There is a woman in line in front of me at the grocery store, and she’s buying a bottle of wine. She might be going to a dinner party, or drinking alone, or with her partner—I’m not going to ask, but she came to the grocery store for one sole purpose: that bottle of red. I also came here with singular intent. I grab the divider, put it between us, and empty out $40’s worth of candy onto the conveyor belt. She glances at me, not necessarily with judgment, but with a sort of bewildered “Okay, what’s the backstory here?” look.
Here’s the backstory: Last weekend, I invited four of my friends over to rip through bags of candy, which I had previously frozen overnight in my freezer.
Our findings? Freezing often changes the candy’s composition, its character. In some cases, the candy becomes a new thing entirely. Often times, though, the freezer merely cools the snack down, not offering much of a change at all. My good friend, comedian Jordan Doll, would describe this as having a “low chill factor.” Some of the name brand favorites became much, much worse, nearly impossible to eat unless you want to destroy your teeth.
For this project, I picked candy bars, chocolates, and a few select sugary candies that I had a sneaky suspicion would benefit from the freeze. Over the course of about an hour, we ate more than 20 different types of junk food. Of this current writing, I am sick. I feel like I injected an entire Easter basket into my veins chasing some childhood high that doesn’t exist anymore. I’m a broken man, but I’m also a man with opinions about frozen candies. Here they are.
York Peppermint Patties
Freezing a York is a no-brainer. Bringing down the temperature of a York pleasantly solidifies the peppermint filling. Cool temp and minty flavor are natural companions, so it’s only a small a step away from eating a mint ice cream bar. Plus, you don’t want a room temperature York. Melted chocolate and peppermint don’t mix; they need to be cool. The texture of a frozen York is a little tough, but it still works. This scores high marks.
Okay hear me out: These rank number 1 for me, ranked number 2 among the group. Freezing Skittles changes the experience entirely; they pretty much shatter inside of your mouth. It’s satisfyingly jarring, a welcomed surprise. They are instantly brittle, and once they break in your mouth, they become chewy again. Delightful. Frozen Skittles rule.
Another one that scores high marks from the crew. Jordan said Lemon Heads have a “high chill factor.” (Also, I can’t get him to stop saying chill factor.) The Lemon Heads retain the cold well. They don’t exactly shatter like the Skittles, but the freezer brings nice added crunch. There is also something wonderful about chilly, lemony candy. It’s a condensed, candy-fied version of having a frozen lemonade. Also, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Lemon Head, but good lord my hands were covered in yellow-5 afterwards.
Haribo Gummy Bears
There is absolutely no reason to freeze gummy bear unless you are writing an article about freezing candy, or if you intended to throw them through the window of your enemy. They become rock solid. Two of my friends really loved them, but I can’t understand why. Gummy bears became way too chewy; you almost have to suck on them a little bit to make them edible. That doesn’t sound good, right? Hey suck on these frozen gummy bears. Gross.
Coconut is divisive, frozen coconut even more so. Most of us agreed that the change was positive, however. The freezer tames the coconut texture a little bit more; it’s more solid, less gooey, and kind of assimilates with the dark chocolate. There’s something nice about the sweet, frozen coconut. It works a lot like the York. High scores. If Jordan says “chill factor” one more time, I might ask him to leave.
I want to give this one negative marks, but others enjoyed it. Simply put, I like Reese’s best when it’s room temperature. The chocolate melts a little bit and gets on your fingers, and the warm peanut butter center is soft and agreeable. When you freeze a Reese’s, it almost becomes a hard cookie, and I don’t think that’s when a Reese’s shines. You’re not a cookie, Reese’s, you’re a peanut butter cup. Soft and elegant. I’m sorry I did this to you. But hey, you might like it.
Snickers is always the front runner in the frozen candy conversation. More than any other candy bar, I think it shows up in people’s freezers. I get the appeal, although like the Reese’s, I prefer it to be room temp. Melty, stretchy caramel and creamy peanut butter nougat are preferred. Although, I will say that Snickers gets high marks for transforming into an entirely different experience. Lindsay Adams rated Snickers as her top choice, and she had good reasoning: “Every layer changes.” She’s right. The nougat, caramel, and peanut all change. There’s a nice bonus texture to each layer of a Snickers once it freezes. I guess it’s good, just not what I’m looking for. You’re probably better served getting the actual Snickers ice cream bar.
My Dad used to freeze Paydays. He was a railroad man who blasted classic rock and smoked Marlboro Reds. This is the “your Dad” of frozen candy bars. It’s practical, strong, and unwavering. The peanuts become crunchy and I guess that’s nice. I feel like no matter how you eat a Payday, though, it’s difficult. The whole thing is made of nuts and caramel. The Payday was invented in 1932, and it shows. Hey let’s just glue together a bunch of peanuts and call it a candy bar. Okay, is it for kids or is it for coal miners? Paydays, no matter the temperature, taste like watching an educational movie.
I was the only one that liked the Milky Way, and everybody made me feel crazy for it. I like nougat! I think a frozen Milk Way is very pleasant. The inside isn’t completely frozen, so you still get some nice chocolate crunch on the outside and a smooth, creamy, chilly filling.
These were fine. The caramel center is awfully chewy. It does extend the life of the candy a little more, like, you’ll probably spend twice as much time getting through a frozen Rolo as you would a room-temperature one. My friend Joe Kwaczala said, “There’s something fun about letting it transform in your mouth”—whatever that means.
What a bad idea. This became just a rock solid, caramel mess. Part of the fun of a Twix is the chewy center, but this just becomes impossible to eat. It’s like somebody is playing a prank on you. Not fun. Do not freeze Twix.
Friend and comedian Nicole Conlan said she has “long time stanned Raisinets” and she was definitely the only one in the room who took that position. I like frozen Raisinets, though, I’ve never said to somebody, “Hey we should freeze some raisins.” These have a good chew factor. (Chew factor is like chill factor, only it has to do with chewiness.)
Milk Duds also became a different candy. They don’t necessarily shatter in your mouth, but they become a lot crunchier. If you think these are tough to chew at room temperature, wait until you gnaw on a frozen one. Joe said, “It’s like watching an old movie with a new deleted scene.” I want to throw the Milk Duds at him, but he’s one of my best friends. These rank middle of the pack.
The big winners: Skittles, York Peppermint Patty, Lemonheads
The big losers: Haribo gummy bears, Milky Way, Reese’s
Some chocolate bars simply taste better a little melted. Not everything should be frozen, but things with mint and coconut should be put in the fridge or freezer. Also, if you enjoy eating frozen gummy bears, I’d suggest you see a doctor.