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The Hierarchy of Halloween Candy
A Guide to Halloween Treats
Every Halloween, thousands of children scatter throughout their neighborhoods, garbed in shadows and paint, hoping to frighten others and gorge themselves on candy. Yet every year, without fail, those same children receive both the very best, and the very worst, of treats. Some of these will eventually be thrown away in trashbags, while others will reach their gooey demise in the stomachs of sugar-crazed youngsters.
Here is one hierarchy of those treats, for the Trick-or-Treating connoisseurs.
1. Name-Brand, Full-Sized Chocolate Bars
At the top of the list are the high-quality, name-brand, full-sized chocolates bars. None of the “fun-sized” candies here: these are store quality bars of sugar and nougat, nuts and caramels. Magnificent, really. Neighborhood children will adore the person who hands these out.
2. "Fun-Size" Name-Brand Chocolates
Second in the hierarchy are the “fun-sized” chocolates (though really, what’s so fun about a tiny chocolate bar? How is a full-sized bar any less fun?). This includes peanut butter cups, nougat bars – anything Cadbury or Hershey is usually a good, solid bet. These are high-profile, recognizable candies: a house that hands out these sorts of treats will definitely be remembered for years to come. No smashed pumpkins or toilet paper messes for you to clean up, good, upstanding citizen! And isn’t that really what Halloween is all about?
3. Name-Brand Gummy Candies
Here are the various gummy candies of good standing in the confectionary community. Sour Patch Kids, Gummi Bears, Cherry Blasters – really, anything from Maynards or the Allan Company is a solid contender for this spot.
4. Bags of Chips
Cheetos, Doritos, Lays, etc. They are delicious, but have two main disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that though they are packaged in lightweight bags, these bags often possess more air than chips, making them inefficient in terms of space-to-treat ratio. Second, since these bags are often so puffed full of air that it doesn’t take much pressure to pop the bags right open, leading to a salty, crumby mess, and loss of precious treats.
5. Generic / No-Name Chips
These are the chips which are themselves not particularly tasty, but are salty enough to satisfy the urge to crunch on something crispy. Slightly beneath this are the bags of no-name Cheese Puffs that inundate store shelves every Halloween – partly because, like most survivalist food, they never seem to expire. Good for a trip to the Amazon, or as a complement to the canned food in your bomb shelter. Not good for much else.
6. The Halloween Chocolates
Here's where we start to get into the stuff that isn't quite so good.
These are the sugary treats which only emerge from the dusty warehouses once a year, as Halloween creeps closer. They often bear an uncanny resemblance to their sibling treats, the Christmas candies, and their distant cousins, the Easter-themed chocolates. These are possibly fashioned in the same factories of broken dreams that create the Advent Calendars, with their hidden shards of tiny, Christmas-themed chocolates.
These are poor substitutes for any other form of chocolate, and reflect a lifetime of shattered dreams and broken promises for the buyer. It’s a sad state of the world when a child opens their bloated pillowcase only to find that half of the chocolate there belongs in this category.
The quality of the chocolate is poor, the candies are often chewy and tasteless, and the wrappers, though garish and colorful, give off an unsettling aura of something haunted by the ghosts of Halloween’s long past.
7. Home-made Candies and Treats
While these treats might very well be delicious – perhaps the most delicious treat you would ever eat – no child has been able to consume them since roughly the 1970s. Few parents will allow their precious youngsters to eat candy which is not properly wrapped to prove its store-bought authenticity. Fear of blades, poisons, needles, tire irons, and other such potential flammable agents result in most of these hand-crafted products being discarded to the garbage. Truly, we live in the end times.
8. Bubble Gum
There are varying qualities of gum, as there are with most of the items on this list. Good gum is a middling treat – you could take it or leave it, but it is something that you know will eventually get chewed.
Bad gum should actually be ranked a few steps lower because it tastes like pink soap. Well, to be fair, you cannot really taste the pinkness of the gum, but the soap taste is as unmistakable as it is inexplicable. Also, I am fairly certain that some kinds of gum are hard enough to bludgeon a man to death. Included in this category are Tootsie Rolls, which are often about the same level of jaw-breaking hardness.
9. Soda Pop
Fizzy drinks are delicious! But heavy. This is a problem. Children are small, with weak, spindly arms. They do not have the upper body strength to lug around a bag full of carbonated beverages. Furthermore, these cans, though welcome additions to any child’s wildly unhealthy diet, take up room which could otherwise be used for anywhere between five to seven candies. The can of soda is logistically unsupportable for trick-or-treaters.
Furthermore, the sodas received are often poor quality cans of murky fluid. Grape Stuff, Ginger Drink, and Mud Cola are not the things which appetites are weaned on.
10. Gelatinous Hamburgers
I am not quite sure who green-lighted this idea, but someone decided, “Hey, kids like hamburgers, and they like candy. Let’s make an unholy fusion of the two!” These candies, made of differently colored layers of gummy-stuff, are patterned to visually resemble hamburgers, but with all of the taste of a rubber eraser. Honorable mentions go to the gelatinous hamburger’s cousins: the gelatinous hotdog, the gelatinous pizza, and the gelatinous taco.
Allergies! Seriously, come on! Children could die!
But on a lighter note, the packets are tiny, often unsalted, and occasionally far, far past their best before dates. Sometimes, they aren’t even packaged. Sometimes, they’re still in the shell, raw, just thrown by handful into your Halloween bag. No thank you.
12. Rockets (Smarties in the USA)
Rockets. Everyone knows these cylinders of sugar. You might say to yourself, “But I like those! They’re like Sweet Tarts!” No. They are not. Sweet Tarts are decent candies. Rockets are formed from a pale, near-tasteless powder which could conceivable be replaced by cement dust with no one the wiser.
13. Candy Corn
One day someone was eating corn on the cob and decided, “This is good, but it would be so much better if it was made of sugar and synthetic colors, and then bagged by hand by strangers and distributed to unknown children on a single night of the year.” Why do people still hand this out?
Raisins, for those who don’t know, are shriveled little husks of grape-flesh. They possess nearly as much sugar as an equal amount of candy, and are dusted with additional sugar for good measure. So, claims of being health-conscious are essentially unsupportable. Plus, they’re raisins. Dried grape is a downgrade from delicious fresh grape.
Also, false advertising warning: they neither dance nor sing. They just sit there….being raisins.
15. Candy Kisses
Not to be confused with the delicious chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, Candy Kisses are far more sinister.
What are they?
I do not know.
They are amorphous globs of hardened brown sheathed in waxed, orange shreds of Halloween-themed paper. Their consistency is similar to a molasses sludge that has been left out to air-dry until rock solid.
There is always at least one child who – for some unknowable reason – likes these chunks of sugar-saturated murk. Trades are often viable options with these individuals, who will gladly take your Candy Kisses, and will in turn grant you a Rocket, or a Gelatinous Hamburger. For which you will be happy, if for no other reason than that you no longer have a hard paperweight masquerading as a confection to deal with.
(For those who are genuinely interested, these are a candy derived from molasses, originally created during the Great Depression when other sugar resources for sweet creation were scarce).
Historically speaking, apples have never really had a great reputation in the Western world. Adam and Eve, Snow White – generally, strangers who offer apples intend no good. And while there have never been any actual recorded instances of razor blades being inserted into distributed apples, the urban legend persists. As a side-note, candy apples and caramel apples, while undeniably delicious, fall under the category of Home-made Candies and Treats, so they are essentially disqualified from raising this beleaguered fruit’s ranking.
Don’t get me wrong, I like apples. Just…not for Halloween. Keep it candy, people.
This is one hierarchy, one single categorization of candy treats. It is biased, certainly, but it is a solid guideline for choosing Halloween treats for children which has hopefully provided some insight into the best (and worst) of spooky fall treats. Keep in mind as well that this list was intended for the most spoiled of trick-or-treaters, and for those who consider themselves candy connoisseurs, so it's all in good fun.
What are your favorite candies, Halloween and otherwise? Disagree with the ranking? Tell us why!