I've never had the cake and frosting version, but I have a cake pop machine and have been told by everyone that they're awesome and taste like the handmade ones.
I laughed when I saw that you're making these for a work event. The first time I used my cake pop machine (babycakes version), I made them for the folks at dh's office.
I've used the machine many times since (birthday, church bake sale, holidays). I've also used mini-cake molds with cake mix in the oven and turned those into cake pops too, but they're a heck of alot more work than the ones I make with the machine!
My machine pops are always moist and if I get the right amount of mix into the wells, turn out perfect. The key is to get the exact amount needed in each well, otherwise you get half-moons if you don't use enough batter, or little Saturns if it's too much batter. The good thing with Saturns is you can shave off the rings and they look pretty perfect.
If you want to mold pops into something other than spheres, you can do so by hand and/or with a cookie cutter or mold while they are still warm. It's tricky...but can be done. The machine I have comes with an injector so you can fill them. You can also use the machine to make non-cake hors'd ovres and mini snacks.
The trick to keeping cake pops from slipping down the stick is to first dip the stick in the melted candy or chocolate, then insert into the cake and chill immediately. The melted candy/chocolate hardens inside and prevents slipping. After they are completely chilled, you can decorate them with no trouble. I think this method works with handmade pops too.
For decorating, I've used almond bark, pure cocao melted, melted peanut butter, caramel, you name it. Frosting, marzapan, etc. Sprinkles add pizazz and are a great way to hide flaws if you're just starting out and making mistakes. You don'thave to use cake mix only with this either. At our house brownie pops are top pick, next to red velvet with cream cheese filling.
I love this machine! It is so easy and fast! Even very young kids can easily use it with supervision. It's a nice thing to have if you're into making really creative and cute treats with little hassle. It's well worth the money if you're into baking alot. I got mine at Kohl's. When they go on sale there, they've had the best price around...as low as $20....otherwise they tend to run about $40.
Some people say these are too rich of a dessert. Maybe so, if one eats too many of them. But I find most people like these because the serving size is very small! One pop is less cake than a regular slice of cake. So not really that heavy if you temper what you eat. This makes this a nice alternative to cake at birthdays if you don't want kids getting hyped up on too much sugar. A pop is small and fun but tempers the over abundance of too much fructose nicely.