Ed. note: Little known fact — yours truly is a candy bar connoisseur. A maven of the vending machine; a champion of cheap chocolate. Are candy bars mostly terrible and terrible for you? Of course they are! But when you need a little sugar spike, there’s nothing better. Here’s a buying guide for your Halloween shopping, or the next time you need a quick fix:
THE TOP 10
Reese’s Sticks – not that easy to find but worth it. Gossamer light in the hand and on the palate — the perfect combination of wafer crunch, sweet, savory, peanut and chocolate…with a slightly salty finish. Positively addictive.
Almond Joy – three words: almond, coconut, chocolate.
Mounds – almost as good as with almonds, Mounds always taste fresher than the competition in any candy machine. Same with Almond Joy. (As with AJ, you have to buy into the whole sweetened coconut thing, though.)
100 Grand Bar – sort of an outlier, very dense, with just the right rice crispy crackle, a good long chew, and a solid chocolate finish. Like Reese’s Sticks, something you should grab when you see it. Occasionally, they can be hard and stale, which might (understandably) turn you off to the whole experience. But persevere, and find a packet that hasn’t been sitting around for a year, and you’ll find yourself (occasionally) craving one. If you don’t believe me, ask this candy bar critic!
Reese’s Cups – it’s the sweet/savory/salty thing that sets them apart.
Snickers Almond – in case you haven’t guessed, almonds improve everything. Even a Snickers.
Snickers – some classics never go out of style.
Hershey’s Krackel – so much better than Nestle Crunch (not sickly sweet + crunchier), so much harder to find, too. Don’t believe me? Then trust this blind taste test by people with homemade cat masks over their eyes!
Twix – I was on the fence about Twix. Something that looks like turd and tastes like a cookie should have no place in the pantheon of purely worthless-yet-craveable candy….but sometimes you just want one.
Nestle Crunch – If I had made this list 25 years ago, Nestle Crunch would have been at the top. But something happened over the years. It became too sweet and blander at the same time. (No doubt because the amount of cocoa butter used these days is practically nil.) Still will grab one occasionally, even though I almost never finish it.
WILL DO IN A PINCH
Kit Kat – Kit Kats made anywhere but America are great. In Japan, they’re a thing (see above). In Europe, they’re wonderful. Here, they taste like sugar on sugar on sugar wrapped with sour chocolate.
Mars – I have no idea what that fluffy white stuff taking up all the room in a Mars bar is, but it’s not sickeningly sweet (at least compared with some fillings), and the almond kick makes it worth it. The retro Mars Bar made by our very own Ethel M Chocolates is a thing of beauty.
Payday – Payday’s are always dry and stale, but there’s no denying the appeal of peanuts on (even stale) caramel.
Baby Ruth – NOT named after the Yankee slugger; WAS named after Grover Cleveland’s daughter! My issue with Baby Ruth’s is they always shatter into dozens of pieces of cheap chocolate the moment you bite into them. Probably the messiest candy bar this side of a Butterfinger. Never try to eat one anywhere but outdoors or over a sink. The ice cream bar they make, however, is very good, even if it does the same thing.
Hershey’s Almond Bar – they do something to American chocolate that always makes it taste a little sour when compared to the stuff you get in Europe. Hershey’s is the biggest offender, but the almonds (as usual) make up for their shitty recipe.
Mr. Goodbar – Nothing more than a Hershey Bar with peanuts, but I’ll eat peanuts on anything.
Heath Bar — hard, teeth-cracking toffee and that’s it. A total mess to eat with no big payoff. The best use for a Heath Bar is putting it into ice cream. The only good thing you can say about a Heath Bar is it’s better than a Butterfinger.
Bit-O-Honey – is not a candy bar. It is stale, rancid, ROCK HARD honey wrapped in plastic. When they can’t think of any better use for all that bee vomit they have lying around, they sell it to the Bit-O-Honey factory. The best use for a Bit-O-Honey is patching a tire.
Reese’s Nutrageous – How could something born as the love-child of a peanut butter cup with a Baby Ruth Bar crossed with a Snickers be such a mistake? Totally out of balance, there is too much and not enough going on at the same time.
Butterfinger – there is no excuse for Butterfingers in the candy bar kingdom. Gertrude Stein was really describing a Butterfinger when she said “there is no there, there.” Just fake chocolate surrounding something that resembles shredded yellow paper soaked in fake fake butter. People who like Butterfingers are not nice human beings. (NO ONE DENIES THIS!) They’re the types that leave stale food in the office refrigerator for weeks, don’t pick up their dog’s shit, and cheat on their taxes. The last time I saw a guy eating a Butterfinger he was beating his wife and urinating on his neighbor’s lawn.
Milky Way – You can’t hate Milky Ways the way you loathe Butterfingers. They’re too innocuous. Just a bunch of tasteless fluff taking up space so not-enough caramel can be covered with fake chocolate. Milky Ways are to candy bars what Kenny G is to jazz.
Three Musketeers – Remember when you’re a kid and you came home from trick or treating with a big pillowcase full of goodies and you dumped them on your living room floor to behold your ill-gotten booty. Chunky was a big thing back then and you were fascinated by its tiny brick of hard chocolate (but turned off by the nuts and raisins inside). Snickers were prized and Almond Joys were the Holy Grail. And Three Musketeers….? Well, they were the flotsam and jetsam of your haul. The first thing to be jettisoned. The ones always left at the bottom of the sack. Why? Because they SUCKED! “Fluffy whipped nougat” my ass. They sucked in 1964 and they suck today. You know a candy bar is shit when even an eight year old can’t be talked into eating it.