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Best and worst candies for Halloween

By Ben George
ben@candystore.com

Halloween candy sales this year will amount to about $2.6 billion. Research shows 95% of households will buy candy for Halloween. As with any investment, you want to do your homework.

This map of 2019’s Most Popular Halloween Candy in the U.S. by state shows the top three most popular Halloween candies in each state.

North Carolina’s three favorites are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, first; M&Ms, second; and Snickers, third, proving this is not a red or blue state, but a chocolate one.

South Carolina has quite different tastes, with Skittles being the No. 1 candy, followed by candy corn and Butterfinger.

Our northern neighbors in Virginia like Hot Tamales best, then Snickers, followed by Tootsie Pops.

Tennessee shares some of the same favorites, with Tootsie Pops first, followed by Skittles and salt water taffy, which is odd, since there’s no salt water in land-locked Tennessee.

Folks in Georgia like Jolly Ranchers best, then Swedish Fish, whatever that is, then Hershey Kisses.

Swedish fish are No. 1 in Kentucky.

It turns out Swedish Fish were created in 1958, by Malaco, a Swedish candy make. The candies are shaped like fish and come in a variety of flavors, but strawberry seems to be the most popular. They are soft and chewy. The candy does not show up on any other lists, even Minnesota, where you might expect to find Swedish candy. Minnesota likes Skittles, Tootsie Pops and candy corn.

 

Candystore.com looked at 12 years of sales data (2007-2018), particularly in the months leading up to Halloween. Adding information from major candy manufacturers and distributors helped reach the conclusions.

Then we charted the best sellers in every state for Halloween. If you’d like to see the nationwide winners, we made a graphic for that too:

Source: CandyStore.com.

Halloween Candy Quick Facts
• 172 million Americans celebrate Halloween.
• Nearly 1/4 of all Halloween purchases are made online.
• Among those who celebrate Halloween, 95% will purchase candy.
• They will spend about $25 on average.
• Most Halloween shopping is done the first two weeks of October.
• In Oregon, full-sized candy bars are the norm for trick-or-treaters to receive.
• Over 50% of parents stash some Halloween candy to enjoy later in the year.

Here are lists of the worst and best candies, according to candystore.com

Worst Halloween Candy

10. Bit-O-Honey
Honey is great. Chewy candies can be great. But there’s just something unappealing about this chewy mess. Bit-O-Honey was ranked 11 last year and moved into the number 10 spot this year, replacing Mary Janes. Perhaps this confirms that some flavors just don’t mix well with chewy candies.

9. Good & Plenty
Since Good & Plenty are pretty much licorice, we see the reason why people don’t like them. I never minded getting a box here and there on a Halloween excursion. But they were never my favorites.

8. Licorice
Note that this does not include Twizzlers, and if you read the lists you’ll see they allude to, if not outright say, black licorice. Australian licorice, if you can get your hands on it, is great. The style we see at Halloween? Not so much.

7. Smarties
Your kids will get plenty of these on Halloween. It’s inevitable. At first they’re not so bad. But the human tongue can take only so many vaguely sweet, chalky hard candy.

6. Tootsie Rolls
Your kids will also get a lot of these. They’re the easy way out for people who don’t want to spend money handing out candy. You can throw a handful into each kid’s bag and it won’t set you back much. But kids tend not to like them. Note that this is a combination of regular Tootsie Rolls and flavored Tootsie Rolls (which are flat out disgusting).

5. Necco Wafers
They’re like Smarties, but bigger, not as sweet, and more chalky. These took the top spot on one list, and I’m surprised they weren’t on every list. When I started this project, I was sure that they’d be the hands down worst candy. But then again, they have been off the market for a while since the Great Necco Wafer Panic.

4. Wax Coke Bottles
The novelty of these is great. The first time you get one. When you’re 5 years old. Then the realization sets in: you’re biting through wax to get not even a mouthful of sugar water. By age 8 you toss them in the trash without even bothering.

3. Peanut Butter Kisses
Jumping all the way to 3 from the 5 spot, these are neither Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, nor Hershey’s Kisses. You know these because they have a plain orange or black wrapper.

2. Circus Peanuts, last year’s No. 1
I’d completely forgotten about these! Or, more accurately, I’d blocked them out. There is no way to describe the vileness that is Circus Peanuts. How could there possibly be a worse Halloween candy?

1. Candy Corn, the New Worst Halloween Candy in 2019
Candy corn slid up into the No. 1 spot this year, knocking circus peanuts off the throne. Which is really saying something. I’m actually shocked. Look, if you don’t like candy corn, you can just give it to me. Yes, it’s just sugar. Isn’t that the point? Candy corn is nothing special. There are absolutely better candies out there. But if you can’t enjoy stuffing handfuls of candy corn into your pie hole, well, I don’t even know what to tell you.

The 10 Best Halloween candies
Now we get to the fun part. You can probably guess most of the candies on this list. They’re popular for a reason. But in case you wanted to know how your tastes stack up, here is the weighted list of the best Halloween candies of all time.

10. Hershey bar
We’re again combining candies here, because there just isn’t that much difference between the original Hershey Bar and the Cookies ‘n’ Cream version. Or maybe there is for your palate. In any case, Hershey bars barely missed the worst list, yet got a few mentions on the best, including two mentions in the 24/7 Wall Street list. Which, since it was based on sales, is pretty good reason to include Hershey Bar on the best list, in our eyes.

9. Skittles
If you’re not eating the entire fun size bag in one mouthful, you’re doing it wrong. None of us here ever minded getting Skittles in our Halloween bags. They’re tasty enough. But they’re nothing special, and if you eat too many your mouth starts to feel all lumpy.

8. Sour Patch Kids
We’re shocked these didn’t rank higher, given their chewiness and sweetness. But after high marks on both the BuzzFeed and Business Insider lists, Sour Patch Kids made zero additional appearances. It’s probably because they’re not that common. I haven’t seen many of the mini bags in grocery stores.

7. Butterfinger
The classic Butterfinger appeared on a number of lists, usually in the second half of the top 10. We’re not going to argue. It’s a personal favorite of mine, but it’s easy to see why it would turn off some candy fans. Still, you’re not going to complain when one gets dropped in your bag, are you?

6. Nerds
I was kinda surprised to see this on the list. The Nerds boxes you get on Halloween are typically tiny. As with Skittles, they’re pointless unless you down the whole thing in one mouthful.

5. M&Ms
One list had pretzel M&Ms, which is oddly specific. They weren’t around when I trick-or-treated (it was plain and peanut back then), so I don’t even know that people hand out the fun sized bags of them. In any case, M&Ms are great.

4. Kit Kat
On the surface the Kit Kat is pretty plain. It’s just chocolate and wafer. Yet it works so so well. And it works very well on Halloween, since you’re getting essentially half of a full-sized bar. That’s way more than you can say for most of the fun sized versions of our favorite Halloween candies.

3. Twix
If I’m getting a full-sized candy bar on Halloween, make it a Twix, please. There’s just something about them that makes them irresistible. On Halloween you can count on three versions: the aforementioned full-sized version, the one-stick half-sized version, and the fun sized version. We hope you and your kids don’t get the fun-sized version, given the alternatives.

2. Snickers
There is no surprise here. I always preferred Milky Way, but people prefer more heartiness in a candy bar, apparently. Again, it would be so easy for people to go out of their way and get full-sized versions. They’re not that big. But the fun-sized version is so small, so sad.

1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
This was the blowout of the century. Of the seven lists we ranked, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ranked No. 1 on six of them, and ranked No. 3 on the other. And that list had six candies that didn’t appear on any of the other six lists, so yeah, this was just a candy massacre. Do we have to extol the virtues of the Peanut Butter Cup? My siblings and I used to separate them out and hide them, lest they get stolen.

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