The holiday season is here! If you don’t believe me, just stroll down the nearest junk food aisle. Everything either tastes like peppermint or is shaped like a bell. I love it.
Below are five of my favorite holiday junk foods for the 2015 season. Or maybe they’re just the first five that I found. I’ll be doing additional installments later in the season, so if you like essays about bread, stick with Dino Drac baby.
Hostess Peppermint Ho Hos!
I’ve never been big on Ho Hos, but if they were gonna Christmasize a Hostess snack, I think the one named after Santa’s catchphrase was the right choice.
Actually, this is just one of several Hostess snacks that were given the holiday treatment this year. I’ll cover the rest once the residual guilt from plowing through a whole box of Ho Hos in six minutes passes.
They taste suitably pepperminty, though the creamy filling is nowhere near as red as the box shows. I’m irrationally upset about that. I don’t like the taste of peppermint enough to choose it without some aesthetics in play. Would it be pushing things to send Hostess a shitty email just because their red Ho Hos aren’t red enough? I never know where lines are drawn.
Holiday Rice Krispies Cereal!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the first time in many years that Kellogg’s dusted off the red-white-and-green Holiday Rice Krispies gimmick? If so, this is huge news!
They taste the same as regular Rice Krispies, and since we live in a time when every holiday version of everything has to taste like some seasonally on-point Yankee Candle, I’m calling that both a plus and a nice throwback.
The box, resplendent in its nonreligious glory, features Snap, Crackle and Pop congregating over what’s probably a frozen lake but also might be the elf version of purgatory, which just happens to be icy blue.
Since the flavor and consistency remain unchanged, you can use this cereal with all of the “normal” Rice Krispies recipes. Yes, YOU can have Rice Krispies Treats in special holiday colors! I’m always telling you that life is about the little things, but man, that one’s big.
Cranberry Swirl Bread!
This isn’t exactly a junk food, but I’m guessing that slices of bread topped with snowball-sized mounds of butter are probably worse for you than Ho Hos.
I tend to doubt that this is new-for-2015, but it’s new-for-me. Thomas’s Cranberry Swirl Bread is marvelous! The swirls of real cranberry goo make every slice double as a really easy maze, and as the kids say, the shit just tastes so fuckin’ good.
The full flavor profiles of Swirl breads are only revealed after toasting, but this one still works well in its “raw” state. If you use the bread for a turkey sandwich, congratulations, you just made the covert space food version of a complete Thanksgiving dinner.
Strongly recommended. It feels like something that might be sold by the slice at some pretentious bakery.
Gingerbread Oreo Cookies!
I received a few tips about these “new” cookies, which actually aren’t new at all. If I have it right, Gingerbread Oreos arrived in 2012, but debuted so late and in such short supply that my own package had to come by way of secondhand cross-country mail-order.
If they returned in 2013, I never spotted them, and I’m relatively certain that they didn’t.
Lo and behold, they’re back this year, and Nabisco’s clearly positioned them as their big “holiday ta-da.” I know this because they were the literal first thing I saw upon entering Target, even before the shopping carts.
The smell is divine. It’s 100% gingerbread. Not “fake candy bullshit gingerbread,” mind you, but legit gingerbread. It’s POTENT. The taste is less pronounced than the smell, but it still has enough of a kick to make good on the name.
R2-D2 Holiday Cookies!
Despite being named “R2-D2 Holiday” cookies, there’s nothing Christmassy about them. They’re JUST R2-D2 cookies. (And don’t give me that “all sugar cookies are Christmassy” crap. Pillsbury puts whole collections out for goddamned Labor Day now.)
I’m not complaining. The idea of making straight-up Star Wars cookies and pretending it’s a holiday activity is literally the exact thing I’ve been asking for my whole life. Besides, even if sugar cookies are no longer localized to this portion of the year, the stench of them baking in the oven will forever belong to NOW.
Ironic note: Pillsbury is celebrating inclusivity with the generic “holiday” title, but don’t these malformed R2-D2s look a bit like the blue dreidels associated with Hanukkah?
PS: Oh hey, speaking of R2-D2! My latest Star Wars piece is up, tackling the many releases of the original trilogy on VHS! As always, you’d know about these extracurriculars sooner if you followed me on Twitter!