I’ve been a student in the United States for a little more than two years now, and I’ve certainly learned a lot during that time.
However, there’s one item I haven't checked off my bucket list: the American Halloween experience.
I'm from Malaysia, where we don't really celebrate Halloween, at least not in the scale that people here in the U.S. do. This means I've never dressed up as any of my favorite characters to go trick-or-treating. Before writing this, I hadn't tried most of the candy on this list. My favorite candies (sweets, as we'll call them) growing up were Mint Plus, Sugus, Kopi-O and Lot 100 Sour, but those aren't available around these parts.
So I did some very important work for my first Halloween experience: I ranked all the candies typically associated with the spooky season. And because I’ve never had most of these candies or been influenced by the commercials and childhood memories they come with, I can rank these candies from worst to best as a fair and impartial party.
31. Circus Peanuts
Nothing could have prepared me for how horrible these giant fake peanuts would taste. Why are they shaped like peanuts? What is this bad marshmallow trying to achieve? There is not much I can say about this. From the texture to the flavor to the concept… it’s just bad.
I first tried the black licorice Twizzler, expecting it to be absolutely disgusting, but it actually tasted fine. It reminded me of herbal Chinese medicine my grandma would brew for me. It wasn’t exquisite, but it wasn’t awful. Yet, when I bit into a strawberry-flavored Twizzler, I was filled with disappointment. The taste and the texture is a no for me, but I will give it points for being presented in a fun way.
29. Candy Corn
Maybe it’s my fault for expecting too much from these adorable, multi-colored candies, but they just didn’t do it for me. It’s just flavorless sugar that feels like chalk on your tongue. It’s unsatisfying. I contemplated popping a handful into my mouth, because this is what my life has become, but I decided against it in fear that I would simply spiral into a sugar high disguised as a bottomless abyss. This piece of candy left me questioning the structure of the universe.
28. Pixy Stix
This just feels bad. The taste is mediocre, but the experience is like forcing Emergen-C packets down my throat. I don’t understand it, and I don’t quite respect it, but I might allow it if someone gives me a valid explanation. I had to Google how to eat it, because it’s just powder in a stick. I was convinced for a moment I had to dissolve it in water. The instructions were unclear.
27. Now and Later
This candy is the evil version of Starburst. Instead of tasting soft, chewy and pleasant, it’s tough and very obviously made to leave you dissatisfied. It is not “long-lasting,” as marketed. I feel like I’ve been lied to.
I was not expecting just how salty this peanut treat would be. I thought the name insinuated I would feel the way one does on payday: Happy, satisfied, unstoppable. Instead, I just felt confused. If I wanted salty peanuts, I would just buy a pack of salty peanuts. I could barely taste the caramel, but perhaps the caramel was the ingredient amplifying the saltiness.
25. Dubble Bubble Gum
I feel like chewing gum in general just shouldn’t be given out during Halloween, but Dubble Bubble Gum is the third-most sold candy in Missouri during the months leading up to Halloween, according to 13 years of sales data from bulk candy distributor Candystore.com. I tried a number of flavors for this candy, and all of them just… sucked. The flavoring is too artificial and sweet, and I’m not a fan of the texture of bubblegum in the first place. Too much chewing, not enough reward.
24. Milk Duds
This is another candy I was looking forward to that left me feeling a bit empty inside. The flavor is not appalling, but the chewiness almost made me spit it out. I persisted, though. It doesn’t leave me especially content, but I don’t hate it. I would not go out of my way for this candy, but I would be OK receiving it.
23. Swedish Fish
I went into this taste test completely blind, not knowing what to expect. Looking at the candy, I expected it to have a gummy-like chew to it and a somewhat normal taste. The chew was fine and perhaps almost enjoyable. But there’s just something off-putting about the flavoring of this candy. The fruitiness is refreshing initially, but upon further inspection, this candy leaves an odd aftertaste in your mouth.
22. Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans
They're not very gourmet, are they? Still, the flavors are pretty good, and they're really fun to bite into. I could easily eat a handful of these and enjoy most of the flavors. They make very good snacks for some mindless eating when you’re watching a scary movie.
21. Milky Way
I won’t lie, I’m a little afraid to put this one relatively far down the list because Milky Way is the best-selling candy in Missouri, according to Candystore.com. It just doesn’t taste like good chocolate to me. It tastes like the kind of chocolate used for those chocolate gold coins. The flavor of the chocolate itself just isn’t very rich, and it’s a bit of a disappointment. The dark chocolate version of this chocolate bar was also very lackluster and bland.
20. Almond Joy
Almond Joy reminds me of a Bounty chocolate bar, which is one of my favorites, because both are coconut-flavored. However, the little almond in the chocolate leaves much to be desired. The flavor and crunch is surprising and perhaps joyful for some, but I’d rather eat a coconut-flavored chocolate without the almond. It doesn’t pair well for me.
19. Sour Punch Straws
I’m a pretty big fan of sour things, but this sour straw didn’t really do it for me. I expected a gummy consistency, but it was way too chewy and tough. A friend described it as tasting like candy that sat out for a little too long, and honestly, I have to agree. This candy just tasted more sweet than it did sour, but I have to commend the blue raspberry flavor.
18. 3 Musketeers
This chocolate bar tastes like Milky Way without the caramel, but the nougat and chocolate just tastes better to me. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat this, but I wouldn’t mind receiving it while trick-or-treating.
17. Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers
I enjoyed the chew, but the flavors are not the best. I’m not sure how I feel about the dual-flavoring of this candy, but the sourness and the texture is quite satisfying. Just an average, fun, worm-shaped sour candy.
I saw a lot of comments about this candy being overhyped, but I actually enjoyed it. It’s a little chalky, certainly, but not overly so. It’s not too sweet in my opinion, and they’re very convenient. The flavors all taste similar to each other, but I enjoyed them all. I would certainly give this candy out if I ever participate in trick-or-treating.
15. 100 Grand
While certainly not the most luxurious-tasting chocolate I’ve had, these chocolate bars tasted above average. The crunchiness of the crisped rice is a definite bonus, and the caramel isn’t too thick. I would be delighted to receive this treat on Halloween night.
What’s not to love? It’s a fun experience to just pour these little pieces of candy into your mouth, and the texture is interesting. It’s sweet but not overly so, and the flavoring is decent.
13. Sour Patch Kids
I know sour candies aren’t everyone’s top choices, but I really enjoy how rewarding eating sour candies can be. It’s a little party in your mouth, and once the eye-twitching sourness dissipates, what’s left is a yummy, chewy and sweet gummy.
I’ll definitely recommend this chocolate bar if you’re someone who enjoys a very nutty flavor, but for me, the nuttiness was too overpowering and I couldn’t enjoy the chocolate as much. It felt too thick, and I wouldn’t go back for seconds.
I know, I know. It’s very sour, but to me, sour candy is representative of Halloween: People get in the mood for scary, spooky things and freak themselves out but end up having a great time. Eating Warheads is exactly like that. It makes you squeal and your jaw tightens up, but you're rewarded with a very yummy candy underneath all the sourness.
10. Mike & Ike
This candy actually surpassed my expectations. They look just like jelly beans, so I expected a similar experience, but the texture of Mike & Ikes is better than jelly beans in my opinion. It’s chewy but not tough, and the fruity flavors are not overdone.
9. Laffy Taffy
The flavors for Laffy Taffies are surprisingly good. I also enjoyed the texture, though it can be a little too tough sometimes. It’s a decent candy that I’m sure would please a lot of people.
8. Nestle Crunch
This chocolate bar is just good. It's nothing over the top. The crunch is there, the chocolatey goodness isn’t overpowering, and if I received chocolate like this while trick-or-treating, I would feel at peace.
This is a satisfying candy. It tastes and feels how it looks. The flavors are delicious and it’s super juicy, which makes for a good treat. It’s not too sweet and actually tastes a little more tart than most candies, which I appreciate.
6. York Peppermint Pattie
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of mint flavors, but this one is so good. The dark chocolate tastes rich, and the peppermint is strong but not so much that it makes your nose hurt. The contrasting flavors and the melty texture makes this candy one of my new favorites.
5. Caramel Apple Pops
It’s seasonal and it’s fun. That’s it. That’s what makes it a good candy. I wish the apple flavors were stronger, but the caramel is actually quite delicious and not too sweet, although it is overpowering at times. While it doesn’t taste revolutionary, I think it’s fitting for Halloween, which scores a lot of bonus points in my book.
To me, Toblerone is the more elegant version of Snickers in terms of its presentation as well as its taste. It’s certainly more expensive, but the milk chocolate is rich, the nougat is used quite sparingly, but enough to give it a different texture, and the nuttiness is not as overpowering as in the Snickers. If I were lucky enough to receive a Toblerone as a treat during Halloween, I might weep softly.
Trying these for the first time was a cultural reset. The peanut butter is so delicious and gooey, the chocolate is so smooth and it somehow is perfectly flakey once you bite into it. It's a bit heavy to have too many of these in one go, but, gosh, is it worth it.
What can I say? Kit Kats are just undeniably yummy. The chocolate is smooth and rich, and the wafer is crunchy. It’s quite airy, which some might not like, but I think the lightness is what makes a Kit Kat so distinct from the other chocolates that generally taste too thick or not chocolatey enough.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Twix. It looked simple, and I’ve heard about it a couple of times, but I haven’t really heard people sing its praises. The biscuit (or cookie, as Americans would say) at the bottom mixed with the milk chocolate and caramel gives the chocolate bar excellent crunchiness. The biscuit is somehow not soaked in the caramel, so you can actually taste the distinctive flavors in your mouth, but everything also blends together. There’s nothing I would change about this chocolate bar. I’m a changed person. I don’t think you understand — I’m obsessed. I want to bring this home to Malaysia. I’m ready to spend my Halloween this year just eating Twix chocolate bars.
Other than giving me a sugar high, this experience was definitely a highly enjoyable one. Despite trying out some downright nasty candy, I actually have some new favorite candies now.
Ultimately, everyone has different taste buds and preferences, but did I miss out on some of your favorite treats or offend you with my choices? Let me know in the comments below — I might revisit the candy store to try out any suggestions (and get my hands on more Twix chocolate bars).