We're pretty sure that everyone ate Pepperidge Farm cookies growing up. If you didn't routinely eat Chessmen or Genevas, your parents at least bought you Milanos. Moms who wouldn't dream of glancing at Chips Ahoy in the grocery store were always happy to bring home Milanos. Perhaps it's the small package that belies the many layers of cookies stored inside, or the demure bag that doesn't try to trap you with elves or sprinkles or exclamation points or any such garish device. Either way, we were always happy to find these elegant sandwich cookies nestled in our lunch boxes and bags.
It's the 75th anniversary of Pepperidge Farm, and since we've already tried every kind of Oreo, it didn't take much to get us to embark on the task of trying every single cookie they make.
And how many cookies they make! Maybe you've never really tried to archive the various sweet discs that come in those folded-top paper bags but they really have quite the collection. There are the Distinctive Cookies, which you probably just thought of as "the Places": Geneva, Brussels, Tahiti. ("Distinctive Cookies" is written very faintly at the botton of the package, because Distinction doesn't abrasively announce itself, of course.) In other words, the classics.
Then there's the Milano family. The popularity of the Milano has led it into many different incarnations à la Oreo. While you probably already have fond feelings for the Mint or the Double, you might not know about the Raspberry, the Melts, or the Milano Cake.
The Homestyle cookies resemble kinds you might make at home for a holiday or a special occasion: Gingerman, Shortbread, and Sugar, to name a few. We loved some of these and didn't care for others.
And finally, the Big Cookies. They fall under the categories of Soft Baked, Chunk, and Soft Baked Chunk. These didn't invoke the same fondness or attachment as the Distinctives. They also get pretty complicated (have you ever tried to think about the difference between a Soft Baked Chunk Nantucket Dark Chocolate and a Chunk Double Chocolate Nantucket Dark Chocolate? I have, and I wouldn't recommend it). Our excitement over the smaller packages quickly fell when we dove into these guys. The soft ones have a strange taste and texture that were a bust among all our taste buds. The crunchy (Chunk) ones are too crunchy in the same way that the soft ones are too soft: neither kind seems like they were created through any normal baking method. The crunchy, ostensibly baked longer than the soft, bear no oven marks to show for it, but they do have a better, buttery taste.
We're sure you've been eating Pepperidge Farm as long as we have, but click on the links below or flip through the slideshow to experience our taste test of every single one. And hit us with your own rants and raves over these classics and not-so-classics in the comments below!
- Milano Melts: Dark Classic Creme
- Milano Melts: Mint Chocolate Creme
- Milano Melts: Vanilla Creme
- Milano Slices: Crunchy Almond
- Milano Slices: Sweet Toffee
- Milano Orange
- Milano Raspberry
- Milano Double Chocolate
- Milano Milk Chocolate
- Milano Mint
- Milano Cake
- Soft Baked: Santa Cruz Oatmeal Raisin
- Soft Baked Chunk: Montauk Milk Chocolate
- Soft Baked Chunk: Captiva Dark Chocolate Brownie
- Chunk: Chesapeake Dark Chocolate Pecan
- Chunk: Sausalito Milk Chocolate Macadamia
- Chunk: Tahoe White Chocolate Macadamia
- Chunk: Nantucket Dark Chocolate
- Chunk: Maui Milk Chocolate Coconut Almond
- Chunk: Double Chocolate Nantucket Dark Chocolate
- Chunk: Lexington Milk Chocolate Toffee Almond
A handsome cookie, and Robyn's favorite, we like this buttery cookie for its crispy texture and sweet but salty flavor. We think of it as a lighter alternative to shortbread.
We all love Brussels for their crumbly, buttery texture and the slight chewiness that comes from little bits of oatmeal.
The cookie has a nice soft and chewy texture, but needs more of the strawberry jam.
A coconut shortbread-like version of a Brussels, this is a great cookie that is far superior to the plain Coconut cookie. Actual chunks of coconut give it a chewy quality, and it also has that satisfying shortbread sandiness.
These have a great caramel-y, burnt sugar taste, as well as a fantastic super-crisp texture.
Verona (Apricot Raspberry)
Same as the Strawberry: tasty, but more jam please!
We liked the dark chocolate against the super-crisp, slightly salty cookie.
We weren't crazy about this shortbread—a little salt is a good thing, but, surprisingly for a packaged cookie, this had too much.
A superb little g-man: really crispy, with wonderful visible sugar granules on the top and sufficiently ginger-y flavor. These would get along famously with a hot drink.
Decent flavor, but it's sandy like shortbread instead of dense like a christmas sugar cookie or chewy like a year-rounder. Not a favorite.
Super crispy and sandy, these are a bit dry though quite lemon-y.
If you're a coconut person, go for the Tahiti's instead of this one. They don't have as much real coconut in them, and like the Lemon they're a bit dry.
Milano Melts: Mint Chocolate Creme
Our previous ambivalence towards melts stands, but the mint creme is OK: not overly artificial-tasting.
Milano Melts: Dark Classic Creme
The melts aren't bad. The outside Milano part is as crunchy as always. The creme is gooey chocolate so while it's not amazing it is, of course, not terrible. Still, none of us here would choose these over a classic Milano. There's something a little off-putting about "melted chocolate" that hasn't actually been recently heated.
Milano Melts: Vanilla Creme
A bit different than the others because of the chocolate outside. The vanilla creme tastes a lot like frosting, which some of us liked.
Milano Slices: Crunchy Almond
The Milano Slices series is good for someone who loves a Milano but wants more middle and less cookie: the chocolate here is layered more thickly than it is in the classic cookie, and there is only one cookie instead of two. The crunchy almond pieces are a nice touch, adding a little texture without greatly changing the flavor.
Milano Slices: Sweet Toffee
Similar to the Crunchy Almond slice, the Sweet Toffee has a sharper crunch and the added flavor and sweetness of toffee.
There is a lot of orange flavor here...maybe too much. The taste is a bit grating and artificial.
Tastes like childhood to all of us. Milanos are still as satisfying and delicious as they were back then.
These have a good raspberry flavor, much preferable to the artificial orange.
Milano Double Chocolate
In Leandra's words, these are everything good and right in this world but double.
Milano Milk Chocolate
These are as good as the original, and better if you prefer milk chocolate.
Almost as classic as the original Milano, these are super scrumptious and deliciously minty.
Soft Baked: Santa Cruz Oatmeal Raisin
No one here at SEHQ had anything remotely nice to say about the Soft Baked series. They taste strange and unnatural, and they're squishy as though they haven't been cooked (but aren't tasty like cookie dough). The only good thing about these Santa Cruz Oatmeal Raisins are that they have a lot of cinnamon in them.
Soft Baked Chunk: Montauk Milk Chocolate
More Soft Baked, more bad news. The big chunks of milk chocolate are nice, but they have the same strange soft baked flavor and texture (if you aren't sure what we're talking about, these cookies are comparable to Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies).
Soft Baked Chunk: Captiva Dark Chocolate Brownie
These got an especially hard review, as Sam said they tasted like brownie cardboard.
Chunk: Chesapeake Dark Chocolate Pecan
The Chunk series aren't as bad as the Soft Baked but no one was a big fan. They are too crunchy in the same way that the soft ones are too soft: neither kind seems like they were created through any normal baking method. The flavor here is much better, though, with a large hint of butter that is nice.
Chunk: Sausalito Milk Chocolate Macadamia
Despite the aforementioned vexing texture, I have always been a fan of the Sausalito cookie. I like the buttery flavor, oversized chunks of milk chocolate, and pieces of crunchy macadamia nut.
Chunk: Tahoe White Chocolate Macadamia
The white chocolate make the already sugary cookie a bit sweet, but the macadamia nuts balance this out nicely.
Chunk: Nantucket Dark Chocolate
One of the generally preferred big cookies, but not as good as the Double Chocolate Nantucket Dark Chocolate.
Chunk: Maui Milk Chocolate Coconut Almond
Tastes a lot like the Sausalito, except with the barest hint of coconut. This coconut definitely comes from extract; there are no shards to speak of.
Chunk: Double Chocolate Nantucket Dark Chocolate
The difference between this one and the the Nantucket Dark Chocolate seems to be chocolate in the batter. It's a bit darker and has a slightly chocolatier taste.
Chunk: Lexington Milk Chocolate Toffee Almond
This one was very similar to Maui and Sausalito, except with some toffee pieces.
We were both pleasantly surprised and slightly disappointed by this one. The cake was surprisingly tasty, with the flavor of a good sheet cake, and the frosting simply tasted like packaged chocolate frosting. It's good, it just isn't really a milano, and the crumbled cookies on top didn't fool us.