Nostalgic for Kudos? Here's a copycat version of your long-gone lunchbox favorite

I don't think it's just my own wistfulness that makes these recreations so darn good

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published July 17, 2022 5:49PM (EDT)

Pseudo Kudos Bar (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Pseudo Kudos Bar (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

You don’t need an expensive new piece of equipment, or an obscure ingredient you have to hunt for. You just need a fresh way of preparing an old favorite. In "One Way," we’ll revisit classic ingredients and dishes, giving them a new twist with an easy technique you haven’t tried before.

There's an old commercial that used to make me cry. A little boy loses his toy boat while playing in the sands of Cape Cod. Decades later, he discovers it on eBay, and his face washes over in emotion. "What if nothing was ever forgotten?" the voiceover asks. "What if nothing was ever lost?"

The things that tie us to our small, innocent selves are truly never forgotten — but they do get lost. After all, even if you could find the old, metal-lidded pudding packs of your youth on eBay, what would you do with them? Lost toys can be found. Lost flavors are harder to come by.

If you Google the phrase "Kudos recipe," you'll get 7,400,000 results. I've perused at least half of them. Like pretty much every American over the age of 30, my nostalgia for the discontinued granola bars of yesteryear is profound.

My first love, however, was the Kudos predecessor known as the Carnation Breakfast Bar. Phased out in the early '90s after a respectable 20-year run, the Carnation Breakfast Bar wasn't in the least bit chewy. It wasn't crunchy either, which distinguishes it to this day from the two dominant types of snack bars on the market. Rather, it was a nutty, oaty, perfectly crispy thing. Think Kit Kat, but cereal.

I can't express my feelings for it any better than writer Todd Leopold, who lamented for My Recipes back in 2018 that "I miss them to my core, and I am not alone in this." I recently attempted a knockoff recipe, and while it was quite good in its own right, it didn't strike that Proustian chord of recognition in my heart.

But Kudos, I'm happy to report, aren't too difficult to recreate. First released in 1986, Kudos were basically candy bars that you could convince your parents (or yourself) were a "healthier" choice to carry around than an actual Snickers. They were officially discontinued in 2017 — just long enough ago to create a real pang when you think about them. There's still a hole in the bottom of my purse where at least one emergency bar used to rattle around.

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I don't think it's just my own wistfulness that makes these recreations so darn good. The texture is delightful, and the alchemy of peanut butter and M&Ms is tough to beat. A homemade version, of course, lacks the convenience or flash of a lunchbox treat. It does, however, come pleasingly close in the flavor department.

To maximize the peanut butter filling and chocolate base effect, I've cobbled this recipe together from two different sources, along with Chrissy Teigen's chocolate shell technique. Untraditionally, these bars have dark chocolate and big, regular-sized M&Ms because you file taxes now — and I think you deserve it.

See? There are, in fact, some advantages to growing up.


Inspired by Oh Sweet Basil and Salt N Sprinkles

Copycat Peanut Butter M&M Kudos
6-8 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Chill Time
1 hour


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (or honey) 
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter 
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil 
  • Pinch of sea salt



  1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and peanut butter until everything is smooth and well combined.

  3. Stir in the Rice Krispies and oats until everything is combined.

  4. Add the chocolate, oil and salt to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to melt. Stir well.

  5. Coat the bottom of the loaf pan with the chocolate mixture, reserving about 2 tablespoons for later. Spoon the Rice Krispies and oats mixture on top and firmly pack it down. Top with the M&M's, pressing them into the mixture.

  6. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from the pan, then drizzle the rest of the chocolate over the top. Slice into bars and enjoy while watching reruns of "Friends."

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Chocolate Copycat Food Granola Bars Kudos One Way Peanut Butter Recipe Snacks