Bryce’s Top Ten Halloween Candies

In my interweb surfing this morning, I came across FiveThirtyEight’s new analysis of the best Halloween candy. It’s quite exhaustive, and it goes over just about every candy bar you can think of. (Though there are some holes. No Heath Bar ranking, for example. Not that I like them, but they’re definitely a thing, and so they deserve to be on there.) It got me thinking, though. (More than “How many different ways can Reese’s be on a single list?”) What are my favorite candy selections? What items would I want to see the most in my trick or treat bucket?

I don’t eat much candy anymore, but I still go through the candy my kids haul in each year, and we always start off by sorting them out into piles. Keep. Don’t care. Maybe. (I’m a librarian. We categorize things.) It’s always intriguing to me to see how some kids value different candy differently. MC is always a fan of lollipops. I would rather eat broccoli than a lollipop. (Though I like broccoli, so I guess that’s not saying that much.)

When I was growing up, Halloween candy was always sacrosanct. Whatever you got trick or treating was yours and yours alone. And you had to nurse that supply for as far as it would go. That meant that you held on to every piece, even the stupid flavored wax lips. And you tried it all, getting as much enjoyment out of that supply as possible. Every gram counted. But when you spread it all out to evaluate your haul, there were definitely candies you wanted to see more than others.

What would be my top, if I were trick or treating today? To limit things, I’m going to use only the candy that’s on the list I linked to. A few notes, going into it. First, candy corn. I love me some candy corn, but candy corn as a trick or treating candy is just a big no no. I like to know where my candy corn’s been before I put it in my mouth. Eating stray candy corn from a stranger is like eating jello that fell to the floor. The five second rule doesn’t apply.

Second, Milk Duds and Rolos are really the same thing. (Same as M&M Peanut Butter and Reese’s Pieces.) And Milk Duds are good for movie viewing, but not for your casual candy munching experience. (I like them for movies because they have good endurance. You don’t just want to throw a whole handful of Milk Duds in your mouth at once. Not if you value your jaw.)

Third, honorable mentions. These are candy that I wouldn’t be sad to see, but they couldn’t crack the top ten. Everything else on that list? Pretty much dead to me. I mean, I’d eat it if I was starving, maybe. But I don’t think I’d waste the calories on them otherwise. Except for Good & Plenty. That stuff is rank. Anyway. Honorable mentions:

  • Pixy Stix–There was a kid in grade school who said he snorted Pixy Stix, and I believed him. (You probably would have too, if you’d met him.) I like Pixy Stix, but they’re candy that’s pretty much given up all pretense of being anything other than sugar. You have to admire the marketers and makers of Pixy Stix, though. “Why spend all this money on a recipe when we can just add a bit of flavoring to sugar and sell it like that?” It just might be the quintessential American candy. (And you can snort it, apparently.)
  • Pop Rocks–If this were just about mouth sensation, Pop Rocks would win easily. So fun. But . . . taste? No. Just . . . no.
  • Dots–Bonus points for squishiness. I know some people dislike Dots, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Except they stick to my teeth too much for them to really soar.
  • Gobstoppers–Big on staying power, and I don’t mind the taste, but they’re too much like regular hard candy. Too generic.
  • Whoppers–I like how the melt. And they’re tasty, but . . . not top ten worthy. Sorry.
  • Nerds–These might have made the top 10, depending on the flavor, but they’re such a pain to eat, and there’s a significant chance of them spilling all over the place at any point in time. Candy shouldn’t make you work so hard to eat it. And some of those flavors are just too tart.
  • Baby Ruth–It’s a candy bar, so points for that. But it’s not a great candy bar. E for effort, though.
  • M&Ms–And all their variants. Too basic, but they’re yummy. Especially peanut M&Ms. But . . . there’s no “there” there. It’s a simple concept, and it doesn’t do anything to really take that concept to the next level, unless that next level is “What other flavors can we put in here? Mint? Peanut butter?” It’s trying to be too many things to too many people. Pick something, M&Ms.

With that out of the way, here we are. The definitive top ten list of candy for me:

10–Smarties: You get one single piece of candy, but it’s actually like 20 pieces of candy. Seriously. Each pack of Smarties is like a Biblical miracle in your pocket. The pieces are jam packed with flavor, and you get to brag to people about how smart you are whenever you eat them. That’s a Halloween candy that’s punching way above its weight class.

9–Kit Kat: Also a “two pieces in one” candy selection. (Except some of the producers have caught wise to this and started to sell single barred Kit Kats. What’s up with that? How are you supposed to break anyone a piece of a single bar? What are we. Socialists now?) I like the cookieness of the treat, but that same cookieness brings it down some in the rankings, because this is about the best candy. Not the best cookie. Kit Kats need to decide what they are. I don’t feel like eating something that’s having an identity crisis.

8–Hershey Special Dark: I love dark chocolate. Hershey’s isn’t great dark chocolate, but it is dark chocolate. But in the end, it’s also just a single note on the candy scale. It plays that note just fine, but to really soar at Halloween, you need the full range of keys.

7–3 Musketeers: It’s velvety smoothness is downright admirable. Different layers of chocolate are great, but what’s it got beyond that? Plus, this is one of Denisa’s favorites, so I’ve trained myself to build more of an immunity to their allure over the years. Also, see the note for the next bar.

6–Snickers: If this were a full Snickers bar, we might be cracking the top 5. It’s filling, tasty, and has a compelling mixture of flavors and textures. But these days, the Snickers you get at Halloween are like a fifth of a bite. They call them bite sized, sure. If you put five together, maybe. Candy companies have got to stop being so stingy. Everything else in America is all about bigger portions. When did we start scrimping with candy?

5–Milky Way Midnight (and Milky Way regular, I suppose): Midnight is my favorite Milk Way strain, because dark chocolate, and true, this suffers from the same bite portion restraint as the last two candidates, but come on. Milky Way Midnights are just play awesome. If only these were bigger, they’d be fighting for the top spots.

4–Junior Mints: Give me a full box of Junior Mints, and we’d be cooking with gas. (Well, not really. We’d actually just be eating a full box of awesome. Scratch that. *I* would be eating a full box of awesome. You’d be eating nothing, because you were foolish enough to give me the box. That’s a rookie mistake.) But at Halloween, the Junior Mint boxes have all of 4 or 5 mints in them. It’s a travesty, but one we accept in the 4th position, because Junior Mints are incredible.

3–Almond Joys (and Mounds, if you have to): Coconut. Almond. Chocolate. It’s a powerful combination, and they’ve based entire desserts around them. Really, the only drawback to an Almond Joy is the bits of stray coconut you find wandering around in your mouth a half hour after you ate one. Coconut is great at the time, but half hour old coconut that gets mixed in with your dinner later on? (Because of course you snuck in an extra Almond Joy before dinner.) That’s a no no.

2–Butterfingers: Delish. Bigger sizes than the other chocolate bar treats on the list, as well. Peanut butter and chocolate, but in an aggressive way that says “You gonna eat me? Fine. But you’re gonna have to commit to chomping down on me for the next while. I ain’t going down without a fight.” You have to respect a candy with that sort of resolve. Peanut butter and chocolate are pretty much the perfect combination. (And Butterfinger ice cream is incredible, so you’ve even got a way to use surplus pieces, should it come to that.) Bravo!

1–Reese’s Anything: Was this ever really a contest? Reeses takes up 4 of the top 8 slots on FiveThirtyEight’s list. Which, true, is a bit of a cop out. They’re a one trick pony that’s come up with four different ways to show that trick. (And they’ve even managed to convince us that one of those ways (the cursed bite size again) is something to flaunt as a whole different offering.) Reese’s Pieces are candy goodness, but the true cream of the crop is the full size Reese’s cup. Sometimes you’ll even get lucky and have people who give you the two-fer packages, which is the ultimate Holy Grail of trick or treating. Peanut butter. Chocolate. Large size. Double portion. The stars align, and heaven smiles upon you. Give me that any day of the week.

And that concludes my list. Care to complain? Beg to differ? Please illuminate me in the many ways you’re wrong. (And Happy Halloween!)

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