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Best Halloween Candy, Ranked

I don’t mean to frighten you, but I recently came across a terrible Halloween candy. It was hanging in the Halloween candy aisle of a local Walgreens and it was called Sour Patch Kids Candy Corn. Until the moment I put a piece into my mouth, I was under the impression that it would be regular Sour Patch Kids in the shape of candy corn. It was not. It was grape- and orange-flavored candy corn, complete with candy corn’s crumbly texture, coated with a dusting of sour powder. Hideous. “BOO!” indeed. Why did they make this? It’s a Halloween mystery, and I am sure that whatever the answer is, it is quite spooky.

I bring up this scary treat because it comes in last on my ranking of “all” (45) of the available Halloween candies, which I will begin now, after a quick note: This post was originally featured at New York Magazine’s the Cut. It is no longer being featured there, so it is now being featured here, instead. Okay, here we go:

45. Sour Patch Kids Candy Corn

Horrific, for the reasons just described.

44. Circus Peanuts

I do hate to disrespect circus peanuts like this. They are so boldly terrible that you have to admire them, and of course we do. Plus they are so cute: intentionally Styrofoam-like both visually and in mouthfeel, a fat little peanut waiting for you in your Halloween tote. Oh, we do love them. However the fact remains that they are terrible.

43. Runts

A taste for banana Runts is the most perverse of all proclivities. Heinous. Do you know they sell bags of just banana Runts? Why? For whom — our most broken? Our most in need of help? It is depraved. Yes, the banana Runt is cute, but it tastes like a madman attempted to make a poison chemical banana, experienced more than a few errors, and decided that, eh, actually this version was good enough even though it ultimately turned out to be not technically poisonous. The rest of the Runts are bad, too (too hard, bad tasting, not even as cute as the banana) but none so bad as the banana. I’m sorry, banana. You are a demon and you’ve brought down the whole gang.

42. Bit-O-Honey

If I want a bit of honey, I’ll have a bit of honey. I don’t need a candy for that.

41. Jawbreaker

I admire the novelty and the beauty of the Jawbreaker. I also admire the band that shares its name. Regardless, a Jawbreaker is not an enjoyable candy; I have to believe this fact is plainly known. It is very hard to eat, particularly if you have TMJ, which some of us do, and what does it taste like? Pretty much nothing.

40. Mr. Goodbar

I have a feeling this is going to be controversial. Mr. Goodbar is a simple candy, peanuts and chocolate. It’s a nice enough combination, if wildly boring. The bar is similar to a Pay Day (peanuts and caramel), which you will find close by — No. 37 on this list, in fact. Am I really saying a Mr. Goodbar is worse than a Pay Day? Well.

I guess so, yes.

39. Good & Plenty

Good & Plenty is a food product for people who believe they deserve punishment for the simple fact of their humanity — this is obvious and I hesitate to even include it on a list of candy. However, out of fairness to those who suffer Good & Plenty regularly, I have included it at No. 39. Please take care of yourselves; have a different candy. You are loved and you are forgiven.

38. Tootsie Rolls

Tootsie Rolls continue to populate children’s Halloween totes due to inertia and nothing else. We have to do our best to stop accepting things as the way they are simply because it’s the way they’ve been. Cut this thinking out of your life whenever you can.

37. PayDay

“Behold, something nutty! Peanut-covered caramel. Caramel wrapped in peanuts. Hold it in your hand and feel the weight of its deliciousness.” That’s the Hershey company description of a PayDay, and I love its writerly flair. However: Peanut and caramel is not enough for a candy bar. PayDay is bad.

36. Mike & Ike

Not the worst but certainly close to it.

35. Mounds

Nobody wants a Mounds.

34. Dots

Dots are cute, they have a cute name, and they have a cute little box with a cute little logo. The box makes a cute little sound when you shake it. But here, and so often in life, looks (and sounds) are deceiving. Dots are bad.

33. Laffy Taffy

“Shake that Laffy Taffy, that Laffy Taffy; shake that Laffy Taffy, that Laffy Taffy.” Did you know D4L put that song out in 2005? We were so young then, and time is moving so fast.

32. Dum Dums

Whenever I would have to go to the bank with my mom as a child, the bank teller would give me a Dum Dum lollipop. It was nice, as running errands with mom — to the bank, to the grocery store — was always so boring that I wanted to die. The Dum Dum provided at least a temporary distraction. But now that I’m a grownup who can buy her own lollipop, the appeal of the Dum Dum has lessened, due to its taste.

31. Baby Ruth

No thanks …

30. Almond Joy

Almond Joy is the same as Mounds, coconut and chocolate, but with an almond on top. Yeah, “thanks.” It is listed higher simply because it has a better name: Almond Joy.

29. Twizzlers

I understand the desire to enjoy a Twizzler. They look fun, they’re unique, and they have a neat name: Twizzlers. However, they feel like wax and taste like plastic. I know these are not novel insights, but Twizzlers remain popular despite these obvious negatives. I see no use in finding new reasons to dislike Twizzlers if Twizzler-likers refuse to pay attention to the negatives plainly laid out before them.

28. Jolly Ranchers

I guess it’s fun to have a taste in your mouth and something to clank against your teeth, but only enough to get you to No. 28 on this list.

27. Cadbury Screme Eggs

I’m not sure if you know these exist. They’re like Cadbury Creme Eggs, except they’re green inside, and they’re not for Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead; they’re for Halloween, when Satan did. Cadbury Creme Eggs are better when you can only make yourself sick on them once a year.

26. Raisinets

I applaud Raisinets for still existing. It’s a very funny treat to give to a kid, in my opinion; only slightly less funny than straight-up raisins. It’s not a bad candy, but it’s not a “good” one, and it is a funny one. Raisinets should be proud for a lot of reasons, including their No. 26 placement on this list.

25. Tootsie Pop

While I regret the amount of time I wasted in my young life trying to find out “how many licks” it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, a non-great lollipop, I must commend the treat for providing a journey.

24. Now and Later

They’re fine.

23. Whoppers

I don’t think many people are excited when they’re given a mini-box of Whoppers. They’re medium-good, and I suppose fine in a pinch, but malted milk is not a big thrill. It’s sort of plain to an extent that makes them seem religious.

22. Krackel

Krackel is nice because you really only ever see it during Halloween, in mini-size. Sweet little Krackel, popping up again to say hello. He’s not a necessary candy – we have the more popular Crunch bar if we desire a crunch – but he is a sweetheart, and I like him.

21. Candy Corn

Candy Corn is very divisive. I like it, but I can understand why one wouldn’t. Regardless, it’s nice when treats are holiday-specific. It’s fun when you can only indulge in something for a limited amount of time. We have too much of everything all of the time now; I commend Candy Corn for its seasonality.

20. Haribo Gold-Bears

If I can be honest with you, I dislike all things Haribo and believe adults who claim otherwise are liars who are desperate to be a part of a group no matter how unremarkable the group’s treats may be. Yes? Of course I don’t mean to be rude, and I never would (!); it just seems that for the Haribo set, “liking Haribo” often replaces — and again, I do not mean this to be rude — “having a personality.” I do understand, though, that many claim to like them, and in deference to those people (I do daily app-based meditation and am trying to radiate love) I have included the bears at No. 20.

19. Butterfinger

Of course, do the Bartman.

18. Warheads

It’s such a pleasure that Warheads have not gone the way of 4Loko. When I was young, I’d eat so many of them in a row that my tongue would get a little burn in the middle, and a quick Google search proves that this is true for many others. Nevertheless, she persisted, “she” meaning the sale of Warheads. They’re not closer to the top only because they’re not as prevalent a Halloween candy as they should be.

17. Junior Mints


16. Nestlé Crunch

Drake being like, nuh-uh: Krackel. Drake being like, yeah: Nestlé Crunch. (Sorry, Krackel — again, I do like you.)

15. Smarties

I’m not sure what the consensus is on Smarties. Do people like them, or no? I think people probably don’t like them because they’re basically chalk, but I kinda like that, and I like their taste, and I particularly like their smoothness when you rub your thumb against their middle. It is not lost on me that a lot of innuendo can be read into entries on this candy list, but please just focus on the candy. Their package is really cute, too. Stop!

14. Nerds

No. 14 is a shout-out to little brothers. Little brothers love Nerds.

13. Hershey’s

I really like how you can sometimes still get the mini-size Hershey’s that come with a paper wrapper over a foil wrapper. It’s sad that the larger Hershey’s have abandoned this style. It’s so nice to unwrap. Maybe the new wrapper is better for the environment, I’m not sure, but I bet that if it’s at all better for the environment that was just a coincidence. Probably it was a profit-margin-based decision. And the person they hired to make them more environmentally friendly is at the head of the meeting saying, “Hey, guys, also it’s better for the environment.” And all of the fat suits laugh and chomp on their cigars. They don’t care.

Speaking of Hershey’s profit margins, when I was a very young kid, after riding the Hershey’s chocolate factory tour ride at Hershey Park, you would get a full-size Hershey bar. Later, as an older kid, they switched to mini-Hershey bars. This is fucked up.

12. Swedish Fish

You know what Swedish Fish are the best? The bigger, single kind that you could get with like five tickets at an arcade. Those were really good. Odd, because the bigger version of the Sour Patch Kid that you could also get with five tickets was less good than a small Sour Patch Kid. Life is funny that way.

11. Three Musketeers

I like these, do you? I don’t like them enough to ever buy a full-size version, but I do like them enough to thoroughly enjoy a little one during Halloween time.

10. Snickers

I don’t like Snickers, but I know people do, so I put it at the end of the top ten. I’m being very gracious with this list, and I hope it is appreciated.

9. M&M’s (any)

Plain, peanut, peanut butter. Any kind of M&M’s is a great treat. Crunchy, chocolaty, peanut-y, if that’s the case. I love it. Throw a little bag in your purse and you’re ready to go.

8. Starburst and Skittles (Tied)

This is me being gracious again. I understand that we all have different tastes.

7. Sixlets

Do you know this candy? A bunch of little colorful, candy-coated balls that you pop out of a little tube into your mouth? They’re great. They don’t taste as good as M&M’s, but their packaging and the way you eat them are more fun, and they feel more fun to crunch in your mouth. Plus, they’re rarer. It’s harder to come by a Sixlet. I’m not trying to run your life, but maybe you should order some online to hand out to children this year. Why not?

6. Caramel Apple Pop

An apple lollipop with caramel on top — are you serious? And it’s just called “Caramel Apple Pop”; it’s not even trying to have a flashy name because it knows it doesn’t need it? That’s a great treat. Also, I saw a bag of these at Walgreens when I bought the dreaded Sour Patch Kid Candy Corn, so they’re not even difficult to find. They’re out there. Go get them. Go get our girl — Caramel Apple Pop!

5. Kit Kat


4. Twix

An incredible candy. What a joy it is to find a mini-Twix in a bowl of mixed mini-candies during Halloween. What luck. It almost feels selfish to take it, but if you don’t, someone else will, and that person will almost certainly be a man. So go ahead and take it.

3. Sour Patch Kids

Unlike its demonic stepsibling, the horrific Sour Patch Kid Candy Corn, Sour Patch Kids are absolutely delicious. Particularly when they are “fresh” or “very stale.” (Not when they are medium-stale, but those will do in a pinch.) Once when I was a kid, as a Christmas gift, Santa (my parents) filled a shoebox with loose Sour Patch Kids. It was perfect. The only problem with a mini-bag of Sour Patch Kids is that it’s not nearly enough Sour Patch Kids, but that’s also an issue with the standard-size bag. C’est la vie. Maybe you can gather enough of the small kind to amass the appropriate serving size, which is a shoebox full.

2. Milky Way

King of the sky, king of the candy bars. This also goes for Milky Way Midnight.

1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

The best. It’s just the truth.