Which Halloween candies are the most nostalgic?

The best Halloween candy of 2021 will be determined in a seven-week face-off.

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The 2021 Halloween Candy Power Rankings
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Greetings, mortals, and welcome back to The Takeout’s Official 2021 Halloween Candy Power Rankings. We’re two weeks into our rankings, which means there are now six weeks until Halloween. That’s six weeks to figure out which of the top 10 best-selling Halloween candies in America is the best in show.

We’re presenting our rankings according to a number of criteria every Friday leading up to Halloween. See last week’s rankings for more information on our methodology. In week one, the competition for “Best Packaging” saw Twix soar to an easy victory. That gold wrapper! Who could resist?

This week, we’re dusting off our sense of childlike wonder: Which Halloween candies are most nostalgic? All aboard the nostalgia wagon! (Leave your wax lips and Necco Wafers at the curb.)

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10. Sour Patch Kids

All members of the Takeout team agree: While Sour Patch Kids are an undeniably fabulous candy, they don’t spark a lick of nostalgia. We all came into the Sour Patch game later in life; plus, the neon packaging feels too futuristic to conjure up sepia-toned childhood memories. Do we love these naughty little candy kiddos? Yes. Are they nostalgic? Alas, no.

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9. Reese’s Cups

Reese’s Cups are another team favorite, but, like Sour Patch Kids, they’re lacking in the nostalgia factor. We love ’em, but they don’t feel particularly attached to our emotions. Maybe it’s because, as Takeout editor in chief Marnie Shure puts it, they aren’t nostalgic so much as they are “a part of us, indelibly. You can’t get nostalgic for the air you breathe.”

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8. Skittles

Skittles evoke a gentle whisper of nostalgia, but that may have something to do with the fact that we remember all the movies we’ve watched in the theater while eating them, including Jack (1996) and The Game (1997). Man, we’ve seen some bad movies.

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7. Starburst

We’ve each got a few memories associated with Starbursts. “I remember always getting to eat everyone’s cherry Starburst on family road trips,” editor in chief Marnie Shure recalls. “My association with them will always involve the hot girls at my high school fighting over the pink ones,” says staff writer Lillian Stone. Finally, staff writer Dennis Lee claims that he’s never purchased Starbursts as an adult, which is enough to land them a quasi-respectable place on this nostalgic list.

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6. Twix

We don’t have to rely on nostalgia to enjoy Twix; they’re just awesome (and glamorously packaged). But we do feel the need to point out that George Costanza’s Twix rage episode aired in, ahem, 1998. That’s gotta count for something.

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5. Snickers

There’s a slight age gap between Takeout staffers, but we can all agree: as kids, we had a major soft spot for Snickers. Takeout staff writer Dennis Lee points out that Snickers “had an adult feeling to them,” probably because of the peanuts. Ultimately, Snickers bars remind us of the singular pleasure that is digging through one’s plastic jack-o’-lantern to find the good stuff.

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4. Jolly Ranchers

Takeout staff writer Allison Robicelli points out that Jolly Ranchers feel very nineties. “Everyone in 1990 was obsessed with watermelon,” she says. “I haven’t eaten many JRs since, but when I do, it’s to take me back to fourth grade.” Meanwhile, editor in chief Marnie Shure has distinct memories of her parents issuing warnings “not to let them melt into the minivan cupholders.” Finally, staff writer Lillian Stone fondly remembers getting dragged to her dad’s hushed office after school and stealing from the jar of Jolly Ranchers he kept on his desk.

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3. M&M’s

M&M’s may not be the sexiest candy, but they’re a true classic. We’ve all got an M&M memory stashed deep in our gooey brains, although, as one member of the Takeout staff put it, “Middle-of-the-road candy inspires middle-of-the-road memories.”

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2. Hershey’s Miniatures

Listen, folks, these bad boys have stayed the exact same for decades. The branding evokes all sorts of Halloween nostalgia, probably because there were never any splashy “special edition” flavors crowding our plastic jack-o’-lanterns—just consistent heavy hitters from one season to the next. For better or worse, we see Hershey, Krackel, and Mr. Goodbar as a direct link to childhood.

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1. Tootsie Pops

We’re not crazy about ’em, but Tootsie Pops have been inspiring nostalgia for decades. “When I was a kid in the ’80s, these seemed so old and ’70s,” says Allison Robicelli. And while we’re not particularly fond of the flavor, we can all agree that the pops’ muted jewel-tone packaging and wise owl mascot are enough to take us back to simpler, sugar-fueled times.

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We’ll see you next week for more highly methodological Halloween candy rankings! Until then, we’re sure you’ll let us know what we got dead wrong.

Read all of our 2021 Halloween Candy Power Rankings here: