For me, the best thing about Halloween was always the sorting. Dressing up like Superman is nice, but it kinda loses its charm when you realize you’re not actually, you know, Super. And sure it’s fun to run around the neighborhood and watch handfuls of heavenly candy dropped in your bag in return for simply ringing a doorbell — but what really got me was putting it all in piles. Because until you got home and dumped your candy on the carpet, you never really knew exactly what you had.
The candy acquisition phase of Halloween is mayhem. Sure, you’ve got a running tally in your head — and by you, I mean me — but it’s woefully inaccurate. “OK, I think I’ve got about seven Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, which is a good start, but I’d like to build on that reserve if I can.” Then, at a certain point, you become the Merrill Lynch of sweets. “I’m well stocked in Necco Wafers, a little too well, in fact. Mental note to unload some on the dog when I get a chance. Also, we’ve had a surprising yield of Milky Ways, which, with a bit of luck, I can parlay into some Baby Ruths from my sister. But Starburst, man, the Starburst market is dry. Bone dry. I’ve got to diversify into fruit-based sweets the first chance I get.” Then, when the footwork was over, you could go home and get to work. I liked to close my bedroom door so I could be free of distractions and evil candy-grubbing adults, and establishing some good, hard facts. All candy was grouped and ranked, because I was an insanely cool child, according to quality. Only then would I know how much of my bounty was top-shelf, and how much was just filler. Over time, I established the Halloween Candy Hierarchy, which I am sharing with you now. Argue if you like, but keep in mind, I’ve been thinking about this for over 20 years. Because I’m also an insanely cool adult.
Here we go, from Best to Worst…
1. Full Size Candy Bars: There’s a house in my hometown that every time I pass it, to this day, I think, “They used to give out full-sized Snickers.” God bless those generous bastards. I would speak at their funeral, donate a kidney, whatever they wanted. “Here lies a man who gave me a full candy bar once. Heaven awaits.”
2. Full Size 3 Musketeers: I mean, I guess 3 Musketeers is technically a candy, but if it thinks it’s sneaking into the #1 seed with nothing but chocolate marshmallow, it’s got another thing coming. No caramel? No cookie? Are we living in the dark ages? Have you heard of the Industrial Revolution? Can I at least get a fucking peanut or two?
3. Money: Halloween is the one day of the year when a candy bar is worth more than the money it costs to buy it. I don’t want your pocket change, lazy neighbor. Convert it into candy first!
OK, this is where things get serious. Every candy is on equal footing. All Fun Size. Who wins?
4. The Heavyweights: Kit Kat, Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Peanut M&M’s. Known colloquially as The Big 5 (to no one but myself), these are the undisputed kings of confections. Chocolate based, because come on, we’re not animals — but with a little flair for the dramatic. If the door opens on Halloween and you see the welcoming orange wrapper of a Reese’s, or the golden gleam of Twix, then you know life is gonna be OK. At least until the diabetes kicks in, but hey, you can’t have it all.
5. The King of the Fruit: Skittles. Good enough to be a Heavyweight, but fruit flavors can only ascend so high. There’s a glass candy ceiling, Skittles. Deal with it.
6. Unappreciated Genius: Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Reese’s Pieces, 100 Grand. When’s the last time you had a Butterfinger? Those things are fucking delicious. And Baby Ruth? Unreal. But there’s always a detractor with the Geniuses. Some jerk who leaves behind the Reese’s Pieces so they can snatch up a Milky Way or some nonsense. Fine with me, I’ll take them all.
7. Gotta Get Your Vitamins Somehow: Starburst, Twizzler, Gummies, Mike & Ike’s. Look, it’s not like I hate fruit candy or anything, in fact Mike & Ike’s serve as a lovely palate cleanser in between handfuls of peanut M&M’s, but candy is supposed to be chocolate. The fruities do provide important nutrition however that can be hard to come by during a Halloween binge. I mean, they don’t, but you can trick yourself into thinking they do.
8. Coconuts: Mounds, Almond Joy. Only out of sheer respect for the lunatics that hate coconut have I put these below the fruit flavors. But I’ll take a Mounds over a stupid Twizzler anyday.
9. Delicious But Conceptually Confusing: Take 5, Sour Anything, Whatchamacillits, Junior Mints. I don’t understand candy that hurts. Or makes my breath fresh, or has more than four ingredients. I will try very hard to understand them, mostly by eating them over and over again, but they’re not a Halloween priority.
10. Wake Me Up When You Grow Some Balls: Hershey, Hershey with Almonds, Crunch Bars, Mr. Goodbar, Milky Way, M&M’s. Boring! If you’re ever having trouble falling asleep and don’t have any Valium handy, just eat a Hershey bar, it’ll have the same effect. I honestly have no idea who goes in the candy aisle and comes out with a Crunch Bar or a plain M&M, but I assume they’re Republicans.
11. Basically Just Sugar: Laffy Taffy, Now & Later, Sweet Tarts, Smarties, Nerds, Candy Corns. Even kids taste Nerds and are like “wow, these are pretty unrefined.” Every year around mid-December children everywhere have to decide whether to bother eating the Smarties that remain at the bottom of their Halloween bag, or just throwing them out and getting it over with. Not a good sign.
12. Candy To Give To Your Parents: Anything Tropical Flavored. Candy was never meant to taste like a drink you order on Spring Break. Honestly, I’d rather eat a vegetable.