Everyone had a routine on Halloween when they were kids. Whether it was hitting as many houses as possible, strategically picking the ones known for giving the most candy, or just staying home, it’s hard not to have fond memories of October 31. But when the end of the night came, what candy were you most excited to devour? Our staff has some thoughts.
Hershey’s Special Dark Miniatures
Michael Baumann: My parents, God bless them, always tried to make sure I ate right when I was a little kid, going so far as to hide peas in my mashed potatoes once. (A betrayal I feel viscerally to this day.) This also meant that Halloween and Easter were really the only two times I got to eat candy in any quantity, so I had to make it count.
Snickers are peanuts hidden in chocolate and caramel — peas in the mashed potatoes. Almond Joys are like hiding rocks and fiberglass insulation in mashed potatoes. I went for 3 Musketeers (famously big on chocolate) or Milky Way and tended to avoid nuts (which are really just vegetables when you think about it). Maximum chocolate-to-bullshit ratio.
Well, nothing has more chocolate and less bullshit on the trick-or-treat circuit than Hershey’s Special Dark miniatures. 100 percent cheek-puckering deliciousness, zero percent filler.
Alyssa Bereznak: I was the kind of trick-or-treater who sorted my loot into separate piles at the end of every Halloween, and then ranked each one from least to most delicious. At the bottom of the list were the homemade snacks we assumed contained razor blades and a collection of flimsy chocolate bars (Almond Joys, Krackels, Crunch bars, Kit Kats). At the top was always the cold-hard potent shit: SweetTarts, Fun Dip, Shockers, Sour Patch Kids, Pixy Stix, and the prize of all prizes: Nerds. If most artificially flavored candy is made of the same stuff — sugar, chemicals, and the bodies of misbehaving children who visit the Willy Wonka factory — Nerds delivers those ingredients in the most delightful form. The Nerds box made a charming sound when you shook it, its two-flavor format brought a varied sophistication to the dining experience, and they were small enough that you could chew them without breaking your teeth. And like all successful candies, Nerds even had their own slightly less successful spin-off (Nerds Rope).
Rubie Edmondson: I hereby declare Kit Kats to be Halloween’s most underrated candy. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride — most people like Kit Kats, but few want to marry themselves to these crunchy, chocolate-coated wafers forever. Sure, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are objectively better (it’s hard to argue against chocolate + peanut butter), but Kit Kats are my favorite Halloween candy because they’re both delicious and inoffensive. I’m convinced that the wafer portion is mostly air, since I can house 10 mini Kit Kats without feeling any adverse effects. And if you’re not into scarfing all of your Halloween candy at once (… who are you?), the equal portions make a perfect treat for two. As Peggy Olson would say: “Take it, break it, share it, love it.”
Justin Charity: In the continental U.S., coconut is a wildly underutilized and underappreciated staple, both in sweet and savory forms. Europe makes great macaroons, Southeast Asia has mastered coconut rice, and Puerto Ricans invented the piña colada. Meanwhile, the worthiest innovation in coconut consumption that we’ve patented stateside is Mounds and Almond Joy. It’s understandable given our climate, which is hostile to coconut growth. This land is cursed. Happy Halloween!
Mallory Rubin: We all have our personal smell tests, our methods for determining friend from foe. Mine is a question: “Do you prefer Almond Joy or Mounds?” If someone chooses the latter, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit. If someone chooses the former, I know to run. Mounds are chocolaty, coconuty perfection, sweet and sticky, balanced and rich. They’re a bite-size reminder that simplicity can be a gift, that pleasure can be pure. Almond Joy? They’re an abomination. If someone gifted you a shiny new car, would you top it with a bobble? (Lyft drivers need not reply.) If someone served you a silky, seared steak, would you stick a potato right on top? No, because you’re not a fucking animal. And yet, a wide swath of the population is content, even thrilled, to welcome a frivolous embellishment into its mouth. When it comes to candy, an almond isn’t a treat. It’s an intruder. Give me Mounds or give me death. (Or Skor bars, those are good too.)
Haley O’Shaughnessy: You can’t be dreaming of luxuries like Dove chocolate or Toblerone in the minivan backseat while your dad drives you to Jessica’s neighborhood even though she swears someone gave out something as good as Chuao (Chuao!) last year. That’s bullshit and Jessica’s lying. No store sells bags of mini Chuao.
Scratch chocolate altogether. You’re aiming for the top of the average tier of candy. Candy that you won’t get sick of after eating three (Hershey’s Kisses). Candy that won’t remain in the bottom of your plastic pumpkin until your mom throws it out at Easter (Whoppers). Candy that won’t impale your throat and kill you (Jolly Ranchers). Don’t reach for the moon here, because if you miss, you won’t be among the stars, you’ll be surrounded by shitty SweetTarts. There’s only ever been one answer, and I hired Marshawn Lynch to show you.
Claire McNear: Tragically, this nation’s two best candies (Sour Punch Straws and Caramellos) do not come in fun-size varietals, so we’re left with the things that do. Root Beer Barrels? Too one-note. Pop Rocks? Too likely to be folded up and handled by your weird neighbor. Instead, I offer a dark horse: Zotz. They’re sweet. They’re sour. They come in bulk. They appear at literally no other time of the year. They have multiple flavors, and tell you (warn you) what those flavors are. They are hard candies — but also not. They are refreshing. They are delicious. And they are, unlike Reese’s no. 334 or yet another Starburst two-pack (two yellows again! What a surprise!), genuinely exciting to find inside your pumpkin basket.
Gummy Bears … or Peanut Butter M&Ms
Molly McHugh: The best candy is (are?) Gummi Bears. Not the Black Forest kind, the Haribo kind. They are not an ideal Halloween candy, though, because they’re hard to find in fun-size bags and single Gummi Bears are going to look like poison to parents and get completely smashed by the end of the night. My runner-up, then, is Peanut Butter M&Ms — a delicious twist on tradition!
Tate Frazier: M&M’s are basic. Steven Spielberg proved this in 1982 while filming E.T. What candy did the auteur choose? Yes, Reese’s Pieces. It’s what you should choose if you would like to please all of the trick-or-treaters who are tired of the same played-out candies. ’80s back.
Sour Patch Kids
Nicole Bae: As a kid who has never had a Hostess product (I still haven’t) and whose packed snacks consisted of Tropicana orange juice and string cheese, Halloween meant collecting superartificial, sour candy to ration out for the next few days. This actually meant going to a house on my block whose sweet, sweet owners doled out full-size bags of Sour Patch Kids every Halloween. Also, I eat every flavor of Sour Patch Kids, which I don’t do for other similar fruit-flavored candy. (I’m not sold on the blue raspberry flavor, but I’ll still eat it.)
Caitlin Blosser: When you’re a kid, Halloween is the perfect night. You get to dress up as anything you want and go from house to house getting free candy. Aside from trying to amass more candy than all of your friends combined, there’s always a special kind of candy you cherish more than all the others. There are the Starbursts and Skittles and Snickers and Reese’s Cups. For me, it was always Heath Bars. Nothing is better than the chocolate-toffee combination. Honestly, I could have just had a pillowcase (my candy “bag”) full of Heath Bars and been perfectly content.
Amanda Dobbins: I’ve never really identified with George before, but:
Also: A fun-size Twix bar is larger than pretty much any other fun-size candy bar. As a “women in business” mentor once taught me, you only get what you ask for in life. So: Ask for the biggest candy.