If you are confused as to why a holiday themed article is actually early, well, don’t be. This is actually last year’s Halloween article. Well, no, but it wouldn’t be too surprising. Either a month after the fact or a month before, the timing isn’t quite there yet. But you can’t blame me for celebrating it early. I work in a mall; it’s been Halloween time since June.
My main goal here is to keep your house from getting covered in eggs, shaving cream, Silly String, or whatever else high school dickheads are trying to pass off as a legitimate costume. You won’t have to risk this if you can avoid certain Halloween pitfalls, by paying attention to one or both of the following lists.
The lists are based on opposite ends of the candy giving spectrum. One focuses on the best candy you can give out on Halloween, and the other focuses on the worst. The premise is that, ideally, you will follow the good list, and become a hero in your neighborhood.
I know this won’t happen with everyone, for a few reasons. The main reason is that most people are lazy and lack creativity. Because of this, almost everyone goes to the supermarket, buys the first thing they see from the big display, and that’s the end of it. This is why kids wind up with mostly the same four or five types of candy. The worst offender when it comes to being offered by almost every house is Snickers, the most overrated candy ever.
Snickers isn’t the only one to blame, others include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Skittles, and even the noble 3 Musketeers bar. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, these are all good types of candy. I can even see there being some reason for the popularity of Snickers, but the inexplicably large amounts of praise it gets baffles me. Point being, a big part of the fun of Trick or Treating is the variety of candy it results in. Even a kid has the money to buy a big bag of fun size candy bars, so coming home at the end of Halloween night with mostly the same candy sucks. I would rather come home with fifty different types of candy that I somewhat like than five types of candy that I really like. Variety.
Now you see that you should avoid buying these types of candy. These are the New York Yankees of candy, where there isn’t anything technically wrong with them, they’re just everywhere and you are completely sick of hearing about them.
In order to help your purchasing decisions, I have compiled a list of the best possible types of candy you can give away to kids. These candies are the perfect combination of being awesome by themselves, but combine that with the fact that they are less common means they are awesome in bold faced type.
10) Fruit flavored Tootsie Rolls
These are the bastard sons of the more popular chocolate Tootsie Roll. I think what I like best about them is how revolting they initially seem. When you see the sort-of-recognizable shape of a Tootsie Roll, you know what they feel and taste like. That taste is, unless you’ve been eating some bootleg candy, chocolate. And the texture is, unless you buy your candy at National Wholesale Liquidators, chewy. Given this, the idea of a fruit flavored Tootsie Roll is disturbing. It actually doesn’t sound that bad the way I described it, so take whatever disturbed notion reading that gave you and multiply it by six.
These are the candies that always rescue me in Target when I am looking for candy to sneak into the movie theatre. I see all of the typical candy, then I start browsing through the 99 cent bags of candy, where I spot them. Unfortunately, it is a tough decision as to whether or not I should actually buy them, because they include the vanilla flavor. The chocolate and fruit Tootsie Rolls are great, but the vanilla is awful. And there are always a lot of vanillas mixed into the bags, so I have to make the brave decision to actually purchase the bag. Apparently, they make variety bags that have only the fruit flavors, but I have yet to witness this. If you do buy these to give out on Halloween, be nice and just throw the vanilla ones out. Unless you like them, in which case eat them instead of giving or throwing them away. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
I still have no idea where the name comes from. Granted, they do come in a roll, but then it would be Rollos. Whatever, it’s probably some European thing. What I do know is that Rolos are terribly underappreciated, except by myself. I appreciate them at exactly the right level.
8) Sugar Babies
They are basically condensed pellets of pure sugar. Why would anyone assume kids aren’t going to want to eat these? They say they’re caramels, but that’s a lie. It’s just brown sugar. Which is basically what caramel is, but it doesn’t matter. Sugar Babies are one of the very few candies that I really can only eat a little at a time of. Sure, I can only eat about a handful before I start to get excruciating headaches from the sugar rush, but that handful is delicious.
7) Moon Pies / Little Debbie Cakes
I understand that these technically aren’t candies, but whoever you give them to won’t be complaining. To give you an example, I can point out the exact house in the town I grew up in that gave away Moon Pies, despite the fact that I haven’t lived there in over a decade. Hell, I don’t even like Moon Pies that much. However, the very concept of that house giving out something so big means I will always remember that house.
And Little Debbie Cakes, come on, I just can’t get enough of that white trash goodness. They come in all sorts of different varieties, although they mostly boil down to cream sandwiches and frosted yellow cake pastries. Sure, they’re not high cuisine, but then again, neither is Twix. And Little Debbies are about ten times as big as a Twix. Advantage: Debbie.
Dots are one of those candies where every time you see them in the store you think, “They still make those? Huh.” Then you proceed to not buy them. But you should. The chewy texture of Dots isn’t like Starburst, where you worry that your fillings are getting pulled out. Rather, they have the texture where you know you will be picking little pieces of them out of your teeth for the rest of the day. I see that as a good thing. Usually, when I get candy, I wolf it down with no regards to my candy desires later on. This way, I can eat Dots as fast as I want, and I’ll still be able to find a little more to enjoy later.
5) Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s Pieces are the younger, cooler brother of the Peanut Butter Cup. Even though I think the pieces have been around longer. I don’t actually know. And there’s no father, so that analogy sucked. The pieces had their moment in the spotlight when they were in ET, but it’s been pretty much downhill since then. The Peanut Butter Cups have achieved very high popularity, like I mentioned earlier. There have been several variations, from crunchy to white chocolate, and many others in between. As for the pieces, they have remained essentially unchanged all these years. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since they used to be great, and since they remained unchanged, that still means they’re great. Unfortunately, the pieces get jerked around every Halloween. Hardly anyone gives them away, and that’s garbage; Reese’s Pieces deserve glory and accolades, or at least purchase and distribution.
4) Those Orange and Black Peanut Butter Flavored Chews
There are a few variations of these, although I recently found out that there are Mary Jane based ones, which seem to be the most widely available. Don’t let the fact that they’re made by the crap producing Necco fool you; Mary Janes are hardcore. Mary Janes are another old school candy that has continued to kick ass for decades. They have also slowly become less and less popular, to the point where you can only buy them for $6.40 for a half a pound, or in one of those “classic” candy catalogs that sell Blackjack gum. So apparently Mary Janes got fed up with this nonsense, and just said, to hell with it. Mary Janes knew they were great, and they didn’t need anyone’s approval. So for Halloween they didn’t even come dressed in their traditional wrapper with that little girl on it. They simply threw on some ratty black and orange wax paper, and said here’s my awful costume; we can’t afford a better one because all of you bastards neglect to buy us. Besides the fact that the wrappers are very plain, they also tend to be very loose. This always gives it that mysterious “possibly poisoned” appearance, which is always a hit with rebellious children, who whip them out of their plastic pumpkins and eat them in front of their horrified parents.
3) Popcorn Balls
I don’t understand why popcorn balls aren’t more popular. They are a fairly traditional Halloween treat. Even though they are also traditionally homemade, there are a fair amount of mass produced popcorn balls. The ones I bought are made by Act II, which is a company that I am familiar with from the eleven hundred bags of their product that my family purchases at BJs. Maybe they aren’t popular because they aren’t as nutritionally empty as most Halloween candy. They’ve even got fiber. This is the Heart Healthy choice for 2004. There are very few things a child will get on Halloween that will keep them regular. Increase those odds; give out popcorn balls.
2) Red Licorice Pipes
These things are flat out bad ass. First of all, it’s a pipe that you can eat; you don’t see that too often. And as everyone already knows, pipes are inherently cool. This candy is also very old school, they’re another one that you don’t see except in good candy stores or catalogs. You can, however, buy them in bulk from catalogs, and they’re not too expensive at all. Do not, DO NOT confuse these with their nefarious evil twin: The Black Licorice Pipe. NO. Black licorice, and there can be no arguing on this point, is the single most vile flavor that has ever existed. I have actually known people who LIKE this flavor. Normally, if someone likes something that I don’t, I just think well they can eat it, I sure as hell don’t want it. But when someone tells me they enjoy black licorice, the only reaction that can occur is to tell them no. No, you are wrong. You don’t like that flavor. There is no conceivable way that a flavor like that is slipping past your taste buds undetected. And there is no way in hell that those taste buds are giving any sort of approval. The absolute animosity towards black licorice can actually work in your favor if you do choose to give out the red pipes. A kid will see it, and say, ugh, I got a black licorice pipe. But then, when the pipe’s true color is revealed, it is a complete one eighty into the realm of total delight.
1) Any Full Sized Candy Bar
No matter where you grew up, what neighborhoods you went Trick or Treating in, or anything like that, you have been given at least one full sized candy bar on Halloween. It might have been a Snickers bar, a Kit Kat bar, or even something as below average as a 5th Avenue bar, it doesn’t matter. The strain in your pumpkin arm let you know that whatever was just dropped in there had some impressive weight. Then, when what just happened sinks in, you are instantly placed into a state of sheer elation. This is why you should take it upon yourself to be a role model to the children in your neighborhood. You can change lives by buying your Halloween candy at BJs, by buying the full sized bars. Because once you give these away, people will know that you are not the type of person that should be messed with. If you have the confidence to wield such large pieces of candy on Halloween, who knows what you are capable of? Total awesomeness, that’s what.
Runners up: Bit O Honey, Gobstoppers (not the chewy variety), and Bottle Caps.
And, as with any great Best Of list, there must be a Worst Of list. It is preferable to avoid the middle of the pack candies, and stick to the best candies that I already listed, but that probably won’t happen. So, at the very least, avoid giving away any of these atrocities.
10) Johnny Apple Treats
Johnny is part of an awesome line of candy that includes Alexander the Grape, Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, and Atomic Fireballs. Johnny, unlike the other kinds, just didn’t have a whole lot going for him. First of all, he’s apple, which is almost always a recipe for disaster. The rule of thumb for apple candies is simple… they suck. They even tried replacing flavors of Skittles, Starburst, and other candies with apple, but luckily that failed in most instances. Apparently the candy’s name has been changed, and it is now called Apple Heads. They can change their name, but they can’t erase their shameful past.
9) Candy Cigarettes
I’m not going to get into the stupid “candy cigarettes encourage kids to smoke,” argument, because it’s utter nonsense. If anything, all it teaches kids is to settle for ass crack quality candy. These sticks come in a variety of boxes, but for some reason the most common ones around Halloween come in a Popeye box. A cartoon character that hasn’t been relevant for decades, used to promote a wretched candy. That is one hell of a recipe for success. Another problem with candy cigarettes is that they stole the glory from the better faux cigarette, cigarette gum. They had the paper wrapper, and when you blew through them, a puff of “smoke” would come out. They were amazing. Candy cigarettes taste like a Fun Dip stick that you found under your bed.
8) Plain M&Ms
Why do people still give these out? I don’t see why these are offered at all. It’s like selling Lucky Charms without marshmallows. Sure, it would still taste decent, but why would you eat it when there is an infinitely superior version right next to it on the shelf? I am not saying which M&M version is the best, I’m simply saying which one is the worst. It is “plain,” in case you’re not paying attention.
7) McDonalds Gift Certificates
I had trouble deciding whether these were a really good thing to give away, or a really bad thing. On the plus side, it is a change of pace, it’s something other than candy, and it’s almost like getting money. On the negative side, you don’t get anything right then, plus you have to go to a McDonalds to redeem them. Also, they’re never for anything anyone would want; they are always for children’s sundaes or McDonald Land cookies. They should make Boston Market Halloween gift certificates, redeemable for one small side of mashed potatoes. I’d give those out.
6) Necco Wafers
These are known the world over as being disgusting, and they were such an obvious choice that I wasn’t even going to put them on this list. Then, on a recent trip to Waldbaums, I saw that they were selling “fun size” Necco Wafers. This, I will not stand for. My earliest memory of Necco Wafers was when I was on a field trip to the Old Bethpage Restoration, and one of the fake colonial people was talking to us about horses. He said how when the horses were good, he would give them one of “these,” then pulled a stick of them out of his pocket. He let us try one, and I was somehow able to find a candy that I had no interest in ever eating again. Don’t give horse candy to children on Halloween; although I do recommend keeping a small pack in your pocket. That way, when you are eating a good type of candy, such as a stick of Chewy Spree, and someone asks you for a piece, just slip a Necco Wafer out of your pocket and give one to them. This will possibly stop them from ever asking for more candy.
5) Milky Ways
While there certainly are worse tasting candies than Milky Ways, they always remain one of the great disappointments. The fact that they’re not bad makes the situation worse. It’s got the caramel, nougat, and chocolate. It sounds like a good combination, but it fails. First of all, ditch the caramel. Caramel sucks. If you rid Milky Ways of the caramel, you would get a 3 Musketeers bar. That would be an enormous improvement, but it probably wouldn’t make much business sense to release two of the exact same products. Or you could say, even though you would be wrong, that caramel doesn’t suck. Fine, but you’d still need to add something else, to get rid of the texture blandness. You could add peanuts, but then you would have Snickers. So I guess we have to leave the Milky Way bar alone. And that’s why it gets classified as “candy I would never buy from a vending machine, unless the only other choices were Beechnut gum, Lotsa Fizz, and Chuckles.”
Basically, these are plain lollipops, which are lame to begin with, with a “safety” handle. Instead of a regular stick, the handle is a loop. First of all, anyone that isn’t physically capable of using a normal handle probably shouldn’t be eating hard candy. It’s a choking hazard, and a poor candy choice for impatient youngsters. They’re likely to chip a tooth. Plus it ruins the whole Riverdale bad ass look of having a lollipop in your mouth, with the lump in your cheek and the stick poking out.
3) Good and Plenty
Man, talk about one of your all time misnomers. I can officially say that “Good” is way down at the bottom of the list of words I would use to describe this candy. “Plenty,” well, they got that right, since there will be plenty of this crap left over once they realize it tastes like black licorice. The packaging is fairly devious as well. Usually, when a candy is black licorice flavored, it is plastered everywhere, giving fair warning to all consumers. The Good and Plenty package has “licorice candy” written in purple ink… on a purple box.
And at least most black licorice candies have the decency to not hang out in the good candy section, and usually sticks to the weird movie theatre candy, or in the 99 cent bags. Good and Plenty has the audacity to sit right next to the likes of Mamba and Twizzlers. Although Twizzlers is guilty of making a black licorice version, but at least with them, there is no mistaking what is inside. Speaking of Good and Plenty, when the hell did they stop making Good and Fruity? Those were delicious. Stupid candy companies always canceling the wrong product.
Yes, I know, this isn’t even close to being candy. It doesn’t matter. Everyone has gotten repeated doses of pennies, and no matter how many times it happens, it never gets any easier. You never get numb to the fact that some wretched neighbor has put so little effort into Halloween that they are reduced to giving out whatever they have in their pocket at the time, or digging from their giant Poland Spring bottle full of change. I had a neighbor that would carefully measure out a teaspoon of pennies to give to me. She couldn’t even make it a tablespoon? And for those of you thinking, hey it might seem like just pennies, but those pennies add up. No, they don’t. The amount of time you waste waiting for someone to distribute the pennies, you are wasting valuable time that could be used to collect legitimate candy from more respectable households.
Pennies also represent a dangerous trend. Once pennies becomes accepted as a giveaway, more and more ridiculous crap will flood the Trick or Treating marketplace. People have already attempted to make toothbrushes, activity pads, and spider rings acceptable, and I refuse to allow it. However, once pennies are given the go ahead, these other fringe novelties will be next. And, after that, there is no telling what will come next. In ten years, we will be a nation reduced to accepting AOL CDs, hotel soap bars, and empty cans for the bottle deposit. I am not having any of that. I am thinking of a way to combine the two lamest elements of Halloween, and turn them into a force of good. If you are given pennies, just disperse them all over the house’s walkway. This can be a new international sign for the shaving cream kids that this particular house needs a healthy spray of Barbasol. Spread the word.
1) Circus Peanuts
Do they even give these away on Halloween? I don’t actually know. It doesn’t matter anyway; any list that has the words “worst” and “candy” in it must contain Circus Peanuts. There are so many things wrong with them. First of all, the name is confusing. Actual circus peanuts are, well, peanuts, and even these can go either way. Peanuts are, of course, good, but peanuts still in the shell? Forget it. They’re not worth it. You crack them open and get the peanut shrapnel all over you, then you have to deal with that weird brown skin surrounding the actual peanut. Are you supposed to eat that part? There’s something overtly amniotic about it. Forget peanuts.
The name Circus Peanuts implies something that could be good, but is just too aggravating to be worth it. Even worse, it turns out that Circus Peanuts have nothing to do with anything. They’re just giant orange puffs in the general shape of a peanut. It looks like Mr. Peanut without his exoskeleton. As for the taste, oh man, I can’t even describe them. The taste is equivalent to having splinters shoved under your fingernails while someone stretches the opening of a full balloon, and it’s making that “RHEEEEEEEEEEEEE” noise. And that isn’t even getting into the creepy texture. Ugh, that’s it. I’m through talking about these things. God damned Circus Peanuts. They make me so angry.
Runners up: Sugar Daddy, gummy hamburgers, anything banana.
Special thanks to Adam Geller for making the title graphics, if left to my own devices, they would have been made in MS Paint.