On this all-important American holiday, Tim and Josh decided to dive into one of their tastiest debates: candy. So give them a break while they chew it over with Twix, avoid laying a finger on each other’s Butterfinger, and taste the rainbow. You may find that first they’re sour, then they’re sweet.
TIM: Well, it’s Halloween, Josh, and that can only mean one thing. Well, it means one thing at our age, and a different, more innocent thing when we were younger: candy. You have to hand it to whoever decided this was how Halloween would be celebrated, with little kids prancing around the neighborhood in costumes collecting mass quantities of candy. But of course, we’re greedy as kids, and there’s a definitive candy hierarchy, with certain candies frowned upon (Mary Janes, anyone?) and others received enthusiastically. So Josh, what candy were you most excited to get on Halloween as a kid, and has that changed at all since?
JOSH: Well, first, let me say that the main appeal of Halloween for me is still candy. When else can I go to CVS and have an option of purchasing more than ten bags of candy that each combine at least three different individual candies? Second, if there’s one video to link to on Halloween and candy, it’s this one. To answer your question, as a kid, I was most excited for sour candies, namely Sour Patch Kids. If you went to three houses, you’d almost be guaranteed one of those mini-Twix or Snickers bars, so chocolate bars were in high supply. But, you don’t see those mini-packs of Sour Patch Kids frequently, so, when I did stumble upon them, I tended to freak out a little. I still think sour candy is in undersupply on Halloween and Sour Patch Kids are the pinnacle of sour candy, so I’d venture to say I feel the same today as I did as a kid. Except now, I could just buy a jumbo pack of Sour Patch Kids at the store; eating them unsupervised, though, does present an issue. What about your favorite? And, do kids in New Jersey really prance around the streets?
TIM: What’s the deal with you and sour candies? And what else was there besides Sour Patch Kids? I remember Sour Skittles and Sour Patch Straws coming along later. And don’t just throw Twix and Snickers into the same category; just because they contain chocolate doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. Twix is infinitely better than Snickers.
Are Sour Patch Kids that food for you that you can’t eat unsupervised because you simply can’t stop yourself? (It’s popcorn for me, with several disastrous historical examples to point to.) And yes, New Jersey children are much, much happier than LI ones.
JOSH: Well, different types of sour tape/belts started getting popular when we were children. Other sour candies: Warheads (which no longer exist?), sour punch (probably the worst sour candy of them all), sour gummy worms, Sweet Tarts. But, it’s true: there are not as many sour candies as there are chocolate candies; hence, the novelty of them appearing in Halloween baskets. Good sour candies are full of flavor in a way that something like a Twix or a Snickers (You can’t stop me from conflating them) whose main ingredient is bland milk chocolate just can’t be; they dominate your mouth: just compare a watermelon-flavored sucking candy to a watermelon Sour Patch Kid; the latter extracts the maximum out of the watermelon flavor. Of course, there’s something subjective about the sour taste that appeals to me, so perhaps you are not lucky enough to experience that subjective sensation.
And, yes, I can’t stop myself from eating Sour Patch Kids. Often when I’m feeling uncomfortably full, to make myself feel better, I think whether I could eat Sour Patch Kids if they were put in front of me and the answer is almost always yes. I feel better because, if I can eat something else, I can’t be THAT full!
|A friend of the blog, who by sheer coincidence is named John S — seriously, it’s a different one, whom we shall now call John S II — is a long-avowed devotee of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. We’ve invited him to tell us why.|
|Sitting in religion class my sophomore year of high school was the last place I expected to learn about the intricate philosophy that went into the making a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
My teacher explained it simply: “One day a guy says, ‘I like chocolate.’ Another guys says, ‘I like peanut butter.’ Then, we have Reese’s.”
Really, outside of those among us who suffer from the terrible epidemic that is peanut allergies, who can’t agree with that statement? That is what makes Reese’s, specifically the peanut butter cup, so great.
So many aspects of the peanut butter cup make it the ideal treat for any time of year.
The way it is shaped like a crown to indicate its reign over the rest of candy. The varying consistencies of peanut butter one might find inside the cup to keep the eater guessing each time they bite into one.
The little bit of chocolate that remains after removing the cup from its delicate wrapping. Honestly, who doesn’t love scrapping that off to get the extra bit of peanut butter and chocolate you might have missed the first time when nobody else is looking?
Also, think of the freedom that a peanut butter cup presents us with. They say, “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s,” and I am a staunch believer in that.
Our country was built on this concept, and it’s only right that its best treat follows that same principle. Not to knock other candies, but are there really different ways to eat t a Hershey’s bar or a Snickers or even M&M’s? I say…no.
There are also multiple options to get a little variety in the peanut butter cups as the year progresses. There are hearts for Valentine’s Day, eggs (my personal favorite) for Easter, pumpkins for Halloween, and trees for Christmas (which I saw in Quick Chek recently and whose early appearance I found offensive).
I choose to eat my Reese’s in an extremely non-conventional way, and I cannot be criticized for this because of the freedom I know I am entering into when I take a bite.
In interest of rambling and space limitations, I will end my case for the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with a simple tenant of what makes things better in America. There is not only one peanut butter cup in a package; there are two, and each one is so delicious.
TIM: Warheads no longer exist? That’s terrible news, but not as bad as you calling it “bland milk chocolate.” Now I know you favor dark chocolate; we can’t all be as blessed as I am. But to denigrate milk chocolate as bland? Milk chocolate and caramel mix in a way that can only be described as euphoric.
I do happen to enjoy Sour Watermelon Drops — admittedly not a Halloween candy. But outside of that, sour doesn’t do it for me. Do you actually like all the Sour Patch Kid flavors? Yellow, orange, and green all suck to me (get it?). Further, you can’t possibly use the philosophy you espouse there on fullness, because if you actually did, you’d be morbidly obese. I think you’re supposed to do the opposite: When you’re eating Sour Patch Kids (or in my case, popcorn), ask yourself if you’d still be eating if it were something else. I bet you didn’t expect to be getting dietary advice from me in a post on candy.
JOSH: I don’t think all milk chocolate is bland. There is some excellent milk chocolate out there. It’s just not used in the candies you espouse. Although, I do maintain that the best milk chocolate doesn’t stand a chance against the best dark or even semisweet chocolate. Just in the children’s candy department, the chocolate used in Sno-Caps (semisweet) is vastly better than chocolate used in Twix; hence, there is no need to add more than a few white sprinkly adornments to each candy.
And, yes, I like all Sour Patch flavors, despite the attempts of my peers to get me to stop eating yellow because of that stupid Yellow-6 myth.
TIM: It’s Yellow-5, and it’s REAL!!! (But probably not.)
I’ve always called Sno-Caps Nonpareils, which I realize now is just the “sprinkly adornments.” But what happens when those are colored and not white? What am I supposed to call that candy? IRregardless, Sno-Caps are pretty good. But they’re like the C.J. Wilson to Twix/Milky Way’s Cliff Lee. That may not be the best comparison to make this week.
(And your, “hence, there is no need to add more than a few white sprinkly adornments to each candy” justification of Sno-Caps is poor; I could just as easily defend Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars the same way.)
If the candies I espouse don’t use milk chocolate properly, which ones do?
JOSH: You’ve always called them Nonpareils? My friend Jen and I were always amused by that name; it doesn’t sound like a name that belongs to a candy. And, I totally reject your analogy.
Raisinets use milk chocolate properly. I like to think it’s because they use better chocolate but perhaps it’s just because raisins would be such a lousy candy component by themselves that adding any sort of chocolate to them makes them infinitely better. Did you, like me, initially think Raisinettes were just female raisins?
TIM: I thought Raisinets was a rival band started to compete with the California Raisins. I have also never eaten one.
For me, milk chocolate works great in, as I’ve mentioned, Twix and Milky Ways, but also in Nestle Crunch, Kit-Kats, Butterfingers (which should probably be named after how they get stuck in your teeth), Three Musketeers…. Maybe I just appreciate chocolate on a whole different level than you. I pity you.
What dark chocolate candies do you like, and what do you think is the worst candy
JOSH: Well, there aren’t any candies I know of besides plain dark chocolate bars whose original version includes dark chocolate. But, Milky Way and M&Ms are two particular candies that have introduced a dark chocolate variant. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate is actually very good, in my opinion. And, I like that it has the little gold emblem on the bottom, acknowledging its superiority.
Worst candy is, hands down, Necco Wafers. The pack says “great flavors.” Seriously? I can barely taste anything when I eat those wafers and what I do taste is pungent at best. And they are dusty, a characteristic that does not befit candy. The wafers are different colors yet the different colors all taste the same (this characteristic of different colors tasting the same is generally shared among bad candies, M&Ms excluded). Do you agree? Any other candies that bring out the rancorous side of you?
TIM: I’m with you to a point on Necco Wafers, which every Catholic remembers more as the candy that prepared them for their Holy Communion — and even then, the wafers probably taste better (even if they, too, give off the air of dust).* That said, I can eat Necco Wafers, while there are a long list of candies — those that contain peanuts and coconut and other things I just don’t like — that I will never eat. This is why my least favorite candy is Snickers, because I don’t eat Snickers, and yet roughly one-quarter to one-third of the candy I got every Halloween was Snickers. Like everyone else, I also hate candy corn.
*There’s probably a Philip Pullman joke that nobody will get to be made there.
I personally think the food I’ve eaten that tasted the absolute worst — not just candy, food — was a yellow Sweet Tart. That thing was like soap in my mouth. If we could hold a Candy Conference, my first proposal would be to eliminate yellow flavors from every candy, adding more red instead. I suppose this makes me more of a Soviet communist.
JOSH: Yeah, I agree that yellow flavors tend to be the worst, but I initially thought that was just because of my disfavor for lemon outside of very limited contexts, namely lemonade and italian ice. Lemon on meat or fish just about ruins a dish for me. (Fish, by itself, on the other hand just about ruins the dish for Tim.).
I actually don’t hate candy corn in small doses. I can’t justify why I like it, but it has a unique sweetness that is somewhat pleasant. Spree is a pretty lousy candy too. It’s like a Sweet Tart, which I like, but chewy, which is totally antithetical to the purpose of a Sweet Tart.
Shall we get to ranking?
The 24 Candy-dates for Best Candy in the World, with our expert rankings that agree on almost nothing:
Almond Joy (Tim: 24; Josh: 4)
TIM: Don’t like almonds, so I get no joy from this bar. And what’s the deal with it and Mounds? Why the cooperative advertising? Are they brother and sister?
JOSH: I love coconut and the creamy coconut filling of Almond Joy is excellent. The almond ain’t bad either, but it’s secondary.
Butterfinger (Tim: 8; Josh: 8 )
JOSH: Definitely the most distinctive candy bar. Whatever that crunchy orange filling is, it’s awesome.
TIM: Another unique taste, but the fact that you’re tasting it for the next 15 minutes while trying to clean your teeth doesn’t help matters. Butterfingers are the Now & Laters of chocolate.
JOSH: Now & Laters are awful. I reject Tim’s analogy.
Gobstoppers (Tim: 18; Josh: 6)
TIM: Good to have once every decade, like Fun Dip.
JOSH: God, fun dip is awesome. I love eating the utensil thing after all of the sugar. But, Gobstoppers are an exception to my disfavor of sucking candy. They are one of the most dynamic candies: full of strong flavor that changes. And, they’re everlasting!
TIM: I think everything wrong about your candy philosophy can be summed up by the fact that you “love eating that utensil thing” from Fun Dip.
Hershey’s Chocolate (Tim: 17; Josh: 19)
JOSH: This is just mediocre milk chocolate. Melted in a S’more is its best use.
TIM: I use this mainly as a shaved topping on the marshmallows on top of my hot chocolate. It’s the parsley of candy — there largely for presentation.
Jolly Ranchers (Tim: 11; Josh: 24)
TIM: The only candy bold enough to proactively cut Lemon — if in favor of the not-that-much-better Blue Raspberry — Jolly Ranchers are penalized for damage to the teeth and for occasionally coming in that weird, flat rectangle variety that can’t all fit in your mouth at the same time.
JOSH: This is my Dad’s candy of choice for his office and I never had the heart to tell him how much I dislike them. They are kind of sour in an unpleasant way. And, I disfavor sucking candies as is.
Jujubes (Tim: 21; Josh: 14)
JOSH: Terrible texture. I don’t think I’ve had these in at least ten years.
TIM: And yet they rank this high? Like Twix, Jujubes worked great for a Seinfeld bit. Unlike Twix, they don’t work great in your mouth. Also, these are penalized for only having one “e.”
Kit Kat (Tim: 7; Josh: 10)
TIM: A Halloween staple in my household, Kit Kats should be eaten in a very specific way, where you bite off the chocolate on each end and around the wafers before digging in.
JOSH: That sounds incredibly difficult. I don’t even think I could do that. I tend to just break off a bar and eat one at a time.
TIM: Your lack of creativity is appalling. I bet you eat a Reese’s completely straightforward.
Life Savers (Tim: 2; Josh: 23)
JOSH: I’m fine with lifesavers, but generally sucking candies aren’t that exciting for me. The gratification is kind of delayed and spread out rather than immediate.
TIM: Unorthodox, I know. But nothing in the world is better than a cherry Life Saver. Every time I put one in my mouth, I’m amazed that it tastes even better than I expected.
M&Ms (Tim: 13; Josh: 7)
TIM: Wildly overrated but still pretty good. Like Tony Romo.
JOSH: I equate them more to Thomas Jones. Not unbelievably good, but very solid on a consistent basis.
Milky Way (Tim: 1; Josh 17)
TIM: I don’t know if chocolate tastes better than it does in the form of a frozen Milky Way.
JOSH: Eh. Snickers, Milky Way, what’s the difference?
TIM: You’re off the blog.
Nestle Crunch (Tim: 4; Josh: 11)
JOSH: I like crunch. Hence, ranking this higher than other chocolate bars.
TIM: Simple and different. The best way to eat a Nestle Crunch, of course, is to let the whole thing melt in your mouth until only the crispies are left. Delicious.
Raisinets (Tim: 23; Josh: 16)
JOSH: This is my mix-it-up candy. Also, one of my favorite box designs.
TIM: I’ve never eaten them, but I could.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Tim: 12; Josh: 2)
TIM: Contrary to popular belief (cough, John S II), they’re just the poor man’s Reese’s Pieces.
JOSH: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are Greg Maddux in his prime and Reese’s Pieces are Rick Reed. Real peanut butter but a little saltier combined with chocolate = one of, if not the best flavor combinations in all of candy.
Reese’s Pieces (Tim: 6; Josh: 21)
TIM: Like M&Ms, but better. The best complement to a Dairy Queen blizzard.
JOSH: I’m not obsessed with Dairy Queen, so don’t appreciate them in this context. But, peanut butter flavor (without actual peanut butter) standing alone doesn’t do it for me.
Skittles (Tim: 5; Josh: 15)
JOSH: Skittles are a good, solid candy, but I almost never purchase them because there is a better alternative.
TIM: The Wild Berry variety are my favorite (there are no misses among those five flavors), but it’s tough to go wrong with the classics. Bonus points for Skittlebraü.
Smarties (Tim: 16; Josh: 13)
TIM: Never has a candy caused such complex emotions in me. I liked Smarties, then I got Smarties too often on Halloween — indeed, they’re like Girl Scout Cookies: available only by going door-to-door at a specific time of year — so I hated them, and then I didn’t trick-or-treat anymore, and I wanted some Smarties again, deciding in the end that they’re just alright.
JOSH: I always kind of thought of Smarties as the poor man’s M&Ms. Not a ton of taste but the taste that exists isn’t offensive in the least.
TIM: I reject that comparison on culinary and moral grounds.
Sour Patch Kids (Tim: 19; Josh: 1)
TIM: Much like what I rank right below them, Sour Patch Kids are hurt by their tendency to stick in my cavities and cause a sharp pain.
JOSH: I brush my teeth twice a day and am able to fully enjoy the best candy in the world. Red is my favorite flavor, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Starburst (Tim: 9; Josh: 22)
TIM: If Now & Laters were just Nows and tasted more like Skittles.
JOSH: Yeah, they get stuck in your teeth and don’t taste that pleasant, particularly yellow!
Swedish Fish (Tim: 20; Josh: 5)
JOSH: Swedish Fish are incredibly sweet, the epitome of what a sweet candy should be. And, also, a great, soft texture.
TIM: These don’t taste as good as SPKs, and so are rarely worth the pain to my molars.
Sweet Tarts (Tim: 15; Josh: 3)
JOSH: I bought Sweet Tarts for Halloween this year and it was a great purchase. A distinctively good and hard sour candy with a little bit of sweetness in there.
TIM: It’s been years since I’ve had Sweet Tarts. Aside from the aforementioned yellow ones, they’re okay I guess.
Three Musketeers (Tim: 10; Josh: 18)
TIM: Never really more than a change-of-pace candy, Three Musketeers are like the Darren
Sproles of Halloween.
JOSH: More like the Ryan Leaf of candy — well, maybe that’s too harsh — but Jeff George at best. As a six-year-old, though, I was very proud of knowing that the inside filling was “nougat.”
Twix (Tim: 3; Josh: 9)
TIM: The only candy with the cookie crunch, Twix is behind Milky Way only because it doesn’t work well frozen and can’t easily be made into a plural.
JOSH: The cookie crunch is what does it for me. I also like how it’s slightly thinner than its sister candy bars.
Twizzlers (Tim: 14; Josh: 20)
TIM: A personal favorite of my mom, Twizzlers are a frequent presence in my house. They get tiresome after a while, though, and the novelty of the Pull and Peel is undone by the horror of Black Twizzlers.
JOSH: Yeah, I strongly prefer the pull and peel variety. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased normal Twizzlers by choice but I don’t completely disrespect those who do.
York Peppermint Patties (Tim: 22; Josh: 12)
JOSH: I like the mint-chocolate combination, and the chocolate York uses is better quality than that of most candies. But, I do prefer a liquid mint filling and York is definitively solid.
TIM: A friend once pointed out to me how you can almost never eat more than one York Peppermint Patty. The first one is good, every subsequent one gets worse and worse. It’s only a matter of time before eating an entire pack of Yorks is a fraternity hazing challenge, like drinking a gallon of milk in an hour or eating six saltines in 60 seconds. It is simply not possible.
TIM: Man, we’re like the Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay of candy rankings. How is Cam Newton not in your Top 5??? I’m gonna go eat me a frozen Milky Way.