Trash or treasure: Halloween candy edition

Good morning and Happy Halloween, dear readers! Since most of you aren’t kids, instead of a pillowcase full of half-melted candy, you’re left with makeup cementing your eyes shut, glitter in your hair, welts from your push-up bra, and a headache that even painkillers can’t quite dull. Why were we in such a hurry to grow up, again?

The F Word spent her Halloween eating tacos and drinking beer and watching a stream of Black Swans, vampires, and drunk updates pop up on Facebook. Don’t be sad—it was wonderful. Being generally cheap and self-conscious, I’ve never been able to get it up for Halloween the way other people seem to. I never have the urge to be a slutty Disney princess, and I’m not imaginative enough for anything else. I have such trouble dressing myself on a daily basis that Halloween is just way too much pressure. My plan for Halloween last year, Hipster Barbie, would never fly in San Francisco—I’d just look regular.

My mother was always strict about candy. We never had any in the house (or she just hid it really well from my sister and me), so Halloween was a chance to get that elusive sugar high. Even now, I don’t keep candy in the house because I have zero self-control (and I have really bad teeth. I can brush my teeth three times a day and still end up with cavities. Deep grooves and soft enamel mean that I never go to the dentist for cavities—it’s always a root canal and a crown. If I were a mummy, my grave would definitely have been robbed for my silver crowns by now). Send me a box of chocolates? It’ll be gone in two days. Give me a candy bar? An hour, tops. I must be trying to make up for lost time.

But I’m just as picky with candy as I am with food. Why would you snack on Swedish Fish when you can have something as awesome as Lindor Truffles? I’m going to help you pick through your hypothetical candy bag (or your kid’s candy bag) and tell you which to trash and which to keep.

Hershey bars: TREASURE.

While not the greatest chocolate, these can help you cleanse your palate between the Reese’s cup and the Mounds. Very important. (Unless they’re white chocolate, in which case throw them the hell away. What is the point of white chocolate? It’s not vanilla, but it’s not chocolate either. Just get rid of it.)

Smarties: TRASH.

Why would anyone willingly eat these? It’s like chewing on dusty chicken bones. PASS.

Sour Patch Kids: TREASURE

I tend to not like fruit-flavored candy because why would you eat that when you can have chocolate? But even though Sour Patch Kids give me an instant headache, their sweet and sour goodness can’t be replicated. (Off-brand versions are unacceptable.)

Milk Duds: TRASH

Who in the fuck can eat these? They pull my teeth right out of my head, and they don’t even taste good. You might as well be eating a chocolate-scented candle.

Milky Way:  TREASURE

The houses that gave out king-sized versions of these bad boys were always the farthest away, down the creepiest, most deserted streets, but they were worth every terror-filled step. In the Milky Way vs. Snickers debate, I fall firmly on the Milky Way side, especially now that there are dark chocolate Milky Ways.

Laffy Taffy and/or those strange fruit-flavored Tootsie Rolls: TRASH

These make my jaws hurt. Eating candy should never be work. It’s un-American. I always seemed to end up with the banana-flavored ones, which is pretty much the worst flavor of anything ever. Not only that, but these also induced orthodontia-related nightmares—they taste and feel like those terrible molds for making your retainer.


Halloween licorice is dangerous because it varies wildly in quality. Those wide strips of licorice were always so hard to chew that they must have sat on a drugstore shelf for more than one season. The pull-apart licorice, on the other hand, is perfection. Always soft, and sanctions playing with your food before eating it. I’m for it.


The best thing about Reese’s cups, especially the miniature ones, was always that there were so many of them. At houses where you were only allowed one handful, even my tiny hands could grip quite a few of those bad boys. Or if you were only supposed to take two or three pieces, I’d could sometimes hide a few in my palm and end up with four or five. Greed and deceit are important Halloween traditions.

Tootsie Rolls: TRASH

Throw these in the trash where they belong. The big tootsie rolls just add insult to injury.

Candy corn: UM

I know this is contentious, and that tempers (and blood sugar) run high when discussing candy corn, but I JUST DON’T GET IT. They’re waxy. They’re more sugary than sugar. They don’t taste good. Can someone explain it to me, please? (Saying “they’re delicious” is not an explanation, because they are CLEARLY NOT.) On the other hand, the caramel apple-flavored ones are pretty legit.

Skittles: TREASURE

These were the golden ticket of trick-or-treating. If you could boast about a full-sized bag of these at school the next day, the popular kids might even make eye contact with you for more than a second. Special flavors like sour or tropical were like Abercrombie jeans. You might just be the coolest kid.

What did I forget? What would you steal from my candy bag when I ran to the bathroom to scrape the Milk Duds off my teeth? Which of my candies would you fish out of the trash?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Jill Kolongowski is a freelance writer and editor living in San Francisco. When she’s not cooking, running, or reading, she blogs at Follow her on Twitter at @jillkolongowski.

12 Responses to “Trash or treasure: Halloween candy edition”
  1. Lindsey says:

    WORD on the Milk Duds! I actually DID lose a tooth in one when I was a kid! I bit down and when I opened my jaw one of my first molars was planted inside. Popped right out.

    Starburst and Sweet Tarts (especially chewy ones!) were some of my favorite candy gold. Juji Fruits were made a big deal of also, but mostly because my Dad ate the few fun size boxes I hauled one year before I got ANY.

    • Jill Kolongowski says:

      Hahaha! I’m pretty sure I lost a filling to a Starburst once–I can’t believe I forgot them! I liked Starburst, but I always seemed to get only lemon and orange, which we know are the worst flavors. Chewy Sweet Tarts are BOSS.

      • Lindsey says:

        No, no! Lemon is one of my favorite flavors!! It’s when you eat a yellow candy thinking it’ll be lemon but it turns out to be banana that it’s terrible!

  2. effraeti says:

    Mmmm, Dark Chocolate Milky Ways are awesome.

    My list consists of pretty much anything chocolate, except those cheap chocolate coins or foil-wrapped chocolate balls/eggs with the awful flavored chocolate… Starburst and Skittles and Sour Patch Kids are pretty high on the list, too, despite their lack of chocolate. :)

    I am disappointed, though. You mentioned candy corn, but you did not mention Circus Peanuts. Though, admittedly, I am not sure if they make these anymore… I swear they are made out of styrofoam, so maybe they finally did away with the awful things.


  3. Lauren Rheaume says:

    I don’t understand Candy Corn either.

  4. Gavin Craig says:

    All right people, those “dark chocolate Milky Ways” have a name. They are Milky Way Midnights, and when they show up in my kids treat-or-treat bags, they are MINE. (Anything dark chocolate just gets skimmed off the top when I do my inspection.)

    And yes, circus peanuts are disgusting. Does anyone like them? (Maybe just old people who have big bowls of Werther’s Originals.)

  5. Danielle says:

    How can you even compare those crazy peanut things to a Werthers? One is stale and tastes like talcum powder. The other is a nice smooth, buttery treat. Though I don’t deny the old people connection.

  6. Anna says:

    I love Milk Duds.

  7. Charles Roman says:

    Banana flavored Laffy Taffy is one of my favorite ever. I’m not sure this relationship is going to work anymore.

  8. cd says:

    Robbing from the little ones trick or treat bags is the parents rewards for taking them all over the neighborhood. Really, why else would parents do this

  9. Lauren Rheaume says:

    Actually, one of my favorite things ever is banana flavored Now and Laters. They will definitely rip your fillings out, but I love them!

  10. Angela says:

    M&M’s Jill…..especially the peanut ones. If I could eat those without worrying about sugar or calories, I would live off of them.

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