In today’s installment of “Steve’s Hare-Brained Food Ranking Ideas“: the best Keebler cookies. Why Keebler cookies? Well, why not? And who the hell are you to question [Steve’s brilliance], anyway? Keebler is a classic American brand, founded in 1853 and widely credited as the first confectioner to fortify their treats with real elf meat.
Kidding, of course. For me, this was just the assignment. As Patrick Henry once said, “I regret that I have but one life to sacrifice for my #content.” It’s not as if I’m on a gluten-free diet, and anyway I doubted I could feel worse than I did after tasting 31 peanut butters. (Spoiler alert: Bad. I felt really, really bad).
There are quite a few Keebler varieties that look suspiciously similar to Girl Scout Cookies, but as it turns out, there’s a good reason for that. A lot of Girl Scout Cookies are made by Little Brownie Bakers, a Keebler subsidiary. That is my “interesting fact of the day” before I take you on this thoroughly un-educational journey.
Hey, did you know British people call cookies “biscuits?” Wild!
A Note On My Method:
I basically only eat cookies dunked in milk or coffee. A cookie that doesn’t dunk is, to me, close to worthless. It’s a dessert cracker. So when I tested these, I tried to give them a shot both as non-dunked cookies, for all the sicko dry guys out there, and also dunked, since that’s how I eat them. I used 2% cow milk, but if you’re a vegan you could use almond or oat milk. It’s probably fine! I don’t know.
For the first few entries, I tested them dunked both in milk and in coffee, to try to get a full picture of each cookie’s true potential. But as it turned out, between taking pictures of each cookie, writing notes after each bite, dunking in milk, and then taking more notes, my coffee kept getting cold. Dunking a cookie in cold coffee didn’t seem like a fair real-world scenario to throw at these cookies (to be fair, I don’t know your life) and it seemed tedious so I ditched it about a quarter of the way through. Apologies to that narrow subset of cookies that are noticeably better when dunked in coffee instead of milk.
I also didn’t taste these “blind,” because… that seemed dumb. These are all Keebler cookies and short of being blindfolded, there’s no great difficulty in being able to tell a fudge wafer from a shortbread cookie. Rather, I think the look of the cookie and the packaging is an important factor in the overall appeal. A cookie’s “curb appeal,” if you will.
On to the rankings.
20. Fudge Stripes Minis S’Mores Dip’ Mmms
In theory, I guess you could make the case that these cookies were made for a dunker like me! But that assumes… well, a lot things, most mostly that I’d want my dunking liquid to be room temperature, shelf-stable, and made out some sort of revolting liquid marshmallow.
It’s like white frosting, only worse!
I wish you could see my face when I opened this. I actually made the cringe face. Pretty much nothing about this is appealing to me.
Just the fact that they’re “minis” means it’s near impossible to dunk without getting marshmallow goo on your fingers. I get that they’re going for a kind of “dessert Handi-Snack” thing with this (Handi-Snacks, now there’s a processed product I actually love) and that I’m almost certainly not the target audience for this, but… yeah.
I’d need to be at least 500% more stoned to enjoy these. I didn’t even bother with the milk dunk test because I wasn’t sure how I’d even accomplish it.
19. Chips Deluxe Double Chocolate Chips
I’m dreading this one before the first bite. They took a bad concept (the M&Ms-in-a-cookie idea) and added even more of their chocolate, which is bad (more on that later), to the cookie body. And then added even more chocolate chips on top of that.
I feel like people who are this into chocolate should just try cocaine. I like chocolate too, but in moderation.
Biting in… it’s pure nasty sweet chocolate. Not quite as rock hard as the regular Chips Deluxe with M&Ms, but also with worse flavor.
Milk Dunk Test: Improved slightly by the milk, but not to a degree that would make it worth buying/eating.
18. Chips Deluxe With M&Ms
Judging just based on looks, again, I’m not convinced that M&Ms are a good thing to put in cookies. They strike me as “what if chocolate chips but harder?” The baking process doesn’t seem to melt the M&Ms, have we considered that it might just temper them?
Like biting into a rock. Jesus, how would you even attempt this without milk?
Milk Test: It’s like a nice chocolate chip cookie when you dunk it, but then the M&Ms are too big for the cookie and don’t soak up the milk. Badly designed cookie, imo.
17. Deluxe Grahams Original
I’m intrigued by the package. I like a graham cracker, and adding chocolate does seem like a good use of chocolate.
The actual cookies are smaller than I expected. I’ve never seen these before. Biting in… Keebler chocolate is just so sweet. I’m not expecting like $18 bittersweet chocolate bar chocolate, I get that these are mass-marketed desserts, but even expecting sweet milk chocolate their chocolate is cloyingly sweet. Blech. The grahams are also softer inside than I imagined. I think these would be better with a much higher graham-to-chocolate ratio.
Milk Dunk Test: Obviously, because of the chocolate coating, you have to take a small bite so that the milk can soak into the inner cookie part. I accept that, but the chocolate melts on my fingers before the graham can soak up much milk.
Coffee Dunk Test: Meh. Too much chocolate on my hands for a replacement-level cookie.
16. Chips Deluxe Original
I assume this is Keebler’s answer to Chips Ahoy. Sure, why not?
Looks like a packaged chocolate chip cookie alright.
Biting in… it’s very crumbly. There’s not much of the buttery vanilla flavor notes that I appreciate in chocolate chip cookies, which is disappointing. Mostly it seems like a vehicle for that bad chocolate.
Milk Dunk Test: Dunking definitely is the way these should be eaten but they still aren’t great.
15. Caramel Nut Dreams (Fudge, Caramel, & Peanuts)
I’ve never heard of this one before but it has by far the best name so far — “Caramel Nut Dreams.” Caramel Nut Dreams is also the name of my sex-positive ska revival band.
Again, cookies are smaller than I would’ve imagined. It’s like a 3/4ths scale Samoa or whatever those are called now. Biting in… It’s weirdly lacking in both crunch and caramel flavor. The peanuts kind of overwhelm the other flavors. It’s not bad, just not nearly as good as I imagined. It may suffer from its own expectations.
Milk Dunk Test: Another one you have to pre-bite before dunking to get it to soak up any milk, and also you get melted chocolate on your fingers. Luckily the dunking accomplishes basically nothing, since there isn’t much cookie in there to soak up milk anyway.
14. Chips Deluxe Coconut
A lot of people aren’t into coconut, but me? I’m a big-time nut daddy. Gimme all those flakes of coc’.
That said, out of the package, there isn’t any visible coconut in the cookie and the chocolate chips don’t look especially like chocolate chips. Biting in… It tastes coconutty. I don’t know if I’m crazy about the coconut/chocolate/sugar cookie combo. It’s either too much or missing something. Like maybe more buttery flavor?
Milk Dunk Test: Milk improves the texture, and texturally it’s a great dunker, but I’m just not into this flavor.
13. E.L. Fudge Elfwich Double Stuffed
This was to my wife what the Pecan Sandies were to me — the first thing she wanted to open. And yes, I secretly judged her for that. I probably wouldn’t buy these — too much of that nasty chocolate in there, so “double stuffed” isn’t nearly the draw here that it usually is.
Biting in… The chocolate isn’t as overwhelming as I thought, it’s just one-note sweet, but the cookie part is really compressed. It’s somehow dense but not very crispy. It’s fine, but not my favorite.
Milk Dunk Test: The dunking greatly improves the cookie texture on these, but that fudge is still in there and it’s pure sweet in that flavorless kind of way.
Coffee Dunk Test: Ah, now I understand why these exist. The bitterness of the coffee is just right for cutting the sweetness of that cloying chocolate, which also melts into the coffee.
12. Whoopsy Fudge Stripes Fully Fudged
Another one that looks like what I could call “kids cookies.” Additional fudge doesn’t really do it for me but to each their own.
“Whoopsy Fudge Stripes Fully Fudged” is a lame name, and way too long. I’m calling these “chocolate buttholes.” Biting in… Nothing but milk chocolate and dense sugar cookie. Sure, it’s fine.
Milk Dunk Test: You have to bite before you dunk, but the interior does absorb a little milk once it’s exposed. But only a little.
Coffee Dunk Test: The coffee dunk is far superior, because you get that coffee-melted chocolate action. But the chocolate itself isn’t that good — just too sweet without much else going on.
11. Grasshopper Mint And Fudge
Lets just say what everyone is already thinking and point out that it’s basically a thin mint.
Biting in… I appreciate the textural contrasts, but I’m really not a mint-in-desserts guy. It just tastes like toothpaste to me.
Milk Dunk Test: You have to pre-bite and get chocolate on your fingers, and even then the milk doesn’t do much to the interior. Still slightly better than plain.
10. Chips Deluxe – Keebler Fudge Dipped Duos
A thin chocolate chip cookie with extra chocolate on the bottom, sure, why not.
Biting in… fine. A little chocolatey for my taste, shockingly.
Milk Dunk Test: Greatly improved by dunking, as is true of virtually all chocolate chip cookies. The cookie soaks up the milk nicely. But for me, the ratio is just way off. Way too much chocolate for such a thin cookie.
9. Sugar Wafers
And now to open these and hope they haven’t turned to fine dust I’ll have to snort…
Biting in… it’s a crispy waffle with frosting in the middle. Not life-changing, but it’s pleasant enough. I like the waffle wafers.
Milk Dunk Test: This is the rare cookie that isn’t really improved by dunking. They get a little too soggy and it ruins the crispiness a bit.
8. Fudge Stripes
My wife and stepson did a number on these before I got the chance to test them, which tells you all you need to know about curb appeal. To me they look… fine.
Crunchy, milk chocolatey, simple but decent. Alone the cookie part would be too dense and compressed, but that with the chocolate makes a pleasant combo.
Milk Dunk Test: Not bad. The chocolate keeps the cookie part from falling apart, which is nice, but there also isn’t much there to soak up the liquid. I would like the version of this that’s twice the size. Is that part of the elf marketing that all the cookies are elf-sized?
Coffee Dunk Test: Eh, a little better. The chocolate melting into the coffee is nice, but the lack of cookie body still hurts it.
7. Vienna Fingers
I’ve never seen these before, but I think I could get down with these. It’s a sandwich cookie. Is it a sandwich? Is it a cookie? It’s both! What fun.
Biting in… sort of like a non-chocolate Oreo without milk, which is definitely not a bad thing. Nice crunchy sweet cookie with a frosting filling. Sweet but not cloyingly so.
Milk Dunk Test: I don’t think they’re quiiiite as good as Oreos with milk, but still decent. I didn’t realize what a nice combination the chocolate cookie body of the Oreo was with milk until now. That being said, sandwich cookies are an excellent format for dunking.
6. Vanilla Wafers
Ever noticed these “Vanilla Wafers” look nothing like the “Sugar Wafers With Vanilla?” One of you is lying to us about what a wafer is.
These are like shortbread cookies — they have like one function and fulfill it well. They’re medium-boring eaten plain (though sort of addictive, like plain tortilla chips), but these are more for putting in crusts or soaking in puddings.
Milk Dunk Test: These taste great dunked. They soak up a lot of liquid, though they aren’t quite as buttery as the shortbread and without the sugar crystals or as much of a salt kick.
Coffee Dunk Test: Solid coffee dunkers, but the major drawback is their size. Hard to get the cookie through the foam on any espresso drink. Goes great with coffee though.
5. Fudge Sticks
Package calls it a “fudge-covered créme wafer,” which sounds all fancy and European for something called a “Fudge Stick.” MMMM FUDGE STICK CRAM IT IN MY CHOCOLATE HOLE. Minus points for the non-resealable packaging.
Opening it up… Look like a sad-ass Kit Kat with no friends. And again, smaller than I would’ve expected. Biting in… tastes like a less crunchy Kit Kat, but with creme in between layers. Size notwithstanding, these are pretty good. I like that waffle-wafer texture.
Milk Dunk Test: These aren’t really dunkers, but I think the creme layers accomplish some of what you want out of dunking.
4. Coconut Dreams
Okay so this one is the Samoa one.
Tastes… very Samoa-like, which is a good thing, because Samoas are easily the best Girl Scout cookie. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big-time coconut head. A huge nut guy.
Milk Dunk Test: Inferior dunkability is the obvious flaw of putting this much caramel and coconut into a cookie, which is otherwise awesome. There just isn’t much to soak up the milk here. And yet… it does help juuuuust a little.
3. Sandies Shortbread Cranberry Almond
I don’t know that I needed cranberries in my Sandies, but… sure.
Biting in… Pretty solid, just like the regular Sandies. Love the buttery flavor. The cranberry isn’t overwhelmingly strong.
Milk Dunk Test: I got a cranberry in this bite, and honestly? Pretty good. Just a great dunking experience all around.
Coffee Dunk Test: Controversial opinion: I think the almond goes with the coffee better than the pecan.
2. Sandies Shortbread Classic
A lot of people don’t dig on shortbread cookies anymore, but they happen to be my jam. They’ve got butter and sugar. Those are the things I want! We don’t need to complicate life with a lot of nut and fruit and bean products.
On their own, they’re nice and buttery with crunch and some sugar crystals. A little dull without something to dunk, admittedly.
Milk Dunk Test: This is where shortbread really shines. It soaks up just enough milk to soften it up without falling apart, and the milk is the perfect complement to the buttery flavor with the just-perceptible crunch of the little sugar granules. I could eat 10 of these with milk.
Coffee Dunk Test: I think I actually prefer the milk dunk to the coffee one on this one (the coffee melts the sugar crystals, maybe?), but it’s still a solid dunker.
1. Shortbread Sandies: Pecan
These were the first cookies I opened out of all of them, so curb appeal on these is obviously high — either because they look so good, a sense memory of mine, or both.
Without milk or coffee they’re just a nice crumbly crunchy sweet buttery shortbread cookie with nuts and sugar crystals. Though if you ask me, eating them undunked kind of defeats the whole purpose.
Milk Dunk Test: Excellent. Buttery, sweet, crunchy, soaks up a lot of milk… not much more I could ask of it, really.
Coffee Dunk Test: I did the coffee dunk first with these and it’s just an excellent dunking experience. The cookies get wet, but are still crumbly without breaking off in the coffee. Nice and buttery, with crunchy sugar crystals and nuts. If I have one criticism it’s that they’re a little salty.
Most of the cookies here I didn’t like were just cookies I probably wouldn’t have bought in the first place. I would never feel betrayed by a s’more cookie because I wouldn’t buy them; I don’t even like s’mores, let alone packaged cookies meant to taste like s’mores. Say what you will about Keebler, they ain’t lying to you.
This is in stark contrast to, say, Trader Joe’s cookies, which in my experience always seem to over-promise and under-deliver. Trader Joe’s cookies are the “chef’s homemade ketchup” of the cookie world. They promise a level of homemadeness and rustic charm, but mostly they’re the same packaged crap, only less refined and with less flashy packaging.
A few of these also don’t fit into an easy ranking. Do I want a plain vanilla wafer? Probably not. But if I want to make a cookie crust for a cheesecake or I need a cookie to put in some banana pudding, you can’t beat them. Anyway, munch responsibly, folks.