Halloween candy sucks.
In fact, I would argue that Halloween candy doesn’t even really exist. It’s a myth. There is no such thing as Halloween candy, only candy that is given out in miniature at Halloween.
“But what about candy corn?” *slaps you across the face* Get a hold of yourself, man! Even if you do somehow like candy corn, it’s widely loathed and doesn’t exactly go in the “win” column for Halloween candy. If that’s the best argument you have for Halloween candy existing and not sucking, you’re going to have to try harder.
The fact is that Halloween candy isn’t as exciting as it could be or should be, considering that Halloween is such a juggernaut candy holiday. There aren’t a ton of special flavors or bars or brands that get rolled out every October. I would also be quick to point out to my esteemed colleagues at The Takeout that their recent Halloween Candy Power Rankings are, well, just a ranking of regular candy you can find on store shelves all year long.
“Bite size” isn’t a flavor. “Fun size” isn’t a flavor. Shapes like Reese’s Pumpkins don’t have their own special taste. Gummy worms exist year round, and wax lips and eyeball gumballs exist purely for novelty, not because they’re delicious or beloved.
No, there is nothing especially enticing about Halloween candy. A glaring truth stares me in the face every October: Halloween falls drastically short of Easter in the candy aisle.
It’s inconceivable that the Lord’s day somehow outshines the devil’s in terms of tempting treats. It feels like these holidays have it completely backwards. The devil’s whole thing is supposed to be temptation and gluttony and sin. But instead Halloween rolls out a bunch of puritanical, missionary, flavor-hating old-timey Quaker-ass confections each year. Halloween is dominated by pre-1950s candy bars, wax, gum, and taffy. The whole thing needs an update. Whenever anything more interesting rolls around, it’s usually just some one-time promotional Halloween stunt that never shows up again. As it stands, perennial Halloween candy is lackluster, boring, and quite frankly makes me want to stop worshipping the devil.
Easter candy, meanwhile, is an explosion of flavors. (Makes me think God is more sex-positive and pro-drugs than we originally thought.) Every year the candy companies take big swings for Easter, and it’s something to look forward to each spring.
Jelly Belly set the precedent; it feels like that company’s always got a new, experimental flavor to roll out and keep interest high. It’s the one brand that feels true to the eccentric Willy Wonka candy consciousness. Be wacky. Take risks. You’re a candy company, for Christ’s sake. This should be fun, and Jelly Belly has fun out there. Jelly Belly Snapple and orange sherbet sparkling water and superfruit packs of sugary little beans. A prototypical bag of Jelly Belly has 50 different flavors. Oh, but please, continue to trot out the same miniature bag of five barely discernible flavors each Halloween, Skittles.
Hell, even Peeps saw the writing on the wall years ago and adjusted, rolling out dozens of new flavors and candy collaborations each spring. The company flipped the perception from stale yellow marshmallows to unpredictable and tasty genius. I don’t like Hot Tamale Peeps, but I love that they exist. See also Sour Watermelon Peeps, Blue Raspberry Peeps, and Cotton Candy Peeps.
Some companies swing and miss with their Easter releases. For example, I hope the person who invented Key Lime Pie M&M’s lands back on their feet at a job that discourages ideas. Oreo Cookies & Creme Eggs are a crime against not just my mouth, but mouths everywhere. But for every off-putting flavor, there’s a Mallow-Top Reese’s cup that hits a home run into the upper deck.
How much does Easter candy outshine Halloween? There’s even a superior equivalent of candy corn available: the jelly bean. You know, something that tastes fruity and light, not like vanilla wax. (Again, candy corn comes from a time when people thought that a selling point would be that it looks like corn.) Starburst is a good example of a company that vaulted into the jelly bean game and it paid off big. Why isn’t Starburst taking big swings like that at Halloween, too?
More importantly, Easter candy has what Halloween candy doesn’t: an identity. Think about all the candies that are 100% associated with Easter, and virtually no other time of year: Cadbury Creme Eggs. Jordan almonds. Peeps. Robin eggs. Cadbury Mini Eggs. Chocolate bunnies. These items rolled out at grocery stores with pride and prestige. Your average grocery store on Halloween is overrun with variety packs of all-too-familiar miniature candy bars, and not enough off-the-wall experimental goodness.
Halloween candy needs a reboot. It needs to take on new flavors, to take some notes from our suddenly rad Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Figure out what is being left on the table. What is Halloween candy’s biggest weakness? Where is there room to grow? I say that there’s a severe lack of new candy bars out there on the market. Here’s a quick list of iconic candy bars and the years they were invented:
- Baby Ruth - 1921
- Milky Way - 1923
- Butterfinger - 1923
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups - 1928
- Snickers - 1930
- 3 Musketeers - 1932
- Kit Kat - 1935
- 5th Avenue - 1936
- Almond Joy - 1946
- Twix - 1979
See the trend? I would argue that our palates have evolved past the first half of the previous century. Most American chocolate is bad, and almost nothing new has been created to take its place.
Halloween could be a time of brave new exploratory candy bars. It can be more than candy corn and bite-size Snickers. We can wave goodbye to low-rent gummies, wax bottles, and ancient Tootsie Rolls. Friends, I believe it’s time for a change. It’s time to invent some new candy for All Hallow’s Eve. And if everyone agrees to Venmo me $500 I believe I can get this done. My handle is @palumbros. Your money is safe with me.