At the arts desk, we know the two real purposes of Halloween are watching movies and eating tons of junk food. However, not all candy is created equal. In this article, two writers debate the most important issue of our time — which Halloween candies are great, and which are trash.
Josh Petersen: To start this debate, I tried to get some hard data to bolster my argument. USA Today just announced the most popular Halloween candies in every state, and Utah’s favorites were horrifying. Jolly Ranchers won first place by a wide margin, followed by candy corn and Tootsie Pops. Jolly Ranchers are fine, but the flavors are too strong. Two minutes in, it starts to taste like cough syrup, and you still have most of that candy left. Plus, the leftover shards stick to my teeth hours afterward, which is unpleasant for me and my dentist. Candy corn is an abomination that should not be a part of any holiday. I also don’t have the patience for Tootsie Pops. After a few licks, I am ready for a new candy. It is definitely not worth a half hour of diligent work to get to the skimpy, shriveled Tootsie Roll center.
As far as I’m concerned, anything that’s not chocolate is second-class, with Skittles being a noteworthy exception. Bonus points are added for dark chocolate, peanut butter or mint, which makes Milky Way Midnights, Junior Mints and Peanut Butter M&Ms the first thing I reach for in any candy bowl.
What do you think, Palak? Were you as disappointed in Utah as I was? What were your trick-or-treating staples? What about other classic Halloween foods, like chili or pumpkin spice anything? There are no wrong answers, except for the few wrong answers.
Palak Jayswal: Well, Josh, I have to agree with you on some of your points. As a glutton for chocolate — milk, dark or white — those are always the ones you rifle through your bag or pumpkin-shaped bucket for at the end of the night. Disappointment in Utah’s choice of preferred Halloween candy is an understatement. Horrifying is a nice way to describe our odd interest in Jolly Ranchers. Personally, I think they should be outlawed because it’s not only hard to eat them, but the flavors suck (no pun intended). I do have to strongly oppose your views on candy corn, though. In mass quantities, it can be overwhelming and it’s not my first choice when looking for some Halloween candy to snack on — but it’s a worthy contender and it embodies the season. It’s a staple. Tootsie pops are worth it if you have the patience and the time, otherwise, I prefer its easier and quicker companion, Tootsie Rolls.
All in all, it comes down to personal preference. One person’s chocolate obsession is another person’s sour candy obsession. Perhaps you and I are born in the pure chocolate era. I did some of my own research, and according to USA Today, Utah ranks seventh on a list ranking the states in terms of candy economy. With the highest population of children under 14 (24.9%), it makes you wonder if the reason our staple candies are Jolly Ranchers, candy corn and Tootsie Pops is due to the younger generation enjoying them. Younger children are more likely they are to pick something colorful out of the candy bowl, aren’t they? Another thing to consider is the price of these candies. It’s much cheaper to buy a bag of candy corn as opposed to a variety pack of chocolate, especially if you forget to get the candy until the day of.
At the end of the day, even though my preference for chocolate will always be there — desperate times call for desperate measures and I’m willing to compromise for whatever there is if I need to satisfy my sweet tooth. Although, Josh, I am interested to hear what you think about other candy. Like Sour Patch Kids or Nerds? Are they up there with Skittles for you or are those the candies which remain leftover in your pantry months after Halloween is over?
JP: Palak, it’s nice to know we have some common ground — yes on chocolate, no on Jolly Ranchers. You made some compelling arguments, though I refuse to budge on candy corn. It is bland, stale and unsatisfying. Sure, it’s festive, but it makes a better decoration than a snack. Still, I think your point about young candy fans makes sense, and who am I to stomp out the joy of Halloween for kids? I was also heartened to see Utah is doing their due diligence in buying candy. Nothing was worse than knocking on a door as a kid just to get a pencil. (Though my family usually gives out small bags of chips, which can be a nice antidote to all the sweetness).
I like Sour Patch Kids, but I do think they are weirdly overrated. A surprising amount of people list Sour Patch Kids as their favorite candy, which I can’t get behind, but I do admit the Watermelon slaps. Nerds, Pop Rocks and Fun Dip are more fun to eat than delicious, but I remember thinking they were exciting parts of my trick-or-treat haul. I also like Starbursts, but I have very specific color preferences — red is my favorite, yellow is my least. For me, the real bottom of the barrel is Smarties, which have the consistency and flavor of chalk. People who give out Smarties on Halloween: please reevaluate all of your life choices.
Still, as a kid, I always enjoyed the act of trick-or-treating more than the candy itself. After a glorious binge the night of, I would mostly forget about the huge stash of candy in my pantry. The excitement of dressing up in costume was more important to me than picking one specific favorite. Having said that, the correct answer is Twix.
PJ: There is absolutely nothing worse than going to a house on Halloween and being handed a healthy snack. I didn’t mind the pencils or other Halloween knickknacks because I always ended up using them. At my house, I was always super particular about what candy we gave other kids. I felt like it was my duty to assure they got quality candy so I always made sure my parents sprung for the chocolate variety packs. Towards the end of my trick or treating years, we moved, so I had all different neighborhoods to go to. There were houses that gave out popcorn, popping it right on the doorstep. But let’s be real, the real Halloween heroes are the ones who hand out full-sized candy bars.
I have to agree with you on Sour Patch Kids. I used to love them before everyone got into them. Nerds and Fun Dip, however, were some of the candies that stayed in my barrel for the rest of the year. I enjoyed them but not enough to devour right away. Starbursts are one of the most disgusting candies (if you can even call them that) out there. They are so gross, Josh! I used to trade those with kids at school the next day. Smarties were good to have every once in a while, though. I didn’t mind those.
I loved going trick or treating too. My parents didn’t take me out to lots of neighborhoods when I was younger, just ours and a few next door. My school always put on a Halloween party/fair and there’s where I got most of my haul. I remember my favorite part was seeing what everyone was dressed up as and wondering who would win the grade’s costume contest that year. There are old pictures of me dressed as Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh which would still be contenders today, I think. I agree with you, although the candy is a plus, it’s not all about it! My favorite is definitely Hershey’s or Reese’s.
What are your favorite (or least favorite) Halloween candies? Let us know in the comments below.