Halloween is traditionally a time of magic, bone-chilling costumes, pigging out on candy and watching scary movies until you’re cowering with fear and turning every light on. This year, Halloween instead is a time when a lot of decisions have to be made: What costume you will wear, when the best time to go trick or treating is, what streets have the best candy, whether you will even go trick or treating or not in this weird year. And, of course, the most important question of all: What is the best Halloween candy?
We don’t have a single answer for you; instead, we have ten. The top journalistic minds of the Brandeis community are dedicated to providing a full, perhaps too thorough, perhaps unnecessarily personal account of the greatest Halloween candies to ever hit the shelves of your local Walgreens.
100 Grand Bar
As someone with a severe peanut allergy (I can eat select other types of nuts), I TRY to avoid foods that I don’t necessarily know the contents of just in case I get an allergic reaction. (I will admit that I usually ignore the “made in a facility that processes peanuts” or something along those lines because, well… my ability to consume some snacks would be severely limited if I always listened to those warnings. And I haven’t gotten a severe enough reaction to anything with that label to fear for my life and be more conscientious about it!) With this limited selection of candies, I am left with only a few core ingredients to make up my Halloween candy, mainly chocolate and caramel.
I will say that my favorite candy changes depending on the year because the only time I really see, or consume, 100 Grand bars is during Halloween. I probably could find them if I tried hard enough, but I think it is just not a common candy that people often enjoy, which is why it only really comes out during Halloween. And only eating 100 Grand bars during Halloween is a nice sentimental association that I can make with trick-or-treating during my youth. But what’s there not to like about it? The candy bar is literally a Crunch bar with caramel in the middle. The caramel can be a little thick sometimes, but the contrasting nature of the soft caramel core with the slight crunch of the crisped rice is just so great. I will say, though, it’s SUPER sweet. I think it would be much better with a dark chocolate exterior compared to milk chocolate to help cut some of the sweetness. But, nonetheless, the candy bar is literally called 100 Grand (previously known as the $100,000 Bar), so that must mean that something’s good about it.
As a child, when I would skip down the street with a smile on my face on Halloween, there was nothing that made me more excited than seeing one of those glorious red bars slide into my bag. Those of you with any personality know exactly what I am talking about: Kit Kats.
I must preface all of this by saying that I am a texture eater. I don’t even like shrimp or yogurt because of their texture, but the texture and crunchiness of a Kit Kat hits all of the right spots. That crispy wafer is surely something to be contested. The gentle chocolate covering surrounding the wafer just adds an extra layer of goodness. I can’t even come close to understanding why anyone would ever pick any of the sour candies or Skittles, but I suppose to each their own.
However, even after all of this, I have yet to mention one of the best things about Kit Kats: you can share them! They are literally manufactured so that you can split them between you and your best friends, so that nobody is missing out. With a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for example, when you open up that wrapping, you are only given one. You heard it here first: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ruin friendships, while Kit Kats not only maintain friendships, they build on the foundation already there.
Halloween is a wonderful time of year: What is there not to like? Fun decorations, costumes and of course candy. However Halloween is also a very intimidating time of year for an indecisive person. Have you ever been to the candy aisle? There are so many choices, so many candies, it is just impossible to decide; as someone who has a hard time making up their mind about anything, shopping for Halloween candy is difficult. However all my difficulties end when I see one candy: Crunch.
If you have read any of my previous food reviews, you will know that I like simpler flavors and adore chocolate. Crunch has both of those: with only milk chocolate and crisped rice, it is a simple but delicious combination. Unfortunately Crunch does not seem to be as popular as other kinds of candy: it is definitely a lot more difficult to find. But who can say no to this beautiful mix of crunchy and sweet? I definitely cannot: I am even eating a Crunch bar as I write this.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
I shouldn’t even have to be writing this; there is no argument against this fact. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best candy. End of story.
The peanut butter-chocolate combination cannot be topped: you get the sweetness from the chocolate and the savory from the peanut butter. Both are great individually to begin with, but when you combine them you create the most superior food.
And it’s so much more than just a candy: there’s Reese’s Cups ice-cream, Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Puffs Cereal. It’s so versatile. I can’t say I’ve ever seen Almond Joy ice cream or cereal. You know why? Because they’re the worst and no one wants that.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are never out of season; they aren’t solely a Halloween candy like candy corn. They never go out of style because they come in tree shape for Christmas, egg shape for Easter and even heart shape for Valentine’s Day.
Kit Kats are the only other respectable candy, but the wafer crisp is no competition for Reese’s Cups. Kit Kats’ fatal flaw is that they are missing the creaminess of the peanut butter, and therefore could never even compare.
No other candy brings the joy that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups bring. No one gets excited when they get Whoppers or Mounds in their trick or treat bucket. The real excitement comes from Reese’s Cups; those orange wrappers bring so much happiness (and cavities) to everyone—no matter their age.
And with that I rest my case—Reese’s Cups are the best candy. I’m sorry to anyone who is allergic to peanuts because you are missing out.
Back in the days when I was young, free and dangerously addicted to sugar, nothing beat the glory of canvassing my neighborhood for the ultimate Halloween route. Like an Ocean’s 11 casino heist, I would draw out my map on pieces of paper scattered about my room like the candy wrappers that would soon replace them. The little fanatic that I was, I made sure to rank each home by order of preference, based on what candy it had, how large the portions were and, critically, how quickly it ran out. As a result, I came up with a mathematically perfect system for my Halloween hunt, traversing my neighborhood with a machine-like precision and extracting the greatest resources for the fewest steps. Chief among those resources in my childhood candy economy was the miniature Twix Bar.
Oh if I could write an ode to a Twix Bar! At each bite, my carefully calculated candy-analysis system seemed to falter. How do you quantify the light of the sun hitting your back on a sandy day at the beach? How do you analyze the beauty of a dog finally being reunited with its owner? How do you put into numbers the sheer glory of watching two, three, four delicious copper wrappers fall into your pillow case on an eerie autumn night? There are some things too beautiful to be reduced to a target on a map. My system didn’t account for perfection.
The miniature Twix became an Ahab-esque obsession and I found the price steep for my monomaniacal pursuit. Trading up with my brothers led to some steely negotiations deep within our basement. Promises were made and broken. Alliances were formed and dissolved at the drop of a Party City cowboy hat. But I had an advantage they did not. I was allergic to nuts.
Now, dear reader, you may think me biased in my review of the Twix bar thanks to my childhood, life-threatening allergy. But no, I contest, this health defect was actually a critical advantage. Without the unnecessary and foolish attraction to the peanut-butter based treats that some of our other columnists may enjoy, I was clear-minded and exacting in my plans. I traded up. Twix bars were a desired commodity to be sure, one can’t expect anything less from the best, but the unnatural ferver over lesser snacks, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Snickers to name a few, gave me an edge. Halloween after Halloween I upped my Twix count until I was practically drowning in the little nuggets. I peaked as a third-grade trading mastermind and I never looked back.
Those of you reading this now might be too old to trade and too wise to trick-or-treat during a pandemic. But I hope at the very least that you’ve learned by reading my few humble words that perfection is just a wrapper and a couple bucks away.
I have never seen a more insulting slew of words against Almond Joys than the ones used by fellow writer Victoria Morrongiello. Almond Joys are good, nay amazing, nay spectacular, nay divine, in theory only, because they are not peanut butter cups. Almond Joys are so successful on their own they don’t need cheap cop-outs like cereals and ice cream to keep their brand afloat. Everyone knows that coconut and single almond covered in cheap and thin chocolate. Sure, does it seem like they are going under because they only use one almond? Maybe, we don’t like to talk about it. But regardless, they are so iconic that everyone has the same first thought when getting one, which is, “I do not want to eat this, and I know no one will take it from me willingly.” But then after they eat it, they think, “Wow, those are not as bad as I thought they were: not great but not horrible.” So, sure, are Almond Joys like that Zammy dude you made out with in the corner after getting out of a long-term relationship? Yeah, sort of: You didn’t think you’d like it, it was not your first choice by a long shot compared to other options, but after it was done, you can’t help but think: It wasn’t all bad. But the true joy of an Almond Joy is that you do not eat it all the time. Sure, you can stuff your face with peanut butter cups that are peanuts lying to you about being sweet all year, but you’ll always remember that time you ate a single Almond Joy, hence why they are the best. For better or worse, you’ll remember it, mainly worse though…
Sour Punch straws
I am so thankful for whatever modern science led to the invention of the Sour Punch straw. Though a rare Halloween find, this treat is easily the most exciting one to find in your Halloween stash. Sour Punch straws are like if Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids had a baby—shape of a Twizzler, taste of a Kid, all around delicious.
I’m very passionate about gummy candy in general, but unfortunately this branch of candy is often neglected on Halloween. House after house will have Milky Ways, Snickers and whatever other chocolate candies were the cheapest at the store. You know what’s never on sale? The good stuff. Individually wrapped gummy candies are hard to come by in general, as most are usually sold in big bags (like gummy bears or worms). Those wanting to switch it up typically go for Skittles. Not a bad choice, but it’s got nothing on the delight of a Sour Punch straw. They’re slightly sweeter than your average Sour Patch Kid but still enough to make your eyes water if you have too many. They’re just the right amount of chewy and small enough that you can try all the flavors without getting sick. Sure, they’re a little more expensive, but I promise they are worth it.
Fall time is a beautiful time of year that most people look forward to. The feeling of the cold crisp air is a refreshing compromise between the blazing summer that passed and the freezing, bitterly cold winter. The warmth of a nice new cozy fall sweater and the scent of pumpkin everything (from lattes to candles to pies). Even with all of these memorable senses, one of the most recognized would be the taste of the delicious candy you would get from Halloween. I’m not sure about all of the other kids, but I distinctly remember making routes to hit the highest number of houses that gave king-sized candy based on information from my friends and I in previous years. Each of my friends would personalize their route to maximize the amount of their favorite candy they would be able to collect. Some prioritized large Reese’s cups, others prefered Life Savers or gummies, and others didn’t care what type it was as long as it was chocolatey and came in a size larger than fun. However, there was one candy my friends and I made sure to avoid: candy corn.
I always wished I enjoyed candy corn. Candy corn is likely the most iconic Halloween candy. From movies to promotions, when you think of Halloween candy, candy corn is likely on the top of that list. But compared to the other options, it could never compete. It doesn’t have the same chocolatey sweetness or fruity flavor that most other candies do. But the factor that makes it my least favorite candy has got to be the texture. It is neither soft nor chewy. It sort of just crumbles in your mouth, and the taste that is left over is nothing that has ever gotten me to say “Ooh I’ll take another,” With such a large variety, the festive candy corn is fun for decoration, but has been my least favorite candy when it comes to what I want to eat on Nov. 1.
Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the variety of candy. Whereas most holidays have specific sets of foods that are traditionally associated with them, the very nature of Halloween emphasizes the variety. Everyone offers different candies, so everyone will end the night with a quite literal mixed bag. There is no one definitive Halloween candy, but instead a myriad cornucopia of options, some better than others… So in that light, what better time of year is there to compare candies? I won’t hide the fact that I have one or more sweet teeth, and that I’m not all that discriminating in my taste for candy. That being said, I am rather partial to the Milky Way.
First of all, the name. It’s named after a galaxy. And not just any galaxy, our galaxy. The one in which, unless I’m vastly underestimating the breadth of my readership, you and I are both currently living. I can’t speak for the reader, but pretty much all of my favorite people and things are in the Milky Way, so that’s pretty cool. But if a cosmically great name isn’t good enough to make my case, then consider the flavor combination. All sorts of desserts and candies are based around a combination of tastes, mostly chocolate-based. Chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate and mint. Chocolate and nuts. Those are good and they have their place, but as far as I’m concerned none of them can compare to chocolate and caramel. Both are excellent flavors in their own right, but combined they elevate each other to new heights. Still, perhaps you continue to disagree. That’s your right. In fact at this point it seems best to fall back on the old Latin maxim, “de gustibus non est disputandum”—“about taste there can be no disputing.”
Oh, to be a child again. The candy was better in those days. There used to be a sour variety of Starbursts that were out of this world. My face smarts, and the saliva starts running at the thought of them. Whenever my father would stop for gas, he would pick me up a pack of these things. The wrappers littered the floor and invaded every seat crevice. They came in wonderful fluorescent hues of electric blue raspberry, grape purple, cherry red and a particularly acid green apple. There is always this debate surrounding which Starburst colors are the best (red best, yellow worst) but not with sour Starbursts. Each flavor equally felt like it was boring a hole in your gums. It was awesome, but my teeth would kind of hurt if I ate too many of them. I imagine that the company stopped production of them because the sugar content was akin to an entire plantation in a single gelatinous cube. The new variety, the Sour/Sweet Starburst packs, are a total farce. Child’s play. Alas…