It’s 4 PM and you get the munchies, but don’t want to fill up before dinnertime—where do you turn? Enter junk food snacks. This new column hopes to explore these gems and discover just what lies within their shiny plastic wrappers.
It was one of those mid-week neighborhood grocery trips to refill my weekly essentials: apples, spinach, butter, canned tuna, 24-can pack of Pepsi Max—the usual. But upon reaching the snack aisle, there was a package that almost twinkled and called my name in the way that shiny things do best. Hidden beneath dozens of other snack brands, I paused to locate the flashy culprit.
Sweet, whimsical doughnuts appear on a snack package, presented in a kitschy tiled pattern. The unusual snack is simply labeled “Sweet Oh!” and a description reads, “Donut Shaped Chocolate and Caramel Snack”. With no clear images of what lies inside, you can only derive from the packaging that it is contains everyone’s favorite fried pastry. But donuts… in snack form? How could they differ from mini donuts?
Inside, you get a number of rings—some pink, some brown, some off-white—shaped like Barbie-sized donuts but crunchy and puffy like cereal. Some pieces come coated with a glossy sugar varnish, like glazed donuts a la Krispy Kreme. The rest come enveloped in compound chocolate, similar to icing-topped donuts.
Though the caramel-coated pieces come in different shapes (with one taking on a flower-like appearance after Mister Donut Japan’s Pon de Ring), they all carry a similar flavor. Encased in a thin shell of golden, caramelized sugar, they make for a toasty crunch that’s light enough to pop one after the other. You’re not overwhelmed with sweetness, and the caramelized undertones work especially well with the malty, corn-y flavor residing underneath.
The “iced” ones had compound chocolate coating that sink into the crevices of the discs, and honestly, they’re not my favorite (because vegetable shortening, yum). They come in three colors—white, pale pink, and brown—all carrying a generic milky sweetness (though the last two have hints of fake strawberry and weak cocoa, respectively). But they do grow on you after a while. Once you get past the waxy mouthfeel of compound chocolate, the creaminess it contributes becomes enjoyable in small doses.
So, do these things actually resemble donuts? Not at all, save for the shape. Sure, they did not stray from the official product claim of “donut-shaped chocolate and caramel coated snack”. But the packaging really leads you to certain expectations, and my inner Homer Simpson is left feeling sad and wanting.
I found myself wishing they found ways to make it more donut-like by incorporating other elements typically associated with the pastry. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Powdered sugar? The “oily” taste that makes deep-fried food taste so damn good? I don’t know. Bottom line: there’s more to a donut than just the existence of a hole, and these snacks unfortunately don’t capture it.
Overall, these are still tasty—a fun-shaped, and frankly, freaking adorable cereal that delivers a sweet fix—and there’s the strange but undeniable sense of glory in consuming dozens of doll-sized “donuts” in a sitting. But only in a juvenile way where you might pretend to be the Big Friendly Giant eating regular human-sized donuts, and, uh, we… might have done that.