9. Hershey Mini Bars

Just like Jolly Ranchers, Hershey Mini Bars (Hershey, Mr. Goodbar, Krackel) are candies that we only really think about at Halloween, and since they’re so ubiquitous in October, they hardly need to pop their heads up any other time of year. Sure, there are some generic commercials featuring pool parties and barbecues where people are passing around a bowl of miniatures, but let’s face it: Hershey has transcended the need to advertise its entire product line to Americans. It’s America’s chocolate.


8. Reese’s Cups

We all agree that Reese’s advertising is a masterstroke of building brand awareness; staff writer Dennis Lee says that the orange/yellow/brown/black color scheme alone triggers a “Pavlovian response” that requires him to purchase a Reese’s immediately. From the first millisecond a Reese’s commercial hits your screen, there’s no mistaking what it’s about to sell you. Still, there’s something so visceral about the imagery that keeps this candy’s ads near the bottom of our rankings. The extreme close-up on the cups and the cross-section of the peanut butter center is too textured, too grainy. It’s giving us a peek of what we don’t want to think about: that the center of a Reese’s is hardly “peanut butter” at all.

7. Starburst

Starburst has laid both a blessing and a curse at our feet: the Little Lad Who Loves Berries And Cream. This 2007 commercial for a specialty flavor of Starburst featured a strange, anachronistic fellow who danced with joy at the thought of his favorite treat. It was already a strange bit of pop culture ephemera, but Tik Tok shot it back into the mainstream with millions of videos posted to the #berriesandcream hashtag. You can’t buy that kind of fame. It was the most oddball ad that Starburst has ever created, and while we appreciate the brand taking such a big swing, it seems like that might have been its peak—because none of us can remember any great Starburst ads that have aired since the first decade of the 2000s.

6. Twix

When you think about Twix ads, what comes to mind? Probably the whole “Left Twix” or “Right Twix” concept, which Twix introduced nearly a decade ago and has leaned into hard ever since. There are a series of ridiculously convoluted ads involving a pair of warring brothers who split their candy company in two, creating adjacent Left Twix and Right Twix factories and... are you asleep yet? No one wants Twix to think this hard about its chocolate bars; we certainly don’t. But as much as Twix refuses to let this campaign die, we must admit it sticks in the brain. “I genuinely don’t care about this left or right debacle, but it’s a catchy gimmick,” says staff writer Angela Pagán.


5. Sour Patch Kids

“I’m not always a huge fan of anthropomorphizing food we’re supposed to eat, but somehow here it works.” So says associate editor Brianna Wellen, echoing the sentiments of most of the Takeout staff. These mischievous Kids and their sour-then-sweet hijinks are always a welcome sight on TV, even if their shenanigans aren’t as memed as other candies.


4. Snickers

At the 2010 Super Bowl, Snickers premiered its Betty White commercial that would kick off a decade of celeb-studded ads, the premise of which was: “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” Since then, we’ve seen hangry performances from Aretha Franklin, Liza Minelli, Joe Pesci, Don Rickles, Danny Trejo, Steve Buscemi... the list goes on. And on. Though the ad campaign’s concept started losing steam after a while, it remains “just clever enough,” in the words of staff writer Allison Robicelli.

3. Tootsie Pops

Search for “Tootsie Pop commercial” on YouTube and you’ll be sent down a blissful rabbit hole of Schoolhouse Rock!–esque jewel-toned animation, featuring a wise old owl with dubious math skills. Since 1969, few candy ads have been as quotable or memorable. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Unclear, but for the sake of your dental work, don’t follow the owl’s example.


2. Skittles

Even more than Starburst, Skittles advertising has embraced uncomfortable levels of weirdness for decades. Setting aside the ads where Skittles take the form of edible skin lesions, or the commercial where Sheep Boys are chewing on Smoothie Mix Skittles, even as far back as 1990, things were getting a little strange and conceptual. It’s the kind of why-the-hell-not brassiness we love to see, and we’ll always support Skittles in these efforts to build brand affinity by the strangest means possible.


1. M&M’s

You’re not surprised by this top ranking, are you? M&M’s characters are part of an entire fully realized universe, and they have the Times Square real estate to prove it. We all know their distinct personalities, from dopey Yellow to fiery little Red to sexy (???) Green, and beyond. New cast members join the ads as new flavors are introduced, and they’re added to the packaging, too. It’s a decades-long branding commitment on par with McDonaldland, and you have to respect that after 25 years, the company is still airing the same damn Christmas commercial year in and year out. M&M’s knows exactly what we want.


Find all our 2021 Halloween Candy Power Rankings below: