Ranking the best Halloween candies

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By Darren Johnson
Campus News

When I used to work for Southampton College – out on the East End of Long Island where many celebrities live – I’d sometimes, with my wife, take my daughter trick-or-treating out there. There’s one wealthy neighborhood that’s crazy and all the houses give out the full-sized candy bars, not the “fun size” – which usually are too small to be all that much fun. Trick-or-treating behind us could be some celebrity with his or her kids; one I recall seeing was Kelly Ripa. We’d get so much candy, I’d have to try some of it later.

But even in years where we just went to normal neighborhoods and did mostly get the “fun size” treats, there was abundance, and, being a good parent, I’d get to sample some here and there. Purely for research purposes, of course.

Hence, I am well qualified to write this timely article on the 10 best “fun size” Halloween takeaways. Let’s go in reverse order, for spooky suspense purposes:

10. Twizzlers – I have no problems with this red fake licorice, per se. It’s tasty, though lacks much substance. The main issue is, because people are so afraid of affecting kids who have peanut allergies, there’s way too much of this product on the market. As J-Lo said: “Enough!”

9. Mary Janes – Unlike Twizzlers, I really only see these chewy candies at Halloween, or if I’m in some retro general store in Vermont, where they like to partake in a different kind of “Mary Jane.” These are rare treats, but more than one or two and you may start to hallucinate and think these candies are actually good.

8. M&M’s – My beef isn’t with M&M’s, necessarily, but a “fun size” pack may only have four or five of the peanut variety. Four or five? Feh! That’s just getting started.

7. O’Henry – These would score higher if they didn’t taste so much like Baby Ruth. That said, O’Henry makes the list because I rarely see them full-size anywhere while Baby Ruth may have a better distributor. And O’Henry is slightly better.

6. Mr. Goodbar – Again, I only see these in the tiny sizes, but they pack a wallop. Why aren’t these more mainstream? Their Hershey cousin, Krackel, suffers similar discrimination – but Krackel is way better than similar Nestle Crunch.

5. Dots – The original, indestructible gummy candy. You can use these as temporary fillings to cover the cavities caused by the previous candies, until you get safely to a dentist on All Saints Day. The trial size version of Dots only contains 4 or 5 of these door-stoppers, and there’s no quality control. They could be all the same color, or different colors. No one at the factory cares.

4. Peppermint Patties – I know there are some Junior Mints loyalists here, but for me, there’s no contest between the two. Junior Mints are mushy and lack punch. The mint in York’s Peppermint Patties sticks with you; the chocolate is richer. Now, this is one of the few candies where the small-sized version is better than the full-sized. The smaller ones have a better chocolate-to-mint ratio, and taste great frozen.

3. Heath Bars – English toffee treats. Jolly good! A great example of less is more. How can anyone not like these?

2. Starburst – Sorry, Skittles, but Starburst is the king of the candies for kids with allergies. They are big enough where you only can handle one at a time; not too sweet, but not too waxy. And taking 20 minutes to wrestle a wrapper off of one of them is great for your fine motor skills. Prevents dementia.

And … drumroll …

1. It’s Complicated – No, this is not the name of a candy, or my Facebook status, but my take on this all-important No. 1 needs some explaining. You see, the simple answer is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But – and this is a big but (and I cannot lie) – not the full-sized single cup that has been trendy to hand out recent Halloweens. No way. Much, much better are the little foil-wrapped Peanut Butter Cups. Again, it’s the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio that makes all the difference.

So that’s my Top 10 Halloween candy list, and it should be yours, too.

Another note: If you are at home on Halloween night, it’s important to buy trick-or-treat candy you yourself like to eat, in case you don’t give away all your loot that night to the costumed kids.

If you are reading this after Halloween, go get the above candy on clearance at your local grocery store or pharmacy. And send me pic of you with your favorite holiday candy – email your image to cccn@cccn.us or text 518-879-0965. We’ll run the pics on our web site. Happy snacking!

Darren Johnson believes it’s OK to wear a costume to class on Halloween. He will be teaching his Public Relations and Advertising classes that day at a small college in Upstate New York.