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11 Flavor Innovations That Were Better Than The Original

Our favorite flavors of these snacks, drinks, candy, and desserts aren't always the classics.

When it comes to one's daily diet, most people tend to be creatures of habit. They like what they like, and they don't see any need to mess with a good thing. I am not that type of person.

To me, there is no snack so good that it shouldn't be messed with at least a little. It's always worth it to try making something newly sour, or crunchy, or frosted where it wasn't before (Oreo Cakesters, you have my attention). There's no greater thrill than strolling past a favorite snack or drink at the grocery store, only to see some distinctly colored package signaling the release of a new flavor experiment. I am a sucker. I am a mark. Modern advertising has done its job. But I don't care; I love it.

Snack enthusiast that I am, I do have to admit these alternative flavors usually end in disappointment. Even when they're good, new flavors and snack variations are rarely better than the original; many just leave me craving the superior classic version. But every once in a while, the food scientists knock it out the park, resulting in a snack that shines brighter than its inspiration.

Here are 11 "new" flavors that topped the original, each one a true innovation success story.

Peanut M&M’s

This is kind of cheating, because almost every variation on M&M's is better than the original, but Peanut M&M's take the spot on this list for being one of the original snack innovators. The first M&M's were released in 1941 and are a perfectly fine chocolate treat that benefits from a fun, snackable size and inviting candy coating. Following on their heels a decade later, the superior Peanut version blew the classic product out of the water by adding not only some nice nutty flavor, but more importantly, a supremely satisfying crunch. It's a formula M&M's has come back to again and again with other great varieties like Crunchy Cookie, Almond, and Pretzel.


Dr. Pepper Cherry

Despite being a popular flavor among vintage sodas, full-on cherry options are sadly lacking from the major beverage brands, with only Cherry 7-UP coming close. Original Dr. Pepper is already a top-tier soda, and I'm sure purists will balk at the assertion that the Cherry variety surpasses it, but the latter brings a soda-fountain smoothness that balances out the indescribable "spice" of its forebear. It's a little sweeter, maybe too sweet, but the cherry flavor is great, and it's the best can of Dr. Pepper money can buy. It's also the closest thing you can get to Cheerwine in many grocery stores around the country, which is about as big a compliment as I can give a soda.


Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are iconic and delicious, but even hardcore fans have to admit the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter is just a little off, especially at the thick ridged edges of the cup. The sadly seasonal Reese's Egg recognizes that the peanut butter is the real star of the show, offering a much higher ratio of salty filling that's only slightly cut by the sweet chocolate. It also has a better texture, with a softer, more malleable chocolate coating that makes the whole thing pleasantly creamy. Even Reese's seems to recognize that the Easter special outdid the original, as the brand has been releasing more copycats like Holiday Trees and Valentine's Hearts that use the same general formula.


Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream

Some choices on this list were difficult; this one was not. Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles might be my nomination for best potato chip period. Cheesy and just a little bit tart, this flavor profile, paired with Ruffles' excellent baseline crunchability, is unstoppably snackable. Ruffles was already the industry king of Sour Cream & Onion, and the cheddar version adds just enough cheese flavor to make it soar even higher without losing the sour cream appeal. I have unfortunately never tasted the vaunted All-Dressed flavor, so I can't say for sure Cheddar & Sour Cream is the best, but if Canada's favorite wants to take the title, it's got to come to the United States and tangle.


Reese’s Sticks

The Reese's Egg's seasonality, and Reese's own propensity for releasing an unmanageable number of variations, are more than enough justification to bring a second innovation triumph into this list. The inimitable Reese's Stick pulls off the same trick as the Egg, giving you a better ratio of peanut butter and chocolate flavor, but it also adds a delightful crispiness to the formula. The wafer cookies make Reese's Sticks land somewhere between the classic Reese's Cups and a Kit Kat bar, which is just as perfect as it sounds. The Sticks debuted in 1998 and presaged a whole wave of Reese's candy bars like Fast Break and Crispy Crunchy—but none of them ever topped this.


Tropical Skittles

Tropical Skittles (the blue bag) might be another controversial choice, not because of the original, but because of the popularity of the other common Skittles variation, Wild Berry (the purple bag). Both variations are better than the basic Skittles, which are tasty but saddled with a few duds (orange), and which also don't quite taste distinct enough from each other to work as a flavor mix. Wild Berry was an improvement, but Tropical Skittles pop even more, with a brightness from flavors like kiwi and pineapple that works better with the candies' chewy texture.


Double Stuf Oreos

Adding this to the list was a difficult decision, as I'm a staunch defender of the original Oreo as the superior version when eaten whole. But Oreos aren't made to be eaten whole, they're made to be twisted, and that's where the mighty Double Stuf pulls off the coup. Instead of one creme-and-chocolate open-faced cookie and one bland discard, you get the best bite twice. None of Oreo's new flavors are ever quite as good as the original, but Double Stuf is just the original in its idealized form.


MTN DEW Baja Blast

One of the stranger success stories in the beverage space, Baja Blast was originally a Taco Bell exclusive when it was released in 2004, but it became such a cult hit that MTN DEW has taken to nearly annual limited releases of the vibrant flavor in stores. While original Dew has quite the following itself, it can be a cloyingly sweet and syrupy experience, even by soda standards. Baja Blast's ambiguous "Tropical Lime" flavor, however, is a bit more bright and drinkable thanks to the hit of citrus, and maybe some pineapple too? Who knows. Whatever it is, Baja Blast's more refreshing take on the Dew flavor makes it the star of the whole lineup.


Snickers Dark

Snickers has a lot of flavors to choose from these days, the best of which is the peanut, caramel, and nougat mashup of the original. There was, however, one variation that topped it for the brief time it was available: Snickers Dark. The gooey, chewy centerpiece of the bar remained unchanged from the classic, but coating it in dark chocolate instead of milk pulled back on the sweetness just enough to push the candy bar from excellent to perfect. Released in 2006, Snickers Dark was a short-lived product, but given the staying power that other dark chocolate variations of popular candy bars have had, this one deserves a permanent revival.


Cool Ranch Doritos

Frito-Lay's chip chefs had a banner year in 1986, putting out not just the previously mentioned Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles, but a second iconic flavor with Cool Ranch Doritos. The original Doritos flavor was actually just a plain corn chip—Nacho Cheese didn't debut until 1974—but Cool Ranch topped them both. Even as a ranch skeptic, it's hard to deny the zesty seasoning is a perfect chip flavor, with just enough of a hint of creaminess and buttermilk tang to be refreshing without hitting the sickeningly rich flavor of normal ranch that can turn people off the sauce.


Orange Tic Tacs

Even for the best new products, it's rare to release a new flavor that completely changes how the same item is eaten. Orange Tic Tacs pulled that off by turning a mint into a snack. The mixture of orange flavor with a little bit of minty coolness is unique and incredibly hard to put down. Even though original mint Tic Tacs still line grocery store checkouts, the Orange is the icon, and it did its job so well that you are more likely to see packs of fruity Tic Tacs than peppermint ones. The brand may cling to its breath mint identity, but thanks to Orange, everyone knows the real way to eat a Tic Tac is by chowing down on half a container dumped directly in your mouth.