S’more for the Money

For those too lazy to go camping this summer, what’s the best s’mores-related treat on the market?

It began last summer. I received no fewer than ten separate texts from friends and family in the vein of “McDonald’s just came out with a s’more thing. Thought you should know.” I effing love s’mores, and I don’t know why it took so long, but apparently, the world is just now realizing s’mores are effing lovable. Maybe it’s more about the food industry realizing they can sell basically anything delicious or gross under the guise of “seasonal.” (God save us from impending gingerbread flavored Combos or Irish soda bread Cap’n Crunch.)

In May, I was in a conference hotel room, braless, watching Mad Men, and eating an ice cream waffle sandwich alone. It was my 25th birthday. I was happy. Oh, let’s be real: it was two ice cream waffle sandwiches and I was elated. Both the waffle and the dairy were s’more flavored. I realized a trend beginning. So, obviously, I’ve spent the past couple months seeking out and consuming all things s’more flavored. And, now, I will share my findings.

ICE CREAM

Trader Joe’s S’mores Frozen Sandwiches are a good time. The ice cream is mainly vanilla though — not really any marshmallow taste. The cookie ends of the sandwich maybe taste like graham crackers, but their texture is too soft (and sticky — there’s always a lot on your hands post-consumption). Delicious? Maybe. S’more? No.

Edy’s S’Mores Ice Cream has two variations: regular and slow churned AKA “low-fat” AKA “pretend it’s okay you ate half a gallon while watching One Tree Hill.” Both are enjoyable, although the slow churned’s texture is more hollow. (I am convinced the only difference between the two is more air in the low-fat kind.) This is a solid ice cream. There are ribbons of ‘mallow, bits of chocolate shavings, and some streams of cracker bits. Yet it doesn’t capture the essence of a s’more.

The Tillamook Fireside S’mores Ice Cream is pretty excellent — with a richer flavor and creamier texture than Edy’s. But it suffers from same problem: the authenticity of mimetic s’more appeal just isn’t there. You don’t roast chocolate shavings over a bonfire, y’know?

Ben & Jerry’s S’mores Ice Cream isn’t new, but it is often difficult to find. I appreciate its chocolate base over the common vanilla. However, the graham cracker bits are negligible. And in order to qualify as a s’more, the cracker aspect is huge.

The Dairy Queen S’mores Blizzard is actually my favorite ice cream product of all time. Period. The ‘mallow cream is not ribboned in but churned together. Hence, the vanilla base has even, ‘marshy flavor distribution and no slimy texture. There is a perfect balance of graham dust and crunchable crumbles. The chocolate element is accurately captured in small rectangles like a real-ass s’more.

Winner: Dairy Queen S’mores Blizzard

SNACKS

Jello is not a dessert; ditto to pudding. And when it masquerades as a s’more, as the JELL-O S’more Pudding Snacks do, it’s just as bad. This was subpar chocolate pudding with some sawdust-y graham cracker-ish on top. JELL-O S’more Pudding gets an F+.

Similarly, I ate the McDonald’s S’mores Pie last year, and, no, it was not very good. The shell wasn’t too different from that apple pie “crust,” and it was stuffed with a semi-flavorful middle of chocolate gunk and questionable mallow. Woof.

It’s basically a sin in my family to eat Russell Stover products, but they made a packaged s’more, the Russell Stover Big Bite S’mores Bar, so what’s shakin’, Satan? I was just as surprised as you to find that besides being served cold, this product was an absolute delight.

I was skeptical of the Lofthouse S’more Sugar Cookies at the time of purchase because the frosting looked muy manufactured. I prepared for a tough cookie, but I was wrong!

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Grahams S’mores Adventures. WHAT, THESE ARE AWESOME. Including “Adventures” in the name is a bit presumptuous, and these aren’t really Goldfish crackers, but cookies shaped like Goldfish. But why would I complain? There are plain graham Goldfish, chocolate graham Goldfish, and mini-marshmallow Goldfish. It’s an interesting approach to the s’more — separating the three elements — but a handful of the mix can provide a summer-y treat experience.

Winner: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Grahams S’mores

BREAKFAST

Market Pantry S’mores Chewy Granola Bars and Quaker Oats S’mores Chewy Granola Bars are similarly delightful: chocolate chips, itty bitty mallows, sweet but semi-healthy? The Quaker Oats version is only slightly better because it doesn’t crumble as easily as the Target’s Market Pantry brand.

Caribou Coffee’s Campfire Mocha is slightly bitter for a s’more, but the effort is appreciated, and it appears to be the only coffee in the s’more game. Also, there’s a tiny chocolate-covered coffee bean on top. I’m into it.

The Kellogg’s Limited Edition Eggo Seasons S’mores Waffles do a good job of including chocolate chips and teeny ‘mallows, but the graham flavor is nonexistent. I’m not complaining, but I’m kind of complaining.

I consider the Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted S’mores the O.G. of s’more snacks, and rightfully so. This is simultaneously the simplest incarnation of a s’more, and ranks on the high-end on the delicious scale. Also, it’s actually able to be served warm. Pop-Tarts have been riding the s’more bus for over a decade, and, man, have they done it right.

Winner of Breakfast category AND overall: Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted S’mores

Alice Stanley is an MFA candidate in Dramatic Writing at Arizona State University. Follow her tweets or send her an email. She also has a website.