Snickers and Milky Way bars are all well and good, but what other candies are deserving of some Halloween love? From Lion Bars and Whoppers to Airheads and Nerds, we've got our eyes on quite a few. Here's what we've been hoarding for October 31.
Inside its chocolate coating, Watchamacallit houses what can ONLY be described as a shattered constellation of peanut butter shards and crisp rice puffs, drifting on an oozing river of caramel in a delicate chocolate embrace.
Chewy, chocolatey, crunchy, crunchy is right! What you'll find is a nice, crisp texture that takes the melt-in-your-mouth route—none of that glom-onto-your-teeth business. It's just Rice Cripsyish enough to give good crunch; just Butterfingery enough to deliver that flaky, faintly peanut butter-tinged nutty, salty-sweetness; just caramel-y enough to reassure you that it's not healthy. And yeah, it's coated in that weird Hershey's fake-chocolate chocolate, which we maybe shouldn't like, but totally love.
Goldenberg's Peanut Chews
The Peanut Chew is old-timey done right: roasted peanuts are suspended in thick, chewy caramel, then coated in surprisingly good, crisp dark chocolate. Consider it, if you will, a grownup Snickers: all the essentials with none of that nougat mishegas to get in the way. The flavor is darker, roastier, more intensely caramel, and yes, we'll say it, plain better than a Snickers (if less salty). Send your lynch mobs if you must.
Toblerone Crunchy Salted Almond
Toblerone may have finally outdone Symphony, an old favorite, with their new variant, which includes not only chunks of almonds, but chunks of salted caramelized almonds. They're not quite as salted as we'd like them to be—eat through the chocolate quickly and you may even completely miss the salt—but if you let the creamy milk chocolate slowly melt on your tongue, you'll be rewarded with chunks of salty almond and nuggets of nougat (It's really fun to say "nuggets of nougat"). It ain't world-class chocolate by any means, but it's got enough of that sweet-salty-creamy thing going on to hit you in just the right way.
Peanut Butter M&Ms
Peanut M&M's tend to be too savory and dry, nut-filled in a way that doesn't really feel like candy. But Peanut Butter M&M's are as sweet as can be, filled with buttery, creamy peanut-butter that's almost more icing than nut paste. These aren't anemic Reeses Pieces; they're chubby little guys with a generous amount of stuffing. It's most fun to see how long the outer coating takes to dissolve on your tongue, resisting biting in as the candy fades from smooth to sandpapery to smooth again, and the creamy peanut butter interior is a better reward for your patience than plain old waxy chocolate.
Sour Patch Kids
Put Sour Patch Kids in front of us, and we'll eat them until they're all gone (or we've passed out—whichever comes first). But suck off the sour sandy coating and you may find that they taste remarkably similar to Swedish Fish. Guess what: they're the exact same candy, simply pumped into a different mold and finished with a sour coating. If somebody were to sell bags of the sour coating that collects on the bottom of a pack of Sour Patch kids, we'd buy it. Just think of how many foods and candies could be improved by a sprinkling of it!
The most endearing part of a Junior Mint may just be the little divots on the back of each candy. They balance so perfectly on the tip of your finger. And the chocolate shell isn't too stiff, so it melds and collapses into the creamy mint center. Sure, the chocolate's nothing fancy, but it's just an accent, really. And a challenge...
Try slowly shaving the chocolate off the circumference of each mint with your teeth, then attempting to remove just the top and bottom layers of the chocolate shell. Anyone else ever do that? It's one way to make an overpriced box of Junior Mints last through an entire movie. Or, well, at least half a movie.
Time Out is manufactured by Cadbury Ireland, which means it may be trickier to find in the US. But that definitely doesn't mean you shouldn't try! One package usually includes two narrow bars consisting of a milk chocolate ripple sandwiched between two wafers, all covered in Dairy Milk chocolate, or as its original slogan states, "the wafer break with a layer of Flake." Basically, it's one of Cadbury's best products covered in another. What's not to love?
Sure enough, it's a solid candy bar—you might think of it as an improved take on a Kit Kat. And for a chocolate bar that's ostensibly supposed to be an indulgence, it's also incredibly light; we could easily eat several in one sitting and may or may not have done so.
Airheads are a severely underrated candy in our opinion. There's the texture, for one, delightfully chewy but not jaw-breaking. More pliable than Now & Laters but still too thick to just chomp down, they have some longevity (but wouldn't pull off your braces back in the day). They're weirdly slick but end up a little bit grainy as you chew them, in a way we actually find really appealing. Despite being mostly sugar, they don't taste like it; most of the flavors are at least a little bit tart. They're in great flavors like cherry and blue raspberry--and then, of course, there's the White Mystery. What flavor is it? Are they all the same? Is it one of the existing flavors or something else altogether? (We don't have the answers, but if you do, PLEASE TELL US!)
The key to Chunky lies in the name—the chunk. The height and heft of the bar creates a satisfying feeling when you sink your teeth into it. The milk chocolate sort of crumbles, offering the occasional surprise of salty peanuts and raisins, which adds a pleasant texture. Rock on, you crazy little chunk of goodness.
Ah, the malty miracles that are Whoppers. Their perfect balance between malty-crisp center and subtle milk chocolate shell wins us over every time. Their adorable, miniature size holds promises of more candy per box, and the exhilarating consequences of a major sugar overload. But we've never really been swayed by the various iterations of Whoppers that have cropped up since, from unnaturally pink strawberry milkshake flavored, to the disappointing highly anticipated Reese's peanut butter version. We want classic malt all the way.
The first question that comes up when discussing Swedish Fish is: Large or small? Followed by: Assorted or reds? The answer: Reds.
Variety is great, but there's something so satisfying about having all the ones you would have picked out already wrangled together in one package. The I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it flavor of the red fish (we've heard rumors that it's lingonberry) is so elusively delicious. Why bother with the more predictable greens, yellows, and oranges?
In the gummy candy class, Swedish Fish are some of the quickest to dissolve. Large fish can become a little unmanageable when they get to the chewy phase, leaving behind lots of tooth cling-ons, but small ones make a smooth transformation from slightly rigid to a soft and pliable satisfyingly gummy chew without too much jaw work. The trick is to use some friction to catch and work the fish between the roof of the mouth and tongue, smoothing the rigged detail of the embossed candy to a flat, stretchy, and sticky diminished version of itself.
It's tough to explain why Sno-Caps are so mind-bogglingly delicious. What's so special about semi-sweet chocolate chips covered in little white round sprinkles? As it turns out, it's all about the texture. Chocolate chips can definitely hold their own, but there's something magical that happens when tiny crunchy sprinkles are added to the mix. And just when the fun is over, you discover the fallen soldiers hiding in wait at the bottom of the box.
The best thing about Sour Skittles is that they aren't even that sour! Nowhere near the pucker-level of Sour Patch Kids or Warheads, unless you decide to suck the sugar off the outside and not eat the candy. But who wants to do that? Weirdo.
Instead, if you bite into a handful of these candies you'll get a nice fizzy, sparkly feeling and flavor, in addition to the fruitiness. Which fruits exactly? It's not so easy to pick a favorite flavor—it's our understanding that you have to taste the whole rainbow.
Did anyone else feel especially proud of themselves for surviving the inferno-mouth that came with Atomic Fireballs? Or maybe you're so tough, these were nothing. Ha, you call that hot? Well, yes. Admittedly, these made some of us cry circa fifth grade, when the goal was to keep 'em in your mouth until it dissolved, without your face melting off.
Eventually that happened. It took practice; dedication. Now we can pop one, no problem. No water cool-off breaks, even. (Did anyone else dip them in water to dilute the spiciness?)
As far as modern chocolate bars go, Nestlé Crunch is rather plain. Have you ever seen someone at a store choose a Crunch bar over a chocolate hybrid, like Twix, or something with a cutesy presentation, like Hershey's Kisses?
Yet there they are, in every bag of Halloween minis. And as long as we're talking about what we haven't seen, it's someone being disappointed to eat a mini Crunch. They're not Sweetarts for God's sake.
Nestlé Crunch bars have a delightful crisp rice pop in every bite of creamy milk chocolate. There's a lot to be said for what texture can add to a dish, and crispy chocolate is simply fun to eat. It could be our imagination, but the crisped rice even seems to add a subtle toasty flavor and a welcome depth to the otherwise straightforward, sugary chocolate.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a See's Lollypop? Answer us that, Mr. Owl. Because it's not a one.. a two-hoo.. a tha-three.. in this case. Unlike other lollypops, the See's version is pretty un-bite-able, and it'll take more like two hundred licks to get anywhere near the center stick.
The lolly blocks are so dense with sweet, lickable flavor, most people need a break before finishing a whole one. Just be sure to never throw away the shiny wrapper—it's essential to rest on during the lolly intermissions, when the overworked salivary glands need some downtime.
Life Savers don't necessarily taste better than other fruit-flavored hard candies, but they're more fun because they have a hole in the middle. Toroidal shape = INSTANT FUN FOR YOUR MOUTH (or for your tongue, at least). We also like peeling away the foil roll packaging little by little to reveal each piece. Life Savers also come in individually wrapped packaging, but where's the fun in that? No fun. No fun at all.
Rarely does packaging look as fierce (pun fully intended) as the Lion wrapper, which boasts a roaring lion and aggressively large, boldly colored font. But looks alone do not a great candy bar make! We're also drawn to Lion's contents: a caramel-filled wafer covered with a layer of crisp cereal and coated with milk chocolate. The inner layer of cereal around the wafer does slightly resemble a lion's mane.
Taste-wise, Lion is reminiscent of a Twix bar covered in cereal. There's a lot going on in this bar—plenty of varied texture and flavor so you don't get bored eating it. The cereal's ultra-crispy, which makes crunching down fun and noisy, always a plus in our book. Also, the packaging is still some of the best we've ever seen.
Why are Nerds more fun than most other candies? Because there are two flavors in a box! It's like getting twice the candy! And since each piece is tiny, it's like getting twice the amount of a lot of candy. Few other candies match the satisfaction that comes with pouring a pile of brightly colored nubbly pellets into your palm and shoving it all in your mouth at once for a wallop of sweet, sour, crunchy goodness (that's how we eat them, at least).
Let's talk about Reese's Cups, the most iconic of chocolate/peanut butter combos. We love them with a desperate passion and it seems fair to say they're one of the most beloved candy bars of all time. Now let's talk about Kit Kats. Everyone loves those crispy, irresistible little bars that you eat layer by layer or crunch away at all at once. And now let's talk about a combination of the two. Add in the enviable 2-bar format of Twix and you have Reese's Sticks, the perfect candy bar.
Bold claim, you say? You take one bite of that crispy wafer covered in velvety milk chocolate and layered with the oh-so-distinctive taste of Reese's peanut butter and get back to us.
Just thinking about these super-tart candies can still make our mouths pucker—the googly-eyed, disoriented-looking cartoon guy on the wrapper pretty much sums it up. They're powerfully, intensely sour on first taste, scrunching your face up instantly, and making your eyes water if you try to fight the face-scrunch. Apparently, they're coated in malic acid, within which there's a totally unremarkable hard candy. As for flavor? Like 18-year-olds with alcohol, it's nothing to do with taste and everything to do with sensation (and proving your mettle).
It's sort of like eating good Sichuan food—the sheer rush of heat, then the calming numbness that convinces you that you want the heat again. Warheads give you that sour hit and then a candy that's dull enough that you find yourself going back for another fix.
What's hiding in your Halloween cupboard?