Okay, time to get down to business. While it's perfectly acceptable to give out candy devoid of cocoa at Halloween, we all know chocolate is the name of the game on October 31. Whether you're being modest and giving out fun-size or miniature versions, or are going whole hog (probably in a not-so-subtle attempt to outdo your neighbors) and doling out regular or even king-size varieties, here are the 10 chocolate candies that should be in your trick-or-treat bowl.
10. Chunky. In making the Chunky bar a compact trapezoid, Nestle eschewed traditional candy bar architecture and the result is a thick block of milk chocolate studded with salted peanuts and chewy raisins. I thought the idea of incorporating desiccated grapes into candy was ludicrous, but that was before I tried a Chunky bar; now I am in favor of using sultanas, raisins, and other dried fruits as much as possible with chocolate.
9. Milky Way. For those who write off Milk Way as simply a poor man's Snickers because of the former's lack of peanuts, I say you are not fully appreciating that a thick ribbon of caramel atop chocolate nougat can be appealing in a totally different way. No legumes means a smoother, more luscious consumption experience and a chance to fully appreciate the delicious simplicity of nougat, caramel, and chocolate.
8. Peanut M&Ms. Note the absence of the word "butter" in this entry. Butter does not always make everything better. Old-school peanut M&M's offer the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate of regular M&Ms plus a double layer of crunch via the presence of a cheery candy shell and the interior peanut. The extra protein and mastication involved might also prevent you from eating more than two cups (in theory) of these candies.
7. Kit-Kats. Regular Kit-Kats, that is. Not green tea, strawberry, edamame soybean or any of those other Japanese spin-offs. Never in a candy bar has there been a more fabulous combination of wafer and milk chocolate and such a satisfying crunch with each bite.
6. Almond Joy. I like Almond Joy because they have nuts and Mounds don't. Also milk chocolate. Because they are constantly fed all this propaganda about natural, whole foods, kids these days are less likely to understand the greatness that is processed, artificially- sweetened coconut. Educate them this Halloween by giving out Almond Joys.
5. Health Bar. Perhaps the most underrated candy bar on the planet, Heath Bar has had to content itself by appearing as measly bits in ice cream, brownies, and cookies. But why can't milk chocolate-covered toffee bars live as they were born, in a sweet oblong form that's slightly difficult to bite? Don't worry if young kids break a tooth; they're going to lose them anyway.
4. Snickers.Snickers satisfies because it balances the intense sweet, syrupy taste of caramel and vanilla nougat with the more savory, salty flavors of roasted peanuts. By the way, while it is perfectly acceptable to hand out fun-size Snickers, don't be the cheap jerk who allots one Snickers MINIATURE per trick-or-treater.
3. Baby Ruth. Alas, the young'uns of the 21st century may not be familiar with Goonies, and therefore won't get it when you start whining, "Ruth! Ruth! Baby Ruth!". They will still enjoy the unique flavor afforded by the combination of peanuts, caramel, nougat (with just a whiff of honey), and milk chocolate in Baby Ruth, which should taste exactly like a Snickers. But it doesn't and it's wonderful.
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2. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Sometimes I wonder if the Reese's company purposely designed their peanut butter cup package in Halloween colors to make this candy a natural choice for the trick-or-treat bowl. Stripped of its subtly seasonally appropriate wrapper, Reese's would be a perennial favorite on Halloween simply because of the terrifically delicious disproportionate ratio of thin chocolate coating to rich, slightly grainy nut butter interior.
1. Hershey's Miniatures. The quartet of Krackel, Mr. Goodbar, Hershey's, and Hershey's Special Dark are like The Beatles of the candy bar world. Similarly, some members no longer appear on their own (Krackel, wherefore art thou?), but that's okay, because they taste better as a group, anyway.