Halloween is a good holiday. Not because of the costumes or the decorations or the alarming amount of people showing up at your doorstep unsolicited—that’s all just overwrought performative nonsense. It’s great because, as an adult—a fully formed human with a deep understanding of responsibility and consequence—you can binge on all the best candies from your childhood free from judgment, if for but a night. Halloween is coming. Make informed candy choices.
Pretzels are not candy. But you already knew that. You know who doesn’t know that? Do-gooders who insist on stocking their candy supplies with pumpkin-shaped breadsticks on Halloween. Stop it. Stop making children (and also me) cry.
Same thing as pretzels except since raisins are the candy of nature they get ranked slightly higher but they are equally likely to make children (and also me) cry.
Some consider Raisinettes to be candy. They are wrong. Raisinettes are trail mix.
53. Good & Plenty
Black licorice candy was probably good when it was invented 300 years ago or whatever and some root pulled out of the dirt was the only thing they could find to add flavor to sugar. But it’s 2016 and we have dozens of varieties of Skittles and self-driving cars and Apple watches so we can move on now.
52. Hot Tamales
The black licorice rule applies to cinnamon candies as well.
51. Any Sort of Gum
You have a five-hour window to shove as much candy in you as possible until the calendar rolls over into November, and you’re going to spend time chewing gum that lost its flavor 30 seconds after it hit your mouth? Nah.
50. Tootsie Rolls
Chocolate is good. Artificial chocolate-flavored, old-timey, always-stale, turd-looking taffy is not good.
49. Regular-Ass Hershey’s Chocolate
It’s just the worst chocolate in the game.
Halloween and free candy bowls at banks are the only reason the lights are still on at the Dum-Dum factory, wherever that might be. They’re useless. The candy is so small that it doesn’t warrant being on a stick and none of the flavors are close to being good.
47. Tootsie Pops
At least they’re not Dum-Dums.
46. Blow Pops
They’re lollipops, which means they are useless. And they have gum in them, which means they are not only useless, but inconvenient. Blow Pops are uselessly inconvenient. But the watermelon blowpop is still some of the best hard candy out there so Blow Pops are ranked slightly higher.
45. Caramel Apple Pops
Ok, yeah, these are pretty good though.
44. Jolly Ranchers
Stickless lollipop that you can bite down on after 20 minutes of marinating in your mouth if you have that kind of time. But you don’t, because it’s Halloween, and the clock is ticking.
42. Ring Pops
Still not great, but since it’s on a ring and not a stick you can maintain prehensility in both hands. They are significantly more convenient than standard lollipops.
41. Mr. Goodbar
Hershey’s, aka the worst chocolate in the game, except with peanuts. So a little better.
40. Milk Duds
Wildly overrated. The creator of Milk Duds was like, “you know what would make the eating experience of chocolate covered caramel better? If you had to chew it for nine hours.”
39. Lemon Heads
Lemon is the worst flavor out of any fruit-flavored candy variety pack, and this is all that all the time.
That fact that any sort of gumdrop has remained in production in 2016 absolutely baffles me. They’re not terrible, they’re just…. They’re gumdrops. If it’s a candy your grandma would have sitting in a glass bowl in her tea room, it’s probably not a great candy.
37. Swedish Fish
Fish-shaped Dots. But they’re are least the best flavor—red—so it’s cool.
Slightly less chewy Milk Duds.
35. Bottle Caps
Most sour chalky candies are pretty solid, and Bottle Caps are no exception. The nostalgia of classic soda flavors is cool, but when you toss back a handful and get orange mixed with root beer mixed with grape, the combo can be unnerving, bordering on gross.
34. Normal Twizzlers
Twizzlers are the water of candy. Not bad, not good, just neutral enough to make you keep compulsively eating them.
33. Laffy Taffy
The jokes are never funny. They often don’t make any sense. But it is chewy and sweet, if slightly overflavored taffy. And that’s just fine. Contrary to popular belief, banana is the best flavor. Don’t @ me.
32. Milky Way
It’s the baseline of candy bars. Nougat, caramel, chocolate, fin. No one’s ever been sad they’ve eaten a Milky Way, but no one’s particularly happy about it either.
Eating plain M&M’s is like eating Nacho Cheese Doritos, or a non-Nacho Cheesed Taco Bell taco. When there are clearly better flavor options, going plain is a crime. No peanuts? No pretzels? Still not bad though.
30. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
The most overrated Halloween candy of all time. OF ALL TIME. The peanut butter is chalky and hardly recognizable as peanut butter and even though the chocolate is super processed it still melts into a puddle in your hand as soon as you touch it. Literally every other chocolate covered nut butter cup I’ve ever had in my life has been a million times better than Reese’s. Still pretty good though. I like the pumpkin shapes.
One of the top three chalky sour candies in the game right now.
One of the top two sour chalky candies in the game right now. (Throw away the bananas unless you want all your teeth to shatter. Which would be a bad thing. Because then you couldn’t eat candy).
The top chalky sour candy in the game right now.
26. Mike and Ike’s
Candy coated, fruit-flavored jellies are a good subcategory of candy. Mike & Ikes lack a bit in the flavor department—too high sugar, too low acid—but there’s only so much you can fuck up a candy-coated fruit-flavored jelly.
Sour Mike & Ike’s. Better Mike & Ikes.
24. Lemon Heads & Friends
The candy-coated, fruit flavored jelly by which all other candy-coated, fruit-flavored jellies are measured.
23. M & M’s Peanuts
Better than plain M&Ms. Less good than most other M&M varieties.
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Milky Way with peanuts. Should be better than they are. The ratios are just off though. Too much nougat, not enough peanuts and caramel. Good commercials only get you so far.
The adrenaline rush you get every time you bite into one of those white mystery flavors is an incomaprable feeling.
20. 100 Grand
Milky Way but with crispy rice, making it a hundred thousand times better. See what I did there? 100 Grand? Hundred thousand? Eyyyyy, you get it.
It’s a modernist taffy. Extra chewy, extra sour, and the every time you get two red ones in the fun size packs you feel like you won a small, personal lottery. Points are deducted for making me work by unwrapping multiple layers of packaging.
Skittles are just good. If you don’t get that, no amount of explanation will make you understand.
17. Jelly Belly
There is no more exciting candy than a variety pack of Jelly Bellys. It’s a fun-sized bag of endless possibilities. And every time you get a Buttered Popcorn flavored jelly bean, it’s like a mini Christmas. Except it’s Halloween. Whatever.
16. Baby Ruth
It’s a deceptively well-balanced candy bar, both in terms of texture and flavor. Salt and crunch from the peanuts; caramel has a nice chew; chocolate coating is not overbearing. It’s a very good platonic ideal of a candy bar.
15. Pay Day
A Baby Ruth without the chocolate coating, which actually makes it better by not muddling the flavors. The salty peanuts and sweet caramel nougat was salted caramel before salted caramel was cool.
14. Kit Kat
All chocolatey, crunchy goodness. And breaking off pieces of Kit Kat bars promotes sharing and a sense of community. That’s what Halloween is all about, right?
Kit Kat but with caramel.
There is no more elegantly packaged fun-sized candy bar. The sparse black wrapper, the elevated font, and the pseudo foreign name combines with buttery toffee to create a holistically fantastic candy experience.
11. Sour Patch Kids
A very good sour gummy candy with very good flavors.
10. Reese’s Pieces
The best flavor of M&Ms aren’t even M&Ms, and the best Reese’s Peanut Butter product isn’t a cup.
Every wrong that Rolos has ever done, Caramello has righted. The caramel is silken and flows from the chocolate bars as caramel should.
8. Skittles Sour
Any fruit-flavored candy can be improved by adding a coarse mixture of sugar and citric acid to the outside. Skittles already start with an incredibly high floor, and the sour powder only pushes it towards the ceiling.
7. Almond Joy
The shredded coconut filling is so soaked through with corn syrup that you could almost describe it as juicy. If you think that is disgusting, you are wrong. It is fantastic. And the scarcity of the almonds—just a single one on each three-bite piece—makes you appreciate the crunch even more.
I still have no idea what the crunchy shards inside a Butterfinger are. It has the caramelization and the crunch of a toffee, but it also kind of tastes like peanut butter, but it also has the flaky consistency of halva. But maybe looking at it too closely ruins the mystique.
5. Three Musketeers
No, Three Musketeers are not just a caramel-less Milky Way. That’s like saying a steak is just a bunless hamburger. It’s stupid. The filling inside the bar has the world’s most magnificent texture. Part marshmallow, part nougat, all Godlike chew and fluff.
4. Lifesaver Gummies
Easily the best gummy candy out there. Cherry, orange, green apple, strawberry, watermelon—there is not a single weak flavor in the bag. The texture is supple yet springy, tender but still al dente.
3. Hershey’s Cookies & Cream
First, commodity white chocolate is better than commodity milk chocolate. Second, adding little Oreo-style cookie bits to anything is an absolute textural power move. Combine the two and you get a simple candy whose whole is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.
Malt is the best flavor. It’s funky and weird and bready but it adds an extra flavor dimension that cuts through all the sweetness of the chocolate and makes the crunch balls sing with complexity.
1. Candy Corn
This is a nation founded on candy corn and I will be damned if you come in here with all your negative energy and deface everything the U-S-of-A stands for. This is one nation, under candy corn, with liberty and justice for all. And it always will be.