A standout among well-loved cookies

By Kathy Saunders, Times Correspondent
Published November 28, 2007


Marshmallow cookie rankings:

1. Mallomar

2. Great Value

3. Little Debbie 

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Whenever my father did the grocery shopping which wasn't very often, he came home with lots of what my mother affectionately called "trash." One of those items would be a bag of Pinwheels - the cookies topped with marshmallows and coated with chocolate.

Like my father, I am a huge fan of the Pinwheel and all of its relatives, including the Mallomar, which was declared "the greatest cookie of all time" by Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally.

Taster's Choice judges didn't go quite as far as Harry in their fondness for the Mallomar. But they did give it more votes than any of the six chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies they sampled.

The Mallomar ($4.19 for an 8-ounce box from Publix) received 72 of 100 possible points from our judges. Three of the five said they will buy a box on their next grocery run. At the local Publix where we bought them, the cookies were included in a holiday display.

The Mallomars had a strong chocolate flavor, deep-brown color and a pleasing roundness. "There's a great spring in the marshmallow," said one panelist.

Another judge liked the vanilla flavor in the cookie and the moistness of the marshmallow.

The Mallomar proved a bit boring for a couple of judges, who preferred the second choice, the less expensive version of the Nabisco Pinwheels produced by Great Value for Wal-Mart (94 cents for a 12-ounce package). Judges gave the Great Value cookies 61 points and, again, three said they would buy the brand.

"I think this is the ultimate cookie because each of the three parts has its own, individual taste," said one panelist.

Little Debbie's version of the Pinwheel, Marshmallow Supremes, was the judges' third choice. The Supremes ($4.49 for 12 ounces from Albertsons) received 54 points. But only one of the five judges said she would buy the Little Debbie cookies.

Panelists disliked the Supremes' thick marshmallow and thin chocolate, and they also would have preferred more cookie.

Also sampled were similar cookies from: Albertsons ($1.50 for a 12-ounce package); Publix ($2.49 for a 9.5-ounce package); and Nabisco's Pinwheels ($4.49 for a 12-ounce package from Albertsons).

Panelists were: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; aesthetician Jim Yockey; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product tastings to Taste, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past columns, go to www.sptimes.com/food.