The following is part of a (still ongoing) series of Halloween-themed lists which I’m transferring over from my Brian Terrill Movie Night page. Any chronological inconsistencies are the result of this fact.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without a nuanced discussion of the comparative merits of various confections. I’m now officially tossing in my two cents. My thoughts on the matter will be split into two lists, one for fruit candies and one for chocolate. The skeptical among you may assume I’m doing this to help fill the month’s quota faster, but you’d be wrong. I simply wanted to give equal attention to the two most prominent feuding families on the sweet treat scene.
Note: I tried to give priority to candies which could at least potentially be found in the average trick-or-treat swag bag. In other words, I excluded some candies which are overly obscure, don’t typically come in the easily-distributed “fun size,” or are more common around Easter time.
Honorable Mention: Shock Tarts
Okay, technically they’re now called “SweeTarts Chewy Sours” after briefly being marketed as the poorly-named “Shockers,” but I’ll always know them by the original name. Shock Tarts are a sour candy with the consistency of Mentos, and used to be packaged similarly, in a long foil roll. I admit that, of my selections, this is the one you’re least likely to find among your Halloween loot. For that reason I’ve excluded them from official consideration. but if you can track them down, I highly recommend them. They’re far more impressive than the SweeTarts knockoffs they’re currently billed as.
Easily the most palatable of the chalky, semi-sweet “wafer” candies, Smarties outpace their competition by being compulsively pop-able. And while SweeTarts give you only a paltry two or three pellets per pouch and Pez requires a complex delivery system, Smarties provide the perfect portion in the perfect packaging. They may not be anyone’s first choice, but I’m never disappointed to reach for that rainbow-striped roll.
4. Sour Patch Kids
You gotta love that “sour sugar” stuff they dust this variety of sour gummies with. Other members of the same family include sour punch straws and sour gummi worms, a favorite of my college roommate. But there’s something so much more rewarding about taking that delicious formula and putting it in human form. What other candy allows you to devour children “by the village” (the measurement used by a fellow fan I spoke to)? Nowhere this side of Red Lobster’s bottomless shrimp can a single eater wreak so much wanton destruction.
3. Gummi Savers
Now named “Life Savers Gummis” by whatever killjoy butchered Cherry Coke, Gummi Savers offer great taste and arguably the best consistency of any “gummi” candy. Unlike many of their chewy peers, they won’t get stuck in your teeth (I’m looking at you, Mike & Ike). So whether you favor the classic “Five Flavors” or are staunchly in the “Wild Berries” camp, these gummis are there to save you from tasteless monotony.
The genius of Nerds lies in their unique packaging. Rather than plastic, they come in a tiny cardboard box. The ritual of consuming them instills a mix of emotions in the eater: On the one hand, it delivers a burst of refreshing, tangy flavor. On the other hand, it reminds you point blank that you are doing yourself no favors in terms of health, hygiene or social standing.
Nerds are properly eaten as follows:
-Pop the box.
-Place the box between your lips.
-Tip your head back and take a mighty swig from the slightly damp cardboard.
-Repeat as needed.
I should say that Nerds received a boost on this list due to the innovation of the “Nerds Rope,” a variant in which the standard pellets are attached to a length of licorice for increased portability. In my high school marching band days, I’d grab a Nerds Rope each mid-game concession run. And that’s a nostalgia rush as sweet as any candy.
1. Big Bold Bears
I tend to hate on the march of time. Sure, some great things fade away and are consigned to history’s dustbin. Others are simply reduced to shadows of their former selves (don’t get me started on the shrinking Pop-Tarts debacle). But every once in a while, the future looks bright. Case in point, a recent development from the good folks at Trolli:
These gargantuan gummi bears are packaged individually in the “fun size,” and they have a larger-than-life flavor to match. But it’s not the size that makes these ursine treats a winner. It’s not the taste. Who am I kidding? It’s the name. Try just one BIG BOLD BEAR, and you’ll be running to tell your friends.