Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every month or so, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After three rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of 2020, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation toward.
The previous Takeout Draft: Best apple stuff was an Allison Robicelli victory by a wide margin. Newcomers Dennis and Lillian are undeterred, however, and each of them vows to win this time around.
This month, we’re walkin’ in a winter wonderland, and only one of us can draft the superior team for best mint chocolate items. It’s the flavor combination of the season! Everyone loves it—but in what form, exactly?
Competing in the Thunderdome this week are members of the Takeout staff: Aimee Levitt, Allison Robicelli, Marnie Shure, Lillian Stone, and Dennis Lee. The randomizer has selected a draft order:
Now, let’s jingle all the way.
Allison: Feeling great about my win!
Marnie: Ready to kick things off, Dennis?
Dennis: All right, everyone, for my first favorite mint chocolate item, I’m going with a heavy hitter: Andes Chocolate Mints.
Lillian: What is this, the Ritz?
Aimee: Didn’t you know?
Dennis: Those wafers. That foil. So thin, delicately minty, and they melt so fast!
Aimee: Sweet dreams, everyone.
Marnie: They have the BEST consistency and I will never understand it.
Dennis: So smooth! When I was a kid they were really a big deal to get.
Aimee: My bubbe kept them in the candy dish at her house.
Allison: What’s miraculous about them is that they’re so cheap, and yet also the apex of elegance.
Dennis: See? Yes, you get it! I know there’s other versions of Andes chocolate wafers, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them because they don’t matter.
Lillian: I don’t think I’ve ever, like, seen them in the store. Only in people’s candy dishes and/or restaurants! And that is special to me.
Aimee: They clean the palate so well after dinner. (Preferably a very expensive and meaty dinner.)
Dennis: I haven’t had them in a while, but the last time I had them they were just as good as I’d remembered.
Marnie: Well damn, my first pick is going to look like peanuts next to that. But to claim another heavy hitter: I choose Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies.
Dennis: Oh snaaaaap!
Lillian: Marnie is going iiiiiiiin.
Dennis: This is truly a haymaker blow.
Marnie: There are many imitators, but this is the one that gets people most excited. Perhaps because of its scarcity!
Aimee: Only twice a year! But you can freeze them and make them last longer.
Allison: I’m going to get myself cancelled for this, but I think Thin Mints are overrated. Do-Si-Do is the money cookie.
Marnie: Well, sure, but it’s not a peanut butter draft.
Lillian: Okay, is there any merit to that rumor that Keebler uses the exact same formula in their year-round cookies?
Aimee: I refuse to believe that, mostly because I hated selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door so much and all these years later, I still don’t want it to have been in vain.
Lillian: I wanted to be a Girl Scout, but my parents made me take Tae Kwon Do instead.
Allison: When I was growing up there were no girl scouts in my part of Brooklyn, and I was desperate to become one because I was fascinated by the idea of nature and the outdoors. Like the very concept of land was exciting to me.
Aimee: My Brownie troop had absolutely nothing to do with the outdoors. We did do a puppet show performance of The Gingerbread Man in a nursing home once, though. All the old people yelled at us to go away.
Allison: My turn! For my first pick, I’m going with York Peppermint Patties. Particularly frozen York Peppermint Patties, which may be the best of all the frozen candies.
Dennis: I don’t think I’ve ever had a frozen patty. What’s the texture like?
Allison: I wasn’t really a fan until I was tipped off about freezing them. There’s something about the way they snap and how the cold mellows the mint so it doesn’t remind you of toothpaste. That’s my problem with 99% of mint-flavored products.
Dennis: They definitely weren’t like a kid type candy I ever sought out. I think they’re also marketed to adults mostly!
Aimee: They did have a campaign with Snoopy for a while. And Peppermint Patty, of course.
Allison: I normally got them from trick or treating, which I loved because it made it feel like a special, seasonal candy. Like Mr. Goodbar and Krackel.
Aimee: I keep hearing from the candy snobs that the British version is better. But they say that about all the candy.
Marnie: Too true. First pick, Aimee?
Aimee: Frango Mints!
Marnie: CHICAGO’S OWN!
Lillian: SO FANCY!
Aimee: I love them so much. They are definitely my favorite mint candy.
Allison: I have never heard of these in my entire life.
Aimee: They are a cheap luxury. We will have to send you a box.
Dennis: Dammit I was going to pick Frangos, too.
Lillian: Not to be confused with Rango, the Johnny Depp lizard film.
Aimee: They are creamier than the other chocolate mint candies, and the mint and chocolate are mixed together. When I was little, my friend and I used to dare each other to go up to the candy counter at Marshall Field’s to ask for a sample. And we always got them and we were so pleased with ourselves.
Dennis: In my memory I remember them being not super great, but they feel fancy as hell.
Aimee: TAKE IT BACK!
Dennis: Nostalgia is a strong flavor, Aimee.
Lillian: FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Aimee: I still eat them! And they are still great. So there.
Marnie: Lillian, cut this tension with a knife and/or with your first pick!
Lillian: Okay, okay! My first pick is GHIRARDELLI PEPPERMINT BARK SQUARES.
Dennis: Oh, those are fun.
Lillian: I love how thin they are. It makes me feel like I can eat a million, and they’re very good for nibbling. My sister somehow always has them in her bedroom when I go home for Christmas, and her room is RIGHT by the bathroom. So I always scoop one up on my way in or out.
Plus, what’s better than a shiny wrapper? Humans love those. We know this.
Aimee: I like how you make it seem like an accident.
Lillian: She always hides them in the same place. I also think their cubicle nature makes them more fun to eat. Like, they wouldn’t be as fun in larger candy bar form.
Dennis: I only seem to want to get them when I’m at Walgreens or CVS, though, and not the grocery store.
Lillian: Yes Dennis!!! In those little three-packs. I’m glad we can all agree on these. This pleases me.
Marnie: This draft is powerful and majestic.
Aimee: Like a chocolate mint reindeer.
Marnie: AND you have another pick to use, Lillian.
Lillian: Oh, that’s right! Okay, I feel really, really strongly about this one: Graeter’s Mint Chip ice cream.
Aimee: Why Graeter’s specifically?
Lillian: So, my friend Adrienne is from Cincinnati where it’s made, and she’s been evangelizing about Graeter’s for years. It’s not sold in my hometown, but it IS sold in Chicago (and throughout the upper Midwest, if I’m not mistaken). I actually tried it for the first time a few weeks ago, and it is no joke the best mint chip ice cream of all time. Huge chocolate chunks, super creamy.
Allison: I had heard so much hype about Graeter’s for years, and when they finally started shipping to NYC I was so disappointed. The bar was set unreasonably high and there was no way it could ever live up to the stories I’d heard.
Lillian: Well, did you have the mint chip?
Dennis: I could see this getting ugly…
Marnie: Huge chocolate chunks are key! The “chips” in mint chip ice cream always feel like the teeniest slivers of chocolate shavings.
Lillian: Marnie, exactly! Graeter’s goes really hard on the chunks. I don’t want anything to do with a sliver. They leave a weird residue on your tongue.
Allison: The downside: large chocolate chunks are impractical in ice cream cones. If you prefer to casually lick an ice cream cone, you want flecks that will melt on your tongue.
Lillian: True! That’s why I eat ice cream out of plastic salsa bowls.
Marnie: Mint Chip ice cream, gone in the second round. How do you follow that, Aimee?
Aimee: I follow it with a hot fudge sundae with peppermint ice cream. That way you don’t have to deal with the chunk/sliver conundrum, and you get the warm fudge and the cold ice cream, and whipped cream. It’s so delicious!
It makes me sad that so many places only have peppermint ice cream in December.
Marnie: It’s like you’ve hacked the Draft.
Lillian: Oh wow. What’s your go-to spot?
Aimee: I had a great one at Lickety Split in Edgewater last December.
Dennis: I was feeling the same way, but I keep thinking about this, and it sounds amazing.
Marnie: Allison, you’re on the heels of two consecutive ice cream picks. How do you respond?
Allison: Going with a grasshopper. I’ve been sober for over five years now, but if I were to ever go back to making poor personal decisions, grasshoppers would most definitely be part of the equation. Problem with grasshoppers is that you can’t drink just one. They’re like liquid mint chocolate chip ice cream that will get you completely shitfaced.
Dennis: I went to a bar that had grasshoppers in a milkshake machine once. Stunning.
Aimee: What is in a grasshopper exactly?
Allison: It’s one part creme de menthe, one part creme de cacao, and one part cream. You shake it up, pour into a martini glass, and have a damn good time.
Aimee: That’s not a drink, that’s dessert in a glass.
Dennis: You’re absolutely right but they’re awesome.
Allison: I remember going to see The Rocky Horror Show when it was revived on Broadway completely wasted on grasshoppers. Thank god it was a show that was okay with audience participation, because I PARTICIPATED.
Marnie: They serve them at the Nightingale supper club in Door County. One of my favorite Wisconsin memories!
Dennis: For me, I think they’re a one and done sort of thing. Drinking a lot of cream and alcohol together… may end up in a bad time for me.
Allison: It always ends up in a bad time. This is why I don’t drink anymore. But those hours before the inevitable comeuppance are delicious.
Marnie: Here’s a grasshopper-inspired answer that doesn’t have quite such disastrous fallout: Peppermint hot chocolate!
Lillian: Ah! Yes! Do you get the kind from Trader Joe’s?
Aimee: I just bought a fresh canister from Penzey’s.
Marnie: I haven’t tried either of those! I’ll have to do some research.
Dennis: Marnie, from a package or bought?
Marnie: Both! Flavoring at home with peppermint schnapps is very fun, but it all tastes the same whether you booze it up or not.
Dennis: Might as well just sneak the schnapps into Starbucks. Turn you into Mayhem Marnie.
Dennis: My second pick is a movie theater favorite. When we could go to them. JUNIOR MINTS!
Marnie: NOOOOO MY ACE IN THE HOLE!
Dennis: I’m surprised nobody’s picked them yet! Sorry, Marnie!!!
Marnie: I can’t believe you scooped ‘em!
Dennis: Listen, I got so hosed last time I have to really go hard, you know?
But yes, they really speak for themselves. They’re tiny and melt really fast, and are kind of a juvenile York Peppermint Patty.
Lillian: I’m not sure how to ask this politely, but do you ever smoosh yours? Like between your hands? While watching the movie?
Marnie: EXCLUSIVELY, LILLIAN.
Lillian: RING A DING DING!
Allison: Have you ever mixed them into movie theater popcorn?
Lillian: God bless America, yes.
Dennis: Is that good? I like Reese’s and popcorn because they semi fit together with the savory peanut butter thing. Minty popcorn…
Lillian: I used to work at a movie theater, and we’d dish out popcorn-candy combos for ourselves near constantly.
Aimee: Which was the best one?
Lillian: Gotta be Buncha Crunch. But Junior Mints are awesome in popcorn, too.
Dennis: Lillian, you’ve lived many lives.
Marnie: You have one more pick, Dennis. But I don’t know how it could outshine Junior Mints.
Dennis: Well, you’ve all picked what I would have. Thin Mints, Peppermint Patties, various ice creams. So I’m going back the nostalgia route and I’m picking Mint Chocolate Milanos from Pepperidge Farm.
Aimee: Oh, those are so good! My sister and I used to fight over them. My mom had to buy us separate bags.
Allison: I’ve been eating those in bed recently. They’re a good nighttime cookie!
Dennis: Aren’t they great? I only really had them growing up and they were a huge treat, like almost special occasion, and they made me feel fancy!
Marnie: We used to visit the Pepperidge Farm factory outlet and we’d each get to select a bag.
Dennis: Did you pick Milanos or were you more of a chocolate chip cookie kid?
Marnie: I always tried to get as many different ones as possible, like trading cards.
Lillian: Gotta munch em all.
Dennis: But yes, that’s my pick. I haven’t thought about them in years, but this mint chocolate thing really brought back memories.
Marnie: Sweet and simple. My next pick is... Mint Oreos. A good example of a product made more exciting by the addition of mint. Normal Oreos just kind of taste flatly sweet.
Allison: These I quibble with, because the filling tastes like mint toothpaste!
Dennis: Brush your teeth with the filling.
Aimee: The Peppermint Bark Oreos are killer.
Lillian: Agree with Aimee, Peppermint Bark Oreos are king.
Allison: Another thing getting me cancelled: I don’t like the filling of Oreos. I only like the cookie part.
Marnie: I’ll be honest, I don’t even really like Oreos. But I want Oreos on my team, because I know they have devotees. Feel me?
Lillian: Oh, the humanity!
Dennis: Pandering to the audience!!!
Aimee: I love Oreos dunked in milk. They are the perfect dunking cookie.
Dennis: Have any of you had Tim Tams?
Lillian: Yes! Love Tim Tams
Dennis: Have you ever done the Tim Tam slam?!
Lillian: .... Please go on
Dennis: I’m about to blow your minds. For the uninitiated reading this: They’re shaped like rectangles and are cookies dipped in chocolate. What you do is bite the opposite corners off a cookie, just two of them. Then, dip one of those corners into a hot beverage (highly recommend coffee), and slurp through the corner. These cookies are porous. When the coffee hits your lips, then you need to slam the cookie immediately because the entire thing starts to melt. It pretty much disintegrates into your mouth and is like nothing else you’ve ever eaten!
Aimee: I like watching videos of people trying it.
Allison: I’ve never had a Tim Tam and need to find them immediately.
Dennis: It’s so much fun, and I’m sorry I derailed this conversation, but this is something you all needed to know.
Marnie: Welp, I’ve half-assedly stood up for Oreos, which means it’s Allison’s turn! Final pick?
Allison: Alright, I’ve decided to go full batshit wildcard with my final pick: Mint Chocolate Lip Gloss. Specifically, mint chocolate Lip Smackers from Bonne Bell.
Marnie: This is the sort of pick that The Takeout Draft is all about.
Lillian: This is an incredible pick. INCREDIBLE.
Allison: Bonne Bell Lip Smackers were essentially proto-makeup for girls who weren’t old enough to wear the real stuff. You got the kid-friendly flavor, but felt like a fancy grownup because you were wearing “lipstick.”
Bonne Bell’s Lip Smackers came in all sorts of candy and soda flavors, but they were usually disappointing because without the carbonation, Orange Crush lip balm sorta falls flat. But mint chocolate? That holds up!
Marnie: The dog always ate the Lip Smackers out of our backpacks and she’d have the glossiest, most kissable lips afterwards.
Dennis: That seems like a major problem for the dog, and all of you.
Lillian: Now Dennis, dogs can also have glamour.
Marnie: Beautiful. But maybe not as beautiful as Aimee’s final pick?
Aimee: I am very torn. It’s going to be a pain in the ass to get mint hot chocolate doughnuts this year since everything is closed. So I’m going to go with mint chocolate brownies, which I can make at home.
Marnie: Does the mint come through in the batter, the frosting, or both?
Aimee: I prefer it in the batter, but that’s just because I don’t like frosted brownies in general.
Lillian: Ooh, tasty. Is this an extract situation?
Aimee: Yes! Or mint chocolate chips, which are also wonderful.
Allison: Here’s a hack for you guys: if you like making brownies from a mix, replace some of the oil with creme de menthe or peppermint schnapps.
Marnie: Very few homemade items on the list so far. Mint brownies are a solid entry.
Allison: It’s the holidays and I don’t want to bake for myself. I want others to bake for ME.
Marnie: It all comes down to Lillian.
Dennis: Drumroll, please.
Aimee: The suspense!
Lillian: Friends, countrymen, I’m pleased to announce my final pick. A pick without which no holiday gathering is complete. A pick that incorporates the much-maligned candy cane in a truly elegant way. Everyone, I give you... peppermint fudge.
Aimee: So fudge with chunks of peppermint in it?
Lillian: Could be! Or chocolate fudge with peppermint extract, topped with candy cane. OR white chocolate! Go wild, it’s the holidays. Just a little crunch on the top.
Dennis: I can feel my teeth aching just by thinking about this
Marnie: Dennis is SKEPTICAL.
Lillian: Yeah, Dennis, I gotta say I was expecting a stronger response from you and your adventurous sweet tooth.
Dennis: I have a phobia of my teeth falling out. They just fell out thinking about this.
Lillian: Well, yeah, but what a way to kiss them goodbye.
Aimee: What a way to end the draft.
Lillian: I think our readers are gonna come through for peppermint fudge. I really do.
Aimee: Are you trying to influence the vote?
Lillian: I am simply proclaiming my confidence in my intuition.
Marnie: Let the votes (and Dennis’s teeth) fall where they may.