Holiday Wars premiere review: Holiday mayhem has arrived


Holiday mayhem has arrived on Food Network with the Holiday Wars premiere. Can these teams of bakers and sugar artists create a winter wonderland?

Holiday Wars premiere on the Food Network took aspects of the fan favorite Halloween Wars and created a living snow globe of sweet treats. Did these holiday displays earn the teams a place on Santa’s nice list?

Over the years, the Food Network competitions hosted by Jonathan Bennett have had numerous loyal fans. People love to see how bakers and sugar artists can create these intricate, almost life like holiday displays out of edible elements. While there might not be pumpkins in these displays, the winter wonderland is definitely a sweet vision.

Similar to other “Wars” competitions, each episode is broken into two challenges, the smaller Snowball Fight and the larger Winter Blizzard round. The winner of the Snowball Fight receives an extra helper for the second round.

In the Snowball Fight, the teams had to create their take on a replacement reindeer. From flying gingerbread men to Santa with a jet pack, the ideas seemed like a holiday fantasy. What everyone didn’t know is that llamas are the new holiday tradition. With two teams having a llama-filled holiday, only one could be llama-winner.

Looking at the designs, the teams really seemed to push hard on the first challenge. While there were a few mis-steps, the designs were quite impressive. It seems like these teams really wanted to set a tone in the first challenge.

Still, only one team could earn the first challenge win. The Ginger Snappers and their llama earned the win.

Team Ginger Snappers works to create a jetpack powered lama during the “Reindeer Replacement” of the first Snowball Fight Challenge, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network

This display earned the judges’ praise because had the best overall scene. From hiding the fondant seams to the expression on the llama, this team really nailed the challenge.

After the first challenge, Holiday Wars seems to demand more precision than  Halloween Wars. With just cake and sugar artists, the judges (Jason Smith and Shimmin Li) are expecting more details. Given there are four team members (and an assistant on the bigger challenge), these teams have no excuses to have a holiday display fail.

Going into the Winter Blizzard Round, the teams have an interesting theme to explore. The holiday display needs to express naughty children stealing Santa’s naughty list. The theme is rather broad. While the teams had some great displays, it was a little curious that no one really tried a truly outrageous scene.

In addition to the cake and sugar holiday display, the teams had to create a tasting element. Sometimes that tasting element is the difference between staying and elimination. This episode’s tasting element was a candy cane. This concept is not an easy one.

The team with the best tasting element was clearly Ginger Snappers. After a successful Snowball fight display, this chocolate bourbon mint candy cane shaped treat was a huge hit. It was like a candy mint julep.

Also, their display was quite good. This team excels with expressions on its characters. Plus, they had many beautiful sugar elements.

Winning the first Winter Blizzard Round on Holiday Wars was Peppermint Posse. Even with their recovery of the candy cane ladder, the team excelled in this challenge. Although their tasting element flavor was a miss, the shortbread cookie was good.

The amount of detail in the whole display was impressive. They thought about every element in this display. It was quite a statement in the first episode.

Although their snowman was facing the wrong way (no one wants to just see a snowman butt), the Candy Striper’s scene was a wintry delight. The sugar work was impeccable.

More importantly, their sugar candy cane with a raspberry jam center was insane. The difficulty in executing this tasting element was over the top.

Unfortunately, two teams in the bottom. Both the Bah Humbakers and the Sugar Sleighers had a few too many mistakes.

The Bah Humbakers had a miss with their tasting element. While this candy cane was supposed to have passionfruit, the judges only tasted white chocolate and coconut.

Additionally, the display had good and bad elements. The biggest problem was that the display didn’t look like one cohesive piece. Each character looked disconnected from the other ones.

Sugar Sleighers had issues with their scene. The characters were very static, which is never a good choice in this type of Food Network competition.

More importantly, their tasting element was not a candy cane. While the raspberry truffle inside the cake pop was nice, the dessert didn’t meet the challenge.

The first team eliminated in Holiday Wars was the Sugar Sleighers. Since they didn’t correctly complete the tasting element, it made sense that they were the first team to go.

Based on the first elimination, the teams better pay attention to the tasting element. If they don’t follow the rules, their time in Holiday Wars might be over.

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What did you think of the Holiday Wars premiere episode? Which holiday display was your favorite?