Review: Moon Pie Sea Salt Caramel

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We’ve talked quite a bit here at Shameless Consumer about the origins of flavor combinations, and now it’s time you learned about sea salt and caramel. You see, unlike the Arnold Palmer, which was the loving result of marriage and childbirth, sea salt caramel has its basis in bitter, bitter rivalry with a bit of sea salt sprinkled on top.

In order to fully get the story, we have to go back to 1800 Bologna Italy, home town of the renowned yet unaccredited Saltini family. The Saltinis became rich during the occupation by Napoleon’s forces in 1796, striking a deal with Napoleon himself to retain ownership of local sea salt mining operations on the grounds that the family refuse any deal that would see their salt used to flavor the Roman church’s papal crackers. When Bologna traded hands in 1815, the Saltini family was forced to emigrate out of fear of retribution by Pope Pius VII, making an agreement that allowed the family to continue their control of said mine.

So the family hopped into their 1810 Lamborghini Alfredo and booked it with the intention of heading toward what they thought was Novigrad Croatia. However, since Croatia had suffered numerous changes of hands over the years, confusion, lack of road signs, and a general disinterest by head of house Giovanni Saltini to ask for directions led the family astray and the next thing they knew, their car had run out of gas outside of immigration services in downtown New York City. With their reserves of pasta and olive oil depleted, not to mention Grandma Saltini working her way through the thousandth rendition of E Il Sol Dell’anima, the family set up shop.

Over the next few years, Giovanni Saltini would purchase the land and expand his newly international sea salt empire, promising a fortune for any worker willing to put in a day’s effort and coining the term “worth your salt,” in the process. In 1815, however, the Saltini family goes head first into a property dispute with the owners of a nearby mining operation, a  family of Portugese immigrants who had taken advantage of cheap land prices and abundant natural resources. The disputing family, also known as the Caramelos, owned land right next to the Saltinis and set up shop mining its natural caramel caves. According to a lawsuit filed by the Caramelos in 1816, runoff from the Saltini sea salt mine was contaminating their caramel, resulting in the family having to recall all product.

To their surprise, 98% of customers refuse to acknowledge the recall or return the product, they loved it. It seemed as though the families had inadvertently struck gold, creating the next big sensation. People fell in love with the unconventional matching of sweet and salty. The Caramelo family drops their lawsuit and, in December of 1816, family head Leche Caramelo agrees to meet Giovanni Saltini on the sidewalk outside of the Teamonte Cafe. Unknown to Caramelo, Saltini has no plans on forming a business relationship and upon their meeting, he shoots Caramelo point blank in the chest with a shotgun specially modified to fire pellets of sea salt.

Due to the pellets dissolving in Caramelo’s blood, the police are unable to produce sufficient evidence to prosecute Giovanni Saltini, however the NYPD is forced to acknowledge via a later lawsuit that the mixture of blood and salt had melted the icy sidewalk, thus creating a safe environment for responding officers and offering Giovanni a solid character witness, and in 1818 the city compensated the Saltini family by handing over the deed to the caramel mines plus thirty six cents for a day’s lost wages.

Giovanni, sadly, would not survive to see the fruits of his labor. In 1822, the head of the Saltini family perished in a carriage accident. In respect of their father’s pride, the horses involved in Saltini’s trampling were butchered and served at the wake. Daughter Elsa Saltini took this opportunity to field test the first run of the family’s new product: Salted caramels. The new dessert was a hit, transforming the wake from an event of silence and honor to something more closely resembling a birthday party.

The family business would expand over the next hundred years until great grandson Adolfo Saltini in 1917 witnessed a shooting star and decided to leave town to pursue it. He followed the extraterrestrial object across the country, all the way to its crash site in Chattanooga Tennessee where he found that farmers had mined it clean and used its innards to create what we now know as the Moon Pie. Adolfo approached the head miner and made a business offer and the rest, as they say, was history.

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But that’s enough learning for today, we’re here to talk about food.

The salted caramel Moon Pie is an alternate take on a beautiful American classic, the lesser known flag sewn by Betsy Ross’ equally sexy sister, the pair of teeth that George Washington only used in formal occasions, the Vice President of flavor, the deciding vote when the Senate Foreign Culinary Committee comes to a 50/50 opposition and the guy who will probably grab your ass at a formal dinner party and leave a caramel hand print.

At the very least, it will leave a caramel hand print on your face as you open the packaging. The caramel aroma, much like the freedom that the Moon Pie is based off of, does not like being contained, and will burst out as soon as the plastic opens.

It’s important to remember that this is first and foremost a Moon Pie, secondarily a salted caramel treat. The caramel coating, as you would expect, is very thinly layered on top, so thin that you might not even notice it if you wolf down the pie in one mouthful. In this respect, the salted caramel outside is the soft bass carrying the melodic tone of the Moon Pie’s fifth overture, delicately enveloping you in its arms as the soft graham cracker and marshmallow bedding whisk you to a dreamland of serenity, beauty, and presumably an endless stack of Moon Pies.

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There are only two times when it is appropriate for a grown man to cry, and one of those times is when you look upon your Moon Pie with the realization that there is only so much time before both the plastic wrap and your fingers have been sufficiently licked clean of leftover residue. Now that we’ve finished the Moon Pie, I think now it’s been long enough that we can reminisce about it.

The sea salt caramel Moon Pie is soft, gooey, and tastes of deliciously sweet (and salty) caramel. It has exactly the right amount of salt, caramel, graham cracker, and marshmallow. Truly this is culinary inventiveness at its finest.

Verdict – 6/5: The salted caramel Moon Pie isn’t the greatest achievement of man to date, but the first half of this sentence is wrong.

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Review: Moon Pie Bites

How is everyone doing? It’s your favorite Shameless Consumer here with another review. No, not that cheap imposter that took my job, I am the one and only Sha’Meless Consuman; infiltrating your web space like an out of control gorilla in a China shop that sells unsupervised toddlers. You can read my golden words by looking down at the page marked “archive.” I have no idea what language that is, but I’m pretty sure it translates to ‘better than what the drivel we currently publish.’

So the knuckleheads down at Shameless Consumer Industries never revoked my email account, so I’ve been sitting back and listening in on the products being pitched for review. When the news broke that Moon Pie had created a bite sized movie theater version of their world famous (the part of the world that matters anyhow) snack/cushion, I knew it was my time to act.

I got in my car, grabbed a Moon Pie and an RC Cola for the road, and blasted off toward destiny. Cunningly using my not-yet-revoked ID card, I strangled the current Shameless Consumer with the lanyard in the parking lot and stole his deets. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he survived the fall. Protip: don’t fight a fat man after you’ve stolen his food job.

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As I said in my previous review, the Moon Pie is as American as marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers and drizzled in chocolate, not to mention just as tasty. The Moon Pie Bites take that all-American, god given patriotism and infuse it with another national tradition: sneaking food into the movie theater.

A word of warning. Like freedom itself, the effect of Moon Pie Bites is not diluted just because it is in your pocket. Steer clear of any, shall we call them, unpatriotic entities otherwise you’ll be seeing the rockets red glare if you know what I mean. I passed by a theater playing a subtitled movie and let’s just say fireworks smell horrible when they inflame the unbathed and communist leaning.

Moon Pie Bites are described as:

MoonPie iconic brand is now available in a confection. MoonPie Bites are unique and delicious. Same great MoonPie S’More taste!… no campfire necessary. Be the first to try MoonPie Bites!

Boy they are. The campfire might be unnecessary, but I’m a man of conviction and the theaters are overly air conditioned anyway.

One important thing to note, the Moon Pie Bites don’t contain any actual marshmallow. Instead, they use artificial marshmallow flavoring, allowing for the product to be certified kosher and vegetarian.

The Shameless Consumer can sympathize with the kosher crowd, being kosher himself (just don’t read my prior reviews). But to make this all-American product vegetarian? Unfathomable. Hit me up in the comments to let me know if you’re a vegetarian, although I’m sure I don’t have to ask. I’ll remind you before you comment that I am indeed vegetarian as well. I love a plate of cheesy potatoes or broccoli to complement a rack of ribs.

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The Moon Pie Bites smell heavily of graham cracker, but the taste isn’t there. If a ghost farted after eating nothing but graham crackers for days and the fart solidified, I’m sure this is what it’d smell and taste like. I imagine the problem with Moon Pie Bites is that they are too small to encapsulate the Moon Pie experience. Moon Pies are soft and chewy, thick and creamy. These are chalky, crunchy, and closer to malted milk balls.

Regardless, the Moon Pie Bite is the Terry Bolea to Moon Pie’s Hulk Hogan: The underlying reality that is probably capable of suing us into bankruptcy if I take this analogy down an inappropriate road, not that I care because I don’t work here. This product is just unpatriotic at its core. What self-serving American takes a product and makes it smaller? Here’s how you spin off Moon Pies: Double stuffed chocolate marshmallow with sprinkles, and a coupon for a free box of M&Ms. You know, for dessert.

If you’re going to the movies, you’re better of just sneaking an actual Moon Pie in with you. It’s more filling, it’s probably cheaper than the bites, and if the usher catches you with a couple Moon Pies in your pocket, it’s not like he’s going to throw you out. You’re probably more likely to get a high five and an RC Cola. I’m pretty sure it’s in the constitution.

Ultimately, I have to give these a pass. They are the unnecessary, lower quality version of a product that was already portable, and they take away more than they add as an alternative. Useful if you can’t handle the piledriver of freedom delivered by the people’s Moon Pie elbow and need to build up an immunity before going for the full product.

Speaking of Moon Pie’s, it’s about ten thirty. Time for a Moon Pie break. This is your original Shameless Consumer signing out for now, unless my former employer wises up or my successor (if you can call him that) fails to return to work. By which I mean he dies.

Verdict: 2/5 – A low quality replacement to a product that was already portable. As unAmerican as Tofurkey, miniaturizing products, and those unfrosted cupcakes. 

Shameless Classic: Moon Pie Banana

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The Moon Pie is a confectionery dessert which was gifted by God himself when a meteorite deposited the first pie in Chattanooga in 1917, upon which the factory was built and has continued manufacturing to this very day. Some have speculated that the Moon Pie was the first form of viral advertising, to bring attention to the moon which shared the same shape and relative size when viewed from Earth and appeared in the sky at about the same time. This is actually where the name “moon” is derived. This date also marks the first full implementation of nighttime farming thanks to the luminescence of moonlight, whereas farmers had previously been forced to have one hand free to direct the backlight of their cell phones, a difficult and often dangerous task. To celebrate, the citizens of Mobile Alabama constructed a 12-foot Moon Pie which is raised up on new years in the hopes that a new flavor would be granted via astrological event.

But enough history for one day. The Moon Pie is a deceptively simple concoction, three graham cracker cookies filled with marshmallow and covered in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana. Preparing and eating the Moon Pie is just as simple of a procedure, with two very easy steps: Remove from package and shovel into mouth. The simplicity of preparation made this a hit among coal miners, who desired something filling and heavy, but also tasty and reminiscent of American exceptionalism. The snack is commonly associated with another pillar of American society, RC Cola, and even inspired the creation of the hit song “Gimmee an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.” You can go ahead and look this up all you want, I’m not lying.

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Let’s talk nutrition. Every Moon Pie proudly boasts 0% trans fats and 0% communism. The key ingredients are enriched wheat flour, corn syrup, sugar, vegetable shortening, dutched cocoa, cocoa, kosher gelatin, baking soda, lecithin, salt, artificial flavoring, and sodium sulfite. I know what you’re thinking, and yes this food does contain lecithin, a stabilizer derived from animal fat. So theoretically, you might just be snacking on a chicken cordon Moon Pie. Luckily the product also contains Thiamine Mononitrate, which can be used to preserve meats, ensuring your free range 100% breast meat Moon Pie parmesan stays fresh until well past its liberal-enforced yet meaningless expiration date and can accompany you to the afterlife following Armageddon.

There is also the factor of Iron, of which Moon Pies contain 8%. Moon Pies also weigh in with 7g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 55g carbohydrates, 27g sugar, and the sodium of approximately one third of a TGIF Loaded Potato Skin with Cheddar and Bacon. These ingredients come together to form a creation that is sweet, chewy, and filling. They are cheap and in sufficient quantities are capable of curing even the worst cases of dictatorship. They aren’t vegetarian friendly, but then again neither are you. For an additional bonus, you can microwave them for 5 to 15 seconds for an out-of-this-world treat. Communication with heaven is not a guaranteed part of this deal, but if you microwave the Moon Pie in its foil packaging and stand right in front of the microwave, your chances increase dramatically.

I give the Moon Pie five bald eagles out of five, this is a treat that is best consumed tongue in cheek.