kind of fleeting “strawberry” perfume you’d find on a child’s scratch-and-sniff sticker shaped like a strawberry. That whiff of faux strawberry swiftly gives way to the same generic syrup suggestion, then the same unpleasant chemical sweetness. And other thing – the phrase “Waffles & Strawberry” is printed on the bag, and note that “Strawberry” is in the singular for some reason. Shouldn’t it be “Waffles & Strawberries”? Actually though, this is paradoxically correct – there are certainly no strawberries here, just “Strawberry” as a purely figurative concept, a caricature of itself.
“Chocolate Chip & Pancakes.” Again, I am not making this up – this is really what the bag says is the name of this flavor. This is not “Chocolate Chip Pancakes,” this is just a singular chocolate chip, together with pancakes, apparently. Well, that is also bizarrely correct, because this flavor registers no chocolate presence whatsoever. This flavor has not even a token advance note nodding towards its namesake, as the other two at least do. This is simply that vague syrupy sweetness again. The color of this kernel is dark brown over yellow over light brown, representing that singular chocolate chip, over butter, over pancakes.
All of these flavors were universally hated by my tasters, even by me, an outspoken advocate of both candy corn and brunch. The whole was less than the sum of its parts. The consistency of these candy corn kernels was too powdery, lacking in the honeyed chew of real candy corn, and the aftertaste that accumulates on the back of the throat simply won’t quit. One taster compared them to “the worst candy at the secretary’s desk that you only eat so as not to die when you’re still at work at 11 pm.” To me, they tasted like something you would find crusted at the bottom of an old lady’s cut crystal candy dish, next to the horehound and butterscotch disks.