Taste Test: Thingamajig Vs. Whatchamacallit

Contrary to popular belief, Taste Test was not conceived as a way to torture the business development department's Dave Chang, or to hand him fleeting fame as an Internet Eating Sensation. It also wasn't conceived as a sort of Fear Factor-styled dare, though we've had plenty of those in the past, including last week's blockbuster, Chicken In A Can.

But we're just as inspired by something like Candyblog, which offers a detailed look at everyday items. Sure, there's something new or unusual about each, but nothing that most of the world would find repulsive. (Unlike pickled pig lips.)

So don't be shocked that this week's Taste Test is a candy bar, plain and simple—though a relatively new candy bar. And a limited-edition candy bar at that. Get pumped! You've never eaten a Hershey's Thingamajig, have you? You didn't even know it existed! And if you saw it, you probably thought it was just a Whatchamacallit rip-off—and who eats those, anyway? You'd be wrong, though—it's more curious than that. Both Whatchamacallit and Thingamajig are made by Hershey's, and they have slightly different ingredients. We thought it'd be a good idea to test them head-to-head, in a cage match of crispiness.

First, the claims: Whatchamacallit says it has "peanut flavor crisp, caramel, and rich chocolatey coating." There are several alarm bells to be found there: Those of you that remember Whatchamacallit from your youth will note that the original bar—introduced in 1978—did not contain caramel. Also, and this is the cause of much bigger trouble, it says "chocolatey." This is code for "CANNOT LEGALLY BE LABELED CHOCOLATE." As you can learn at Wikipedia (and often at Candyblog), only products containing cocoa butter can be labeled "chocolate." (Apparently the candy lobby is desperately trying to change this rule, but for now, if it says "chocolatey" or "chocolate-flavored," it probably sucks.)

Thingamajig, in its fancy red wrapper, proudly says "made with chocolate, cocoa crisps, and peanut butter." There is cocoa butter to be had on the ingredients list, too. All is good. (And don't worry about the peanut-butter scare of '09—Hershey's does not purchase peanut products from the Peanut Corporation Of America.) So, to reiterate: one has peanut-flavor crisp, one has cocoa crisp. One has caramel, one has peanut butter. One has a chocolatey coating, one has an actual chocolate coating. They both contain "partially defatted peanuts." (Eww?)

The taste: There's a very clear difference in taste—caramel vs. peanut butter. And Thingamajig didn't win this thing in a walk, like I thought it would. It didn't win this thing at all, really. Vast nostalgic memories of Whatchamacallit came flooding back, and the chewy, slightly dry bar was something of a hit. The crisp inside is peanut-butter flavored, but the overwhelming taste and texture is caramel. The chocolate (ahem, "chocolatey coating") seems almost like an afterthought, and it isn't a huge part of the experience.

As for Thingamajig, it's similar, though much softer, and the cocoa flavor in the crisps is far more evident than the peanut butter in its counterpart. It's a nice balance with the actual peanut butter in this one—it tastes a little like those Hershey's clusters that came out fairly recently. Strangely, though, there is no information on the Internet to be had about Hershey's Thingamajig. Have we been the victims of an elaborate ruse perpetrated by the Walgreen's on Clark Street? Will those of us who enjoyed Thingamajig ever be able to find one again? (Or, worse, was this some 3-year-old box of "limited-edition" candy bars that someone dug out of the basement? Nah, too fresh-tasting for that...) I guess it will have to remain a mystery.

Office reactions:

• "Caramel is king. The Whatchamacallit still reigns supreme."

• "But if I wasn't told ahead of time, I couldn't tell the difference." [This is patently insane. —ed.]

• "The Thingamajig tastes like an inferior Whatchamacallit knockoff... which is odd, because they're both made by Hershey's. Why would they bootleg their own candy bar?"

• "Whatchamacallit is much drier and denser than Thingawhatever. Thingamajig melts in your mouth—and hands."

• "If someone was just looking for chocolate, Thingamajig would be a good pick. It's got better chocolate taste, and the cocoa crispies are a nice surprise. On the other hand, Whatchamacallit has "chocolate," peanut butter, and caramel, so it's got more going on. It's more dense, has a long-lasting chew, and it's a bigger candy bar."

• "Couldn't taste much peanut butter in either bar. Hershey's should bump up the nuts."

• "Whatchamacallit should be called The Everything Bar, because it's got almost everything you want in a candy bar except maybe nougat and a bubblegum center."

• "The peanut butter and caramel taste of the Whatchamacallit just works better than the chocolate crispies in the Thingamajig. Though the Thingamajig is a little softer, so maybe it'll go easier on old people's dentures."

• "Thingamajig was better. It has softer and thicker chocolate around the rim. The Whatchamacallit kind of tastes like you're eating a stale wafer."

Where to buy it: We found the Thingamajig at Walgreen's, and you can find a Whatchamacallit just about anywhere, you turkey.

Bonus round: If you're very brave and not at work, do a Google image search on the word "thingamajig." Check out the very first result. You have been warned. It couldn't be more NSFW.