[Review] Planters Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Mix

Is there any food mascot who is as instantly recognizable yet equally forgettable as Mr. Peanut? I personally feel kind of bad for the guy. He has spent his twilight years in the shadow of more beloved characters such as Tony the Tiger, Kool-Aid Guy, and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Donning a monocle and top hat and sporting a cane, his look doesn’t say “nostalgia” as much as it says “creepy old dude.” Don’t believe me? He only started wearing a shirt six years ago. I can only assume some concerned parents had something to do with that.

To his credit though, Mr. Peanut has steadily built an empire–an empire built on canisters of peanuts, almonds, and cashews. Planters has kept it fairly simple, and it’s worked. But even the classics need a good shake-up once in a while, which is why Planters recently introduced its dessert-inspired mixes: Turtle Sundae, Banana Sundae, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie.

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The Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie mix features peanut butter candy covered peanuts, cocoa peanuts, milk chocolate covered brownie flavor bits, peanuts, and peanut butter candy pieces. That seems like a lot of candy-covered ingredients…and what are “brownie flavor bits?” Is this even a nut mix anymore? At least it smelled very nutty when I opened the bag–hopefully a good sign of things to come.

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I grabbed a handful, and nope. There is a decent crunch at first, but all of the coated and candied ingredients quickly combined into a sugary mush. Even worse, the little nut flavor that I could pick up on was quickly lost as the taste of the peanut butter coating took over. It’s not a “real” peanut butter flavor, either; it’s much more artificial.

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The peanut butter candy covered peanuts are massive compared to the other ingredients, which partly explains the overwhelming peanut butter flavor. Eaten alone, these pieces are really sweet overall, with the taste of the peanut inside popping up at times. The brownie flavor bits mostly consist of the chocolate coating–there’s no flavor beyond the coating or any notable cakey texture to them. I guess it was silly of me to expect “brownie bits” when the package clearly reads “brownie flavor bits.” These bits reminded me of those super artificial Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough Bites they sell at the movie theater. The peanut butter candy pieces are basically just Reese’s Pieces.

This mix is saved by the ingredients that keep it simple (see a theme here, Planters?). The cocoa peanuts are pure chocolatey goodness, sweet with a deep cocoa flavor. They ultimately get lost amidst the peanut butter when eaten altogether, but they are a great component and would be highly addicting on their own. The plain peanuts are good and salty. I can only assume they were tossed in to balance out the mix, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

Planters really tried to do too much here. It attempted a “Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie” nut mix and went way too heavy on the peanut butter, while leaving the basic factor (nuts) as an afterthought. Ultimately, that over-the-top flavor just sits in your mouth, and any saltiness, or other flavor provided by the other ingredients–even the chocolate–is completely lost. All of the coated and candied pieces compromised the overall taste and texture, turning this nut mix into a confectioner’s grab bag.

I’m optimistic that Mr. Peanut can return to form and restore his empire. We might just need to give him some time. I mean, after all, it took the guy 94 years to dress himself.

Item: Planters Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Mix
Price and Place of Purchase: $3.89 at Hy-Vee
Nutrition Facts (serving size-3 Tbsp): 170 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 150 milligrams of potassium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein.
In a Nutshell: The simple ingredients are welcome (and necessary) components. The cocoa peanuts would be a great snack on their own. However, the candied and coated pieces are overpowering, and the resulting flavor is heavily artificial peanut butter. Mr. Peanut has built an empire on his nuts alone. Wait–can someone make sure he’s still wearing pants?
Overall Score:  5 out of 10

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