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A Halloween Candy Hierarchy: What's Your Favorite Trick or Treat?

"I developed a candy hierarchy, along with an elaborate trading scheme in which I would try to pawn off the candies I couldn't stand to unsuspecting friends and neighbors in exchange for a candy bar."

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Candy corn, chocolate ice cubes, candy peanuts, and generic hard candies are patently unacceptable. To me they show a lack of respect for trick-or-treaters everywhere. Photograph from iStockphoto.com

For someone like me, who has a serious sweet tooth and likes to eat a lot, Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I always loved trick-or-treating, and to me Halloween was always about the candy.

It certainly wasn't about the costumes. I was always the kid dressed up like, well, me. My mother was too busy to think about what costume I wanted or needed to wear on Halloween, so I'd go to Halloween parties dressed as Ed Levine. There was nothing fun, festive, or scary about that particular state of affairs.

For me the candy was king, and not just any candy, either. There were candies I desperately wanted in copious amounts, candies that were sort of OK—"sweet tooth–neutral" I used to call them—and then there were the candies I was desperate to avoid, that I regarded like the plague. I developed a candy hierarchy, along with an elaborate trading scheme in which I would try to pawn off the candies I couldn't stand to unsuspecting friends and neighbors in exchange for a candy bar. Those trades were built around an exchange of quantity for quality.

So consider my baker's (or should I say confectioner's) dozen halloween candy hierarchy.

1. Mini Mounds bar: Mounds bars are perhaps my favorite commercial candy bar. You just can't beat the combination of dark chocolate and the tender sweet coconut. Anybody giving out Mounds bars I would try to circle back to over and over again. Almond Joys would have been ranked as high if they weren't covered with sickly sweet milk chocolate.

2. Chunky: I don't think they make mini Chunkies, so anybody who gave out full-size Chunkies (or any other full-size candy bars for that matter) was A-OK in my book.

3. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: A fine Halloween repast. In fact, I remember being absolutely thrilled when one of my neighbors gave out full-size peanut butter cups. The minis always seem a little chintzy to me. Maybe I'm being overly harsh in my assessment. Reese's Pieces are not an acceptable substitute in my book. And I wish the Reese's dark chocolate peanut butter cups were more readily available. Green-oriented grown-ups could give away the Paul Newman organic dark chocolate peanut cups to trick-or-treaters. Those suckers are good. In fact, they may be better than Mounds bars.

4. Snickers: Mini Snickers are pretty damn fine, and we have always found that our neighbor's kids are very happy when we offer them up in our apartment.

5. Milky Way: I like the new dark chocolate Milky Ways a lot, but I do find that I miss that nutty Snickers crunch.

6. Peanut M&Ms: I know I'm in the minority here, but I like peanut M&Ms a lot more than regular M&Ms. Again, I like the crunch. The peanut butter M&Ms are not as good, though I prefer them to the regulars. Dark chocolate M&Ms, if you can find them, are a fine revisionist invention, however.

7. Three Musketeers: Before there were mini Three Musketeers was there anything better on Halloween than getting one of those big, thick Three Musketeers bars? Not in my estimation. The minis, however, seem paltry and insignificant.

8. Butterfingers: Butterfingers have always just left me cold. They're simply not very interesting tasting. They're crunchy and sweet, but I need something more in a candy bar to get me excited.

9. Hershey Combo Pack and Kisses: I like the Hershey's Special Dark a lot, followed by the regular Hershey bar with almonds and trailing by a considerable margin the regular Hershey bar. Again my preference for dark chocolate explains all. The allure of Hershey's Kisses has always escaped me. Many people love them, and I accept that.

10. Nestle's Crunch: I know many people lurve Nestle's Crunch bars, but I find myself curiously unmoved by them. To me they lack a clear chocolate taste.

11. Kraft caramels: My friends and I always thought anybody who gave out Kraft caramels was cheap. Plus, they're not the greatest caramels in the world and they stick to your teeth.

12. Goobers and Raisinets: Though both would be considerably better if they were made with dark chocolate, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Goobers and Raisinets.

13. Apples and raisins: A freshly picked, still firm, good local apple is a good treat in theory, but the razor blade scare makes giving away apples moot. And can we all agree not to give out those little boxes of rock-hard raisins? Halloween's once a year; let the kids have a good time. We had a smart neighbor who told her kids that they could eat as much candy as they could in the 24 hours after Halloween but after that she was either throwing it out or giving it away. The idea of kids having their Halloween stash sitting around for weeks so they can dig in at will makes absolutely no sense to me.

Candy corn, chocolate ice cubes, candy peanuts, and generic hard candies are patently unacceptable. To me they show a lack of respect for trick-or-treaters everywhere.

So if you want to make serious kid eaters happy when they ring your doorbell, you know what you have to do. It's not too late. You still have time.

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