It’s important to protect your kids during Halloween. Statistically, one in ten children will look in their Halloween bags and find a piece of fruit or a mini toothbrush. Okay, so that statistic isn’t actually true, as far as we know. We do know that this spooky holiday is one of the perks of having multiple kids. More bags, more candy. Here we present the ultimate power ranking of 25 confections, Halloween candy ranked and evaluated from best to worst.
1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
Is there anything else? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are delicious and popular any time of the year, but they sit on the Halloween candy throne for several reasons. First, as mentioned, they’re objectively good. Yes, objectively. Second, they have that perfect combination of nostalgia and relevance you want in a holiday treat. Third, their packaging is literally a Halloween-perfect orange and yellow wrapper and a crumpled black paper cup.
And the different formats mean there’s something for everyone. The minis are bite-sized, the classics can be eaten like a cookie, and the pumpkin-shaped one is just so darn cute. Did I just wax poetic about a Halloween candy? You better believe it.
When I was a kid, getting a Twix in my Halloween bag was like getting a fancy Cuban cigar or ordering the nice whiskey at a restaurant, today. It felt kind of rare, therefore kind of sophisticated, and it felt like it was the kind of chocolate bar coffee-drinking grown-ups ate. In reality, they were only a smidgen less common than the Snickers of the world, but they taste great even now. By junior high, I’d realized that, though delicious, Twix wasn’t as classy as I thought. I’d graduated into Ferrero Rochers (available at all drug stores and many gas station stops).
When it comes to chocolate bars, Snickers is the standard-bearer. Even if you don’t love Snickers, denying this truth would be like denying that the Submariner is the standard-bearer dive watch. They’re America’s candy bar. In fact, almost 400 million Snickers bars are sold in the US per year. Also, let’s shine a spotlight on its versatility. A frozen snicker is a great snack on a hot day.
4. Sour Patch Kids
Some generations’ sour candy was Warheads, while others had Sweet Tarts. Sour Patch Kids are the universal and timeless sour candies, and they belong to all of us, every generation. It’s the candy that teaches us to love caustic flavors as kids. This is a beneficial taste to have, since it can carry on into healthy grown-up foods, like kefir, fermented vegetables, whiskey sours, gin sours, and other alcohol sours.
Unlike Skittles, which you shouldn’t eat by the handful because the shells explode into glass-like particles that will cut your cheeks, you definitely should eat Nerds by the handful. That’s the fun in them. It’s also fun to just shake the box into your mouth. Having fun is at the heart of the Nerds brand. They were invented by Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory, a sub-brand from Nestle to market the 1971 Gene Wilder film.
These days, Skittles are known just as much for being a Halloween staple, as they are for their irreverent advertising. Everyone knows their slogan, so hey, whatever works. Skittles are actually named after a sports game similar to bowling, only the balls and pins boast rainbow-like colors.
7. Kit Kat
A Kit Kat is an actual sweet sandwich and it has English ancestry. So it’s a wonder that they don’t show up on the menus of more upscale Afternoon Tea establishments. Fortunately for us, they do show up in our kids’ Halloween bags. Kit Kats actually have a huge following in Japan, where they have over 200 variations. Between this emperor-level treatment of Kit Kats and their crazy Hi-Chew flavors, I think you know where your next vacation should be.
8. Crunch Bar
Along with Almond Joys and their coconut, Crunch Bars and their rice content, are one of the few Halloween treats that have “real” food in it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but let’s draw attention to that satisfying crunch of the rice puffs that come with every bite.
I honestly do everything The Simpsons tell me to, and I’m sure that’s why they were selling everything, from t-shirts to mammograms, in the ‘90s. Butterfingers, however, are actually one of the few things I was consuming long before the yellow people sold me on it. It’s literally a flakey peanut butter toffee covered in chocolate.
Rounding out the top ten, I’m of the opinion that all renditions of M&M’s are good. Did you know that in addition to the classics, peanut and plain, there’s also peanut butter, almond, pretzel, and brownie? I also have a theory that the reason they named the iconic cartoon mascots after their colors, Yellow and Red, is because it would be mean to call the Red guy “Plain.” That Green lady M&M wouldn’t give “Plain” the time of day she’d give Red, that’s for sure.
11. Almond Joy
Coconut has since become a pretty standard flavor on our palettes, but there was a time when it was pretty exotic. It’s interesting then, that Almond Joy has always been consistently popular. Of all places, it’s actually the most popular Halloween candy in Connecticut, a state that steams its burgers (PS no disrespect, I actually love the CT steamed burger and CT). You have to give Almond Joy credit for being Halloween’s main coconut representative though.
12. Milky Way
Milky Way ranks higher than the other nougat bar because it jumped on the dark chocolate train before Three Musketeers did. Milky Way Midnight, anyone? Even you MW haters have to admit that there’s something charming about malt flavors. It makes you want to pretend you’re living in that Archie Comics era of America, with soda shoppes, saddle shoes, and sock hops. Just don’t let your parents catch you with that Rock and Roll record.
13. Jolly Ranchers
Hard candy is universally loved by the elderly, but Jolly Ranchers somehow managed to find an audience with the hopscotch and Pokemon demographic. Goes to show that kids love all things colorful and shiny.
14. Hershey’s Kisses
From the recipe to the corresponding variations, Hershey’s Kisses are literally just funny-shaped Hershey Bars. Is that alone enough to rank them three above Hershey Bars, and to even have their own category? Well, yes. The foil wrapping can take them from Halloween to Christmas, so yes.
If you’ve never heard of a Whatchamacallit, you may be wondering why it’s ranking above so many names in Big Candy. It’s because Whatchamacallit is your new favorite candy bar, and you just don’t know it yet. Unless you do know. In which case, you also know that many of us have been missing a key ingredient of life’s happiness. It’s chocolate and peanut butter, similar to our top pick, but with caramel to boot.
16. Haribo Goldbears
Haribo “Goldbears” Gummy Bears remind me of trips to Home Depot with my dad because they were always at the check-out aisle, so it gets extra credit from me because of that. In the late 2010s, Haribo Gummy Bears became so popular in the US that the German company actually set up shop here. Worms would probably be more Halloween-centric though.
17. Hershey Bar
We’ve officially entered the middle-grounders of the list. Sure, the standard Hershey Bar is a take-it-or-leave-it candy, but they’ve had some fun variations over the years. Also, I’ve always had a good time at my local big city’s Hershey’s Chocolate World, usually located in your local big city’s equivalent of Times Square, and I’m not sorry about it.
18. Three Musketeers
Three Musketeers has a reputation. It’s sort of the candy equivalent of the guy who always responds with, “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” It never ranks too high or too low, and you often overlook it at the candy aisle. That being the case, if you like nougat, a Three Musketeers is certainly a more grown-up choice over a Charleston Chew.
Chewy candies. Not exactly gum and not exactly hard candy. Whether you love them or hate them, Starbursts are the king of the tribe. The Japanese equivalent, Hi-Chews, should be mentioned too. With flavors like dragon fruit, yogurt, “banana fiz,” and that Hawaiian fruit called lilikoi, those sons of guns over at the Morinaga candy company are clearly having a blast at work.
20. Hot Tamales
I’m not sure who decided that kids would enjoy a spicy candy, but Hot Tamales are actually the most popular Halloween candy in Arizona and North Dakota. Those cowboy kids are just tougher than the rest of us.
21. Pop Rocks
Remember that urban legend about how if you mix Pop Rocks with soda, your stomach will explode? Ironically, a chemist in the ‘70s was actually trying to make an instant soft drink when he invented Pop Rocks. You might say that he tried to make a trick, but ended up with a treat.
22. Heath Bar
Maybe it’s because I’m just an English school kid at heart, but I’d love to rank the Heath Bar higher. I love toffee and so does the Queen. But in the spirit of Halloween, I concede to the fact it isn’t the most popular or iconic fall confection.
23. Blow Pop
Here’s a fun fact. At one point, Blow Pops were marketed as a healthier candy. Yup. They’re only 60 calories, contain no fat (remember when we thought fat was a bad thing?), and are a great way to keep your mouth distracted from eating other fatty foods. I’m sure dentists didn’t agree though. However, like the last two entries, this guy is definitely in the quintessential retro club.
24. Candy Corn
As ubiquitous as it is controversial, you have to admit: Those 1950s suit guys who decided to hard market an orange corn-based candy around autumn time, they knew what they were doing. It’s like all those DJs in the early aughts who released a song with the word “summer” in the title every year, when May rolled around. The difference between most of those guys and candy corn is that candy corn’s attempt to find a permanent seat in the pop culture lexicon was successful.
When we asked our HQ for their opinions of this tricolor trouble-maker, comments ranged from “actually like them” to “of the devil.” But isn’t that latter opinion pretty Halloween appropriate?
25. Tootsie Rolls
If you start to Google “why are Tootsie Rolls…” autofill will enter “so bad” before it enters “so good.” Regardless, they definitely get points for being nostalgic. They were WWII energy bars, and those of us, of a certain age, remember a cartoon owl debating with a kid about how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
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