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M&M's Ice Cream Treats. $3.99 per 11.5-ounce box of five bars.

Bonnie: When I first saw these ice cream pops, the 1992 movie "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" was at the top of my mind. But this time it would be M&M's that had grown, not youngsters.

These chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream circles on-a-stick look like giant M&M's but taste nothing like them. That's because these giant, colored shells cover vanilla ice cream rather than milk chocolate.

I do admit they're cute and, better yet, more modest in calories and fat than a Klondike Bar or Triple Chocolate King Size Drumstick. One M&M's pop contains 190 calories, 15 grams of total fat (of which 12 grams are saturated) and lots of artificial colors to make the red, blue or green coating look like an M&M.

Carolyn: Putting M&M's in ice cream dates back to ice cream mix-in pioneer Steve Herrell of Steve's Ice Cream shop in 1970s Boston. But now M&M-maker Mars is turning the idea inside out by putting the ice cream inside a giant candy M&M that has been fortified by a thin, hard layer of chocolate.

Although these were hardly punishing to eat, as an adult, I found the bright green coating/vanilla ice cream combination less than appetizing and the riddles printed on the sticks lame. (Example: Why does Blue ride roller coasters in winter? Because he's a total chill seeker.) And yet these bars' Dove-like chocolate quality and richness would seem aimed at adults.

Where I grew up, adults ate Dove and the kids got store brand. My folks weren't just trying to save money; they were also trying not to waste it. Most kids won't appreciate — or even like — how chocolaty these are. Even some adult chocolate lovers might wish for more ice cream and less chocolate.

Planters Kettle Roasted Peanuts. Classic Salt, Honey BBQ, and Ranch. $1.99 per 7.5-ounce pouch.

Bonnie: Planters' new peanuts are kettle-roasted in small batches to bring out the crunch. I like the Classic Salt, as it contains nothing but peanuts, peanut oil and salt.

The Honey BBQ and Ranch varieties contain way too many additives. Those include disodium inosinate, monosodium glutamate, disodium guanylate and artificial flavors, to mention just a few. But crunchy food lovers might try the Classic Salt ones, keeping in mind that peanuts are as loaded with fat and calories as they are with protein and fiber.

Carolyn: Planters has applied the "kettle" process used in making thick and crunchy potato chips and has made these peanuts almost impossible to chew. I'm guessing this failure has to do with peanuts' heavier texture and thickness. Whatever the reason, if Mr. Peanut processed all his peanuts this way, he would soon be collecting unemployment.

Maxxed Energy Pops. $1 per .9-ounce pop-top can containing one lollipop.

Bonnie: I reached for a can of these new Maxxed Energy Pops one afternoon when I was totally exhausted. Yes, each of these "energy pops" is packed in a can, a pop-top can. The single pop inside contains taurine, ginseng, guarana, vitamins B6 and B12, and about the same amount of caffeine as a can of Coke (40 milligrams or 60 milligrams less than a cup of regular brewed coffee).

Did I get even a tiny burst of energy from eating one? Not even a smidgen, but I did get scratches both on the roof of my mouth and my tongue from this pop's rough surface.

If you need energy, I'd recommend a cup of java or 40 winks instead.

Carolyn: Now lollipop-sucking kiddies can get their energy hit just like their older, bar-hopping brothers and sisters, thanks to Tootsie Roll's new Maxxed Energy Pops. These are lighter, cheaper and taste better than an energy drink. In fact, they look and eat like a slightly elongated lemon-lime Tootsie Roll Pop with its characteristic slightly rough — but hardly lethal — surface (though I was disappointed by its lack of a Tootsie Roll center).

The bigger problem? Consuming energizing ingredients via lollipop takes lots longer than drinking them. And when young people especially want something, they want it NOW.


Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat" (Quirk). Each week they critique three new food items. For previous columns, visit supermarketsampler.com, and for more food info and chances to win free products, visit biteofthebest.com. © Universal Press Syndicate