Hey Kids! Candy!
Let’s talk candy! It’s that time of year again where we dress up our children and send them up and down the streets begging for sweet treats! Huzzah! Halloween is one of those holidays thats scope and ridiculousness make it hard to beat. It’s cosplay for can-day; generations before cosplay was cool. It’s fun for wee little ones, mischievous teens, and adults who only get out a few times a year! The guys were planning on an X-Men theme for the big Halloween party. I wanna be a sexy potato this year instead, maybe. But we’re not here for costume ideas, Mr. Crazy Pickle Mustache, who just so happens to have a pickle for a mustache–we’re here to talk about the spoils, the haul, the best Halloween candies!
My Stratospheric chums have already played their hands, although Stew and Andy both ventured down different paths. My list in particular, focuses more on the Halloween aspect than the candy aspect, because we have easter to talk about candy that comes in egg form, Stew! Easter is it’s own beast-er, for sure! This is Halloween, Halloween!
Now, I recognize my limitations. I’m probably not the most seasoned candy expert here. I mean, I like candy, I’m not a monster. I’m also not hip. I’m set in my ways at this point, and they’re highly subjective. I like weird stuff like Raisinettes. Nobody’s gonna vote for a list with Raisinettes on it. Also, I rarely approach strangers for candy at this point. So when it came to giving out advice on the best Halloween candy, I turned to the real experts–kids. They’re constantly begging each other and everyone else for candy!
I surveyed actual kids to help me develop my list, asking small groups to help rank their top 5 favorite Halloween hauls. After multiple surveyed groups, patterns emerged. I took their results, counted and tallied and counted again and used their group-think to help tabulate the list. So if you disagree with my list, know it’s not me, you’re disagreeing with, it’s science. And the children. And now I’m on the hook to buy a lot of candy!
There are some surprises here to be sure.
First, the honorable mentions:
Juice Boxes turned up on multiple lists. Not Huggies mind you, which are disgusting. Everybody knows that. Juice Boxes, though. I never considered it but it’s brilliant. It’s so simple. So handy. You’re out trick or treating, and what do you need in that moment? A bit of boxed refreshment, and thanks to that one neighbor who thought ahead and handed you an all-natural apple juice that may or may not still have that straw stuck to the back, you can be refreshed. Ahhhh!
Unless you lose that straw. Then it goes from Ahhhh to Arrrrrgh! You might as well just throw the whole thing out at that point!
Next, the great Snickers Bar shocker! I thought for sure Snickers would be a front-runner for the tops of the charts. Instead, it did not garner enough votes to qualify. You might think Snickers really satisfies. Perhaps you think you’re not you when you’re hungry and you might be Roseanne Barr at that moment. You might want to reach for a Snickers. You’re alone on an island, oldie. Kids hate Snickers! I blame it on the Fun Sized bars. Those are no fun for anyone. Snickers didn’t even beat out the lowly Milky Way Bars, which also didn’t crack the top 10!
Gummy Bears/Worms/Spiders/Eyeballs–That gummy stuff is just spread out over too many categories at this point, and even then, they weren’t nearly as popular as I would have anticipated. I’m a fan of the all natural ones, but I can’t help but wonder if the gummy reputation was damaged either due to the sugar free gummy disasters (google it!) or the fancy pants high-end gummy bears with flavors like grapefuit or olive or whatever. Or the stuff with vitamins or CBD mixed in. Kids don’t want to be tricked into taking medicines or things that were drugs a few years ago. Worse yet, kids don’t want to be tricked into eating grapefruits! Quit tricking us, Gummy Bears!
Heath Bars–This one would be my addition. I’m old and I like toffee. The kids didn’t even mention Heath bars or any other toffee based candies. Ever.
Tiny Bag o’ Chips or Pretzels: Ok, I get that it’s not technically a candy per se, but the bagged salty snack is a great way to break up the monotony of chocolate that ends up dominating the rest of the Halloween haul. That’s not to say that chocolate is a bad thing, but it’s nice to have the salty change of pace. I just didn’t want the list to turn into another Ho-ho debacle.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what actually made the cut, so let’s get this started. I went to the local Wallymart to make sure all of these are easily and readily available right now, barring any local stock issues.
10) Butterfingers: This is something that I thought would rank higher, yet it barely made the cut over pretenders like Skittles.
It’s a DQ Blizzard staple, and Bart Simpson advertising helped to make this candy bar one of the more popular options when I was growing up. Today, kids could take or leave your Butterfingers. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. They don’t even sell a big bag of just Butterfingers! A source told me they changed the recipe and angered their fans. All I know for sure is they’ve been downgraded to ‘Crunch Bar just hanging on for nostalgia’s sake’ status.
9) Ramen Noodles: I’m using this as the catch-all for an idea that came up in multiple groups. This is the last minute substitute from the house or apartment that ran out of candy and is just giving out random stuff.
They either don’t have enough sense to stop answering the door, or they just enjoy the chaos of it. Packs of Ramen, cans of soup, or whatever random-this-isn’t-really-intended-for-Halloween-but-it’s-harmless treat seems to really brighten the kids’ days. Kids enjoy random non-sequiturs, so Ramen Noodles makes the list! It makes more sense than Andy’s peppermints!
8) Starburst: I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘burst, personally, but the kids really seem to enjoy them. My kiddo goes ga-ga over the lemon ones. He calls them lemon, but to me, they’re just the yellows. They taste just like the pinks and oranges.
I’ll take the Starbursts over Skittles, which almost made the cut, but I would never mistake either of them for the flavors they pretend they represent.
7) Sour Patch Kids: Sour Patch Kids beat out Warheads by a handful of votes as the kids’ favorite of the sour candies, and I think I’m ok with that.
They’re both delightful. They’re both candies that every generation has that one friend who ate too many and got sick or ulcers or some other horrific fate. But they’re sweet. They’re sour. SPK win because they’re not overpowering, yet they still have that zing that makes them a little bit dangerous.
The only downside: I didn’t see the individual packs for trick or treaters. Maybe these are just for the house.
6) Hershey’s Bars: This one surprised me, not because Hershey’s doesn’t make a darn fine chocolate bar, but because the kids enjoyed them so much. Hershey bars aren’t hip or dangerous. There’s something to be said for the simple elegance of milk chocolate consistently done well, and that’s where Hershey’s lives. Also they live in Hershey, PA, which is surprisingly fun to visit.
Mentions were made of variations like the Cookies and Creme or Hershey’s Bar with Almonds–they’re good, too. The regular version is a timeless classic, that surprisingly, even kids can appreciate.
5) Jolly Ranchers: Jolly Ranchers come in a variety of forms. There are the individual rectangle things, the lollipops, the flat, longer stix–and then you get to the crazy variations that I’m less of a fan of like the chewy or gooey or whatever.
The further away you get from see-through brightly colored candy the worse they become. At their purest forms, though, Jolly Ranchers are the best pure candied sugar product out there. Each flavor is distinct. Everyone has their own favorites (I go for Lemon, Watermelon, or Apple), but even the worst ones aren’t that bad. If I have to eat a grape Jolly Rancher, I will still do so gladly.
4) Full-Sized Candy Bars! Any Full-Sized Bar! This is significant enough to merit its own category, despite its all encompassing nature. Kids plot, scheme, and dream dreams of finding that street where multiple houses give out full-sized candy bars.
It doesn’t even matter what kind of full-sized candy. A full-sized candy bar has value. It has merit. It could be meant to be sold separately. Full-sized candy bars are the gold standard against which all other Halloween candy is measured. Sure, whoever gets the most candy might think they’ve bested their chums at Trick or Treating, but we all know it’s whoever walks away with the most full-sized candy bars that truly has won the day.
3) Kit-Kat Bars: Give me a break with that Kit Kat Bar! I might be alone on an island in this, but I feel like the Kit Kat Bar is the one candy bar that translates better to the smaller sized versions.
The light Kit-Kat wafers are almost meant to be enjoyed in one or two bites, as the chocolate coating will start to stick to your fingers if you take much longer than that. They’re airy yet expansive, and you can just as easily enjoy one as you could several at one sitting.
2) Twix: Unlike its Kit-Kat counterpart, Twix bars are not better in their smaller versions. You still have to eat at least two (or more) of these at a go to truly have that Twixy time.
It’s just that Twix bars are simply better. You have the cookie, the caramel, the chocolate…it’s the perfect candy bar alchemy. There’s no catchy theme song. There’s just candy bar excellence.
1) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: Try them fresh or frozen. Heck, even peel the paper directly into your face when they’re a little melty. It doesn’t matter. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best for any occasion. They’re The Rock of candy bars. They always bring their A game. They always steal the show. Even the individual sized Peanut Butter Cups are similar in stature to the regular sized versions. You just need to get two of them. it’s like the folks at Reese’s recognized that they can’t give you the whole experience, but they’re not going to short ya. They care about their customers. You’d think the folks at Twix might take a note. You’re not getting one full-sized Twix bar out of two for your Halloween experience; no way, no how. You might get a quarter of the regular Twix experience if you’re lucky. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the candy of the people.
Even the variations, the big cups, the ones with Reese’s Pieces (a candy that would have made my own list), the crazy white chocolate versions–they’re all good. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups almost have the same elegant simplicity of the Hershey’s Bar, but this time, there are two ingredients that go together like chocolate and peanut butter because they are chocolate and peanut butter. This is a great choice. I like it when I agree with science.
In closing, there was a lot to take from this experiment. It was heavy with chocolate in the top spots, the middle was dominated by fruity stuff, and kids demonstrated they enjoy both random chaos and simplistic elegance. I was very much so surprised to see stalwarts like the Milky Way and Snickers Bars not get enough votes to qualify. I knew some of my favorites like Heath Bars or Paydays wouldn’t make the cut, but I was glad to see Jolly Ranchers do so well. In fact, outside of maybe the rando Ramen, there’s not a candy here I wouldn’t mind stuffing into my pockets and trying to sneak into theaters with well into December. Plus, you don’t have to search high and low, just maybe two or three aisles of a corporate megastore to find them all.
Until next time, I’ll see you … also sneaking leftover Halloween candy into the movies! Does anybody have an extra juice box? I lost my straw!