Celebrating fall in the 21st century involves two rituals unknown to previous generations. The first is cramming pumpkin spice into any consumable bit of matter, be it lattes, muffins, or antidepressants. The second is ranking the various candies that people typically hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
The latest writer to undertake this task is Kelly Conaboy of The Cut. How respectable is Conaboy’s list? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, critiquing someone’s ranking of Halloween candy is a fool’s errand. Each palate is different, taste is subjective, and our preference for various treats is often driven more by personalized nostalgia than quality of candy. A hearty dose of respect, therefore, is due to everyone voicing an opinion on the matter.
On the other hand, everyone who disagrees with me about things like this is wrong, bad, and in need of public rebuke, including Kelly “I Make Bad Lists” Conaboy. So here is the correct ranking of Halloween candies.
30. Candy Corn
Miserable, wretched, sorrow-flavored wax triangles of death. May a thousand rolls of Charmin drape the homes of those who pass these out to neighborhood children.
29. Tootsie Rolls
If you want all the tooth decay and none of the flavor, Tootsie Rolls are the candy for you.
The perfect option for those who love tasting chocolate, savoring malt, and chewing sandpaper.
On Oct. 31, little boys get to be wizards and superheroes. Little girls get to be princesses and fairies. The joy of Halloween is that, for one day, we all get to be something far more magical than our regular selves. Because of this, Raisinets are the perfect thing to pass out on Halloween because they’re basically vitamins pretending to be candy. On the other hand, don’t pass out Raisinets, because chocolate-covered raisins are gross.
26. Sour Patch Kids
25. Mike and Ike
The Mikes are decent but the Ikes leave much to be desired.
The best of the sweets stash that will still be hanging around in late November.
23. Plain M&Ms
The candy of choice for those who lack the capacity for self-improvement.
When distributed by your local barber after a haircut in 1986, amazing. When distributed by your neighbors on Halloween, meh.
One of history’s great tragedies is that Twizzlers managed to best the vastly superior Red Vines for the title of America’s Favorite Red Licorice. That’s a gentle reminder that democracy cannot survive when handled by an immoral and godless people.
20. Crunch, Krackel, Crispy M&Ms
Stretching your dollar by dumping buckets of surplus rice into vats of bland milk chocolate is some depression-era nonsense that we need to stop perpetuating.
19. 3 Musketeers
If these stopped existing tomorrow, it would take you 30 years to notice. It’s the Delaware of candy bars.
18. Milky Way
Still boring but slightly superior to the 3 Musketeers: The Rhode Island of candy bars.
17. Kit Kat
Pros: crunchy, delicious. Cons: promotes communism.
The greatest candy in the Petrified Muppet Boogers genus.
Of all the paths to a root canal, this is the most colorful.
14. Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
Hershey’s chocolate is the Joe Namath of the candy world. You understand its historical significance, and you get why your grandpa gets all nostalgic talking about it. But there’s nothing special about it for those who have grown up with the myriad indisputably superior options.
13. Candy Necklaces
As candy, lame. As jewelry, glorious. Give me that rainbow-colored sticky neck.
12. Milk Duds
Delicious. Even tastier three days later when they’re still clinging to your molars.
11. Mounds and Almond Joy
Coconut is a divisive delicacy. Many people love it. Others are anti-Polynesian bigots. These coco-choco logs are great.
One of Halloween’s most entertaining games is “Starburst Fortunetelling.” It’s easy to play. Just peel open a fun-size two-pack. If it’s a yellow piece and a red piece, you’re going to find true love. If it’s a pink and a red, you’re going to find fortune. If it’s two orange pieces, a demon is going to eat your head because you’re obviously cursed.
Never your first choice but always a reliable backup. Eating a Twix is the candy bar equivalent of marrying an accountant.
Three cheers for the chefs at Mars, Inc. who designed this classic treasure. Three hundred cheers for the guys in marketing who’ve managed to convince several generations of Americans that eating a Snickers is a sensible hunger-management strategy and not, you know, just another way to shove type 2 diabetes down your gullet.
7. Haribo Gummy Bears
Martin Luther famously kicked off the Reformation when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517. The greatest way to celebrate this accomplishment is to disavow the pope and confess the Book of Concord. The second greatest way is to devour handfuls of translucent ursine chew-balls made by Haribo, the German confectionary company par excellence and undisputed king of gummy bear manufacturing.
6. Jolly Ranchers
The world’s most delicious choking hazard.
5. Reese’s Pieces
Crunchy candy shell, smooth peanut buttery goodness, these little treasures taste like happiness, fun, and sweet, sweet product placement.
4. Peanut M&M’s and Peanut Butter M&M’s
For years, I have swiped every one of these bags out of my kids’ Halloween stash. Worth every penny of family therapy.
3. Razor-blade-stuffed apples
2. 100 Grand
A defiant exception to the “candy bars with rice are garbage” rule, this chocolate, caramel, and crispy rice confection is the greatest rectangular candy bar you’ll find in bowls and bags on All Hallows’ Eve.
1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Pure and perfect, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the second greatest thing about Halloween.
The greatest thing, of course, is listening to braying fundamentalists tell you that your daughter is participating in an ancient pagan ritual and worshiping demons by dressing up as a Disney princess who wasn’t invented until 1,500 years after the last Druid priest converted to Christianity.