Hey, look on the bright side. For every shitty type of candy there is out there, there are five more that are just mediocre. Har. Seriously, however, there's a world of great sweets to choose from when it comes to filling your treat-or-treat bowl. Here are ten of our favorite non-chocolate candies (cocoa picks to follow).
10. Haribo Gummi Cola Bottles. Die-hard Haribo fans may be surprised I picked cola bottles as my favorite manifestation of gummy candy. While I very much enjoy the ever-popular bears, there's something enticingly authentic about the flavor of the cola bottles. They made me realize I enjoy chewing Coke more than drinking it.
9. Blowpops. Blowpops have two major virtues. First, their original fruit flavors are remarkably vivid (the watermelon especially) and not artificial-tasting. Second, they have a Surprise Inside in the form of a hearty ball of chewing gum that varies your consumption experience by forcing you to transition from sucking to mastication.
7. Airheads. At some point during grade school, Airheads were banned from campus because kids were eating too many of them during recess and returning to the classroom bat-shit hyper. Now that I've escaped the fascist prison system that is public elementary education (I have to ASK to go to the bathroom? Seriously?), I love to indulge in White Mystery and Cherry Airheads, both of which make the back of my mouth tingle in a pleasantly uncomfortable fashion.
6. Starburst Candy Corn. New to the market this year, Starburst Candy Corn has all the soft, creamy texture of regular candy corn with stronger fruit (rather than high fructose corn syrup) flavors. I have been content to eat this by the handful, but also plan to save some in the freezer to use in the spring for flower cupcakes.
5. Vanilla Tootsie Rolls. Kudos to the visionary at the Tootsie Company who is exploiting a truth that I have known for decades: vanilla is the pre-eminent flavor of Tootsie Rolls, superior even to chocolate. This Halloween, bags of vanilla "midgees" are on sale at your local drugstore; take advantage of this wonderful flavor monopoly while you can.
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4. Atomic Fireballs. Atomic Fireballs are not for the faint of heart. Nor are they for people who are squeamish about removing candy from their mouth and reinserting it repeatedly, for the burning bliss fireballs engender is best enjoyed with some breaks in between to let your mouth cool off.
3. Bull's Eyes. Picture the lard filling of Oreos circumscribed by chewy caramel: Yes, something that luscious does exist. Also known as caramel cremes, Bull's Eyes are an O'Leary clan tradition and should become one as well with your family.
2. Twizzlers. They actually taste like cherries, they're fun to chew and you can use them as straws. And, yes, I have tried Red Vines.
1. Autumn Mix. The love child of two independently terrific confections, Candy Corn and Indian Corn, Autumn Mix is perhaps most famous and likable for its inclusion of the venerable candy corn pumpkin, which has no squash flavor but still tastes delicious. A bowl of Autumn Mix on your dining room table is also, by the way, the perfect transitional centerpiece for Halloween to Thanksgiving.