Most popular Halloween candy to please trick-or-treaters

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October 17, 2020 // Shutterstock

Most popular Halloween candy to please trick-or-treaters

Most Americans can think back on childhood and recall the excitement of preparing for Halloween. Carving pumpkins, putting together a costume, and finding a ginormous bag to stuff with candy is just the beginning. Halloween is the one night a year that kids can meander around neighborhoods with a posse of friends, ringing doorbells and collecting a mountain of treats. Remember sorting the candy, hiding it from your siblings, and ultimately popping pieces in your mouth for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the following weeks?

Americans love their candy, generally speaking. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American consumes 22 pounds of candy every year. More than 60,000 U.S. citizens earn their living manufacturing treats and sweets. Over 2.2 million metric tons of chocolate are imported to the United States to satisfy our cravings. 

To determine the most popular Halloween candy in America, Stacker turned to FiveThirtyEight’s Ultimate Halloween Candy Power Ranking. In this 2017 ranking, FiveThirtyEight used an anonymous online quiz to pit 86 common Halloween treats against each other in randomized, one-on-one matchups for voter preference. After the votes were tallied (over 250,000 votes from 8,371 different IP addresses in total), the percent of matches that each candy won was used to rank the most popular treats. Stacker is including the win percentage and desirable properties of the top 50 candies in this story.

The results were chocolatey, with favorites like M&M's, Milky Ways, Reese’s Cups, and Snickers making the cut. Although candy corn is everywhere come Halloween, you won’t see it in the top 50.

Fascinating facts came out of researching this story. Did you know that Reese’s Pieces was not the first pick for E.T.’s choice of candy or that Snickers was named for a horse? Click through the slides to brush up on your candy facts and learn more about the history of your favorite treats.

You may also like: 34 spooky dessert recipes for this Halloween

#50. Twizzlers

- Win percentage: 45.5%
- Candy properties: fruity

Twizzlers were first produced in 1845 by Young & Smylie, and the first flavor was licorice. Did you know that Hershey’s makes 1 million miles of Twizzlers annually? The U.S. delegation reportedly consumed at least 10 pounds of strawberry Twizzlers during the Iran nuclear talks in 2015. 

#49. Tootsie Roll Midgees

- Win percentage: 45.7%
- Candy properties: chocolate

Frank Sinatra was buried with his favorite candy: Tootsie Rolls, according to "Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous." From 1942–45, the U.S. military included these chewy candies in the rations for World War II troops. Today, 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily.

#48. Smarties candy

- Win percentage: 46%
- Candy properties: fruity, hard

Smarties classic tablets come in six flavors: orange-cream, pineapple, strawberry, cherry, grape, and orange. The sweet, slightly chalky tablets resemble medicine and are often used by kids for make-believe. Turns out they are gluten-, dairy-, and peanut-free.

#47. Payday

- Win percentage: 46.3%
- Candy properties: peanut, almond, nougat, bar

Invented in 1932, Payday was so-named because its inventors were at a loss for what to call the candy and guess what day it was? Payday! Hollywood Candy Company also made other candy bars including Butternut, Zero, and Milk Shake.

#46. Mike & Ike

- Win percentage: 46.4%
- Candy properties: fruity

Mike and Ike, a favorite movie theater candy, was launched in 1940. The original fruit mix contained cherry, orange, lemon, and lime candies. A promotional campaign split up the eponymous pair, but like all great loves, they got back together.

#45. Gobstopper

- Win percentage: 46.8%
- Candy properties: fruity, hard

When Willy Wonka professed his love for Gobstoppers in the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” everyone started popping these small jawbreakers into their mouths. The candy, which changes colors and flavors, was named for the character Everlasting Gobstopper in the classic book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

#44. Trolli Sour Bites

- Win percentage: 47.2%
- Candy properties: fruity

Trolli creates a treasure trove of treats including crawlers, rings, bears, bites, creatures, and a bunch of other crazy shapes including tiny hands and weird beards. The tangy and twisted candies come in funky fruit flavors like green apple, blue raspberry, and strawberry,

#43. Mounds

- Win percentage: 47.8%
- Candy properties: chocolate, bar

Who can forget the Mounds jingle, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t?” The song references the Mounds sister candy Almond Joy, which contains almonds. Mounds do away with the nuts and are made with sweet coconut covered in rich, dark chocolate.

#42. Tootsie Pop

- Win percentage: 49.0%
- Candy properties: chocolate, fruity, hard

The five original Tootsie Pop flavors include cherry, orange, chocolate, raspberry, and grape. A sixth flavor is randomly added that may be lemon-lime, blue raspberry, or watermelon. The center is always a chocolate Tootsie Pop.

#41. Whoppers

- Win percentage: 49.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, crisped rice wafer

Whoppers were launched in 1939 under the name Giants, but they were rebranded as Whoppers a decade later. The original price for a Whopper, which came unwrapped, was two for a penny.

#40. Tootsie Roll Snack Bars

- Win percentage: 49.7%
- Candy properties: chocolate, bar

Tootsie Roll snack bars have been made with the same recipe since 1896. The chewable candy was the first individually wrapped penny candy invented by Leo Hirshfield, who named it for his 5-year-old daughter, Clara, who he called his little Tootsie. Today, they come in a half-ounce snack size that offers a lot more chew than their penny-candy predecessors.

#39. Almond Joy

- Win percentage: 50.3%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond, bar

Consumer demand for milk chocolate was the inspiration behind the creation of Almond Joy candy bars in 1948. Forty years later, Almond Joy and its sister candy Mounds (the one without nuts) joined the Hershey Company as part of its official candy line-up.

#38. Haribo Sour Bears

- Win percentage: 51.4%
- Candy properties: fruity

Gummy bears were invented in 1922 by German candy maker Hans Riegel. “Haribo” is an acronym for the founder's name and the region (Bonn) of Germany where he was born. Did you know the green bear is actually strawberry?

#37. Air Heads

- Win percentage: 52.3%
- Candy properties: fruity

While you can find lots of recipes for cool stuff to make on Pinterest using Airheads, you might be surprised to discover that the “White Mystery” variety is a mixture of leftover flavors. Airheads come in a variety of iterations, including gum, gummies, bites, and soft-filled bites.

#36. Sour Patch Tricksters

- Win percentage: 52.8%
- Candy properties: fruity

Sour Patch Tricksters pair the fun of enjoying a sweet and sour gummy with a guessing game. The candy looks like it tastes like one flavor, but it may taste like another. Trick your friends or just play by yourself.

#35. Lifesavers big ring gummies

- Win percentage: 52.9%
- Candy properties: fruity

Regular-size Lifesavers are fine to pop in your mouth most days, but Halloween is a time to raise the bar. Lifesavers big ring gummies are huge gummies that mimic the traditional Lifesaver shape. They come in five flavors: cherry, watermelon, green apple, strawberry, and blackberry.

#34. Mr. Good Bar

- Win percentage: 54.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond, bar

Did you know that during the Depression, Mr. Goodbar was marketed as “Tasty Lunch?” That’s because the peanuts added nutritional value. The cost of a Mr. Goodbar in the 1930s was two for 5 cents. The name Mr. Goodbar was created when the company’s founder Milton Hershey (who was hard of hearing) heard someone say, “Mr. Goodbar” when they actually said, “That’s a good bar.”

#33. Swedish Fish

- Win percentage: 54.9%
- Candy properties: fruity

If you inspect a Swedish Fish, you will notice it has the word “Swedish” on its side. The fish, which do come from Sweden, come in the original red color, as well as yellow, green, purple, and orange.

#32. Milk Duds

- Win percentage: 55.1%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel

Milk Duds were created in 1928 by F. Hoffman & Co. of Chicago. When their maker kept failing at creating perfectly round balls, he called them “duds.”

#31. Skittles Wild Berry

- Win percentage: 55.1%
- Candy properties: fruity

Once you tear open a bag of Skittles Wild Berry, you understand why the tagline “Taste the Rainbow” is a perfect description. Flavors you will discover include berry punch, strawberry, melon berry, wild cherry, and raspberry.

#30. Nerds

- Win percentage: 55.4%
- Candy properties: fruity, hard

This pebble-shaped candy originally created by the Willy Wonka Candy Factory over three decades ago is still a popular choice for nerds and cool kids alike. At one time, Nerds even had its own brand of cereal.

#29. Hershey's Kisses

- Win percentage: 55.4%
- Candy properties: chocolate

Although you may imagine a romantic narrative behind the naming of the Hershey’s Kiss, its genesis is a mystery. The lovable treat was once wrapped by hand. If you examine the Kisses logo, you will see a sideways kiss between the K and the I.

#28. Hershey's Milk Chocolate

- Win percentage: 56.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, bar

Did you know that Milton Hershey got his start by making caramels, not chocolate? When Milton Hershey built his candy factory in 1900, chocolate was a luxury only the rich could afford. Once Hershey switched his focus to chocolate, he made it affordable for everyone.

#27. Baby Ruth

- Win percentage: 56.9%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, peanut, almond, nougat, bar

You may have assumed that this delicious candy bar was named for the baseball legend Babe Ruth, but its creators claim it was named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter. The candy bar was sold for 5 cents at one time to compete against Oh Henry!, which was priced at 10 cents.

#26. Haribo Gold-Bears

- Win percentage: 57.1%
- Candy properties: fruity

Haribo invented gummy bears; the original main ingredient was gum arabic. They were not called gummy bears at that time. Rather, they were referred to as Gold-Bears. Children can trade chesnuts and acorns for Gold Bears in late October at the factory in Bonn, Germany, a tradition that began in 1936 and continues today. The company uses the nuts to feed animals in the winter. 

#25. Junior Mints

- Win percentage: 57.2%
- Candy properties: chocolate

Junior Mints were named after a Broadway play, “Junior Miss.” “Seinfeld” fans recall the infamous "Junior Mint" episode when Kramer and Jerry think they killed a surgery patient after they accidentally drop a Junior Mint in his mouth in the operating room.

#24. Hershey's Special Dark

- Win percentage: 59.2%
- Candy properties: chocolate, bar

Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate has 45% cacao. Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate also comes in a variety of versions, including Kisses, cocoa, syrup, and chocolate chips.

#23. Snickers Crisper

- Win percentage: 59.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, peanut, almond, crisped rice wafer, bar

Snickers Crispers were created to market an option with fewer calories. The portion-controlled candy has 200 calories, while the regular-sized Snickers bar weighs in at 250 calories.

#22. Sour Patch Kids

- Win percentage: 59.9%
- Candy properties: fruity

Did you know that the original name for Sour Patch Kids was Mars Men? Blue raspberry was not part of the first flavor profile, which was limited to lemon, lime, orange, and cherry.

#21. Milky Way Midnight

- Win percentage: 60.8%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, nougat, bar

The original name for Milky Way Midnight was “Forever Yours.” Mars pulled the dark-chocolate bar filled with vanilla nougat and caramel off the shelves in 1979 due to declining sales. It was relaunched in 1989 as Milky Way Dark and became Milky Way Midnight 11 years later.

#20. Hershey's Krackel

- Win percentage: 62.3%
- Candy properties: chocolate, crisped rice wafer, bar

The original Hershey’s Krackel bar was launched in the 1930s. It was only available in miniature size for about 20 years, but it returned to its full size (1.55 ounces) along with a 4-ounce and 6.5-ounce size in 2014.

#19. Skittles original

- Win percentage: 63.1%
- Candy properties: fruity

Skittles were created in England in 1974 and introduced in the United States five years later. The brand’s “Taste the Rainbow” campaign was rolled out in 1994. Skittles were one of the first candies marketed on social media.

#18. Milky Way Simply Caramel

- Win percentage: 64.4%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, bar

Did you know that Milky Way is owned by Mars? Its Simply Caramel candy bar has 250 calories and 31 grams of sugar.

#17. Rolo

- Win percentage: 65.7%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel

Rolos were invented in the United Kingdom in 1937, but have only been available in the United States since 1969. The rolly candy’s slogan, “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?” refers to the fact that they would come 11 in a pack—enough for one person to have an even 10 with one extra to share with a friend.

#16. Nestle Crunch

- Win percentage: 66.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, crisped rice wafer, bar

The Nestlé Crunch Bar was first produced by Nestlé in 1928. Since 2018, it has been produced by Ferrero Italia. Slogans for the chocolate bar made with milk chocolate and crisped rice included, “Music to your mouth,” "Munch Now. Munch Some Later," and "For the Kid in You."

#15. M&M's

- Win percentage: 66.6%
- Candy properties: chocolate

The letter “M” was printed in black ink on the candy-coated chocolate until 1954 when it switched to white. That same year saw the introduction of the M&M slogan, “The milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” as well as the introduction of the iconic animated characters. Over 400 million M&M's are produced every day.

#14. 100 Grand

- Win percentage: 67.0%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, crisped rice wafer, bar

Nestle’s 100 Grand candy bar was originally named the $100,000 Grand candy bar, inspired by game shows in the 1950s. People have been trying to get to the bottom of why the name was changed to 100 Grand in the mid '80s, but have not yet solved the mystery. The candy bar’s name in South Africa was $1,000,000.

#13. Starburst

- Win percentage: 67.0%
- Candy properties: fruity

Starbursts were originally called Opal Fruits and were invented in the United Kingdom in 1960 and came to the U.S. in 1967. Strawberry, orange, lime, and lemon were the original flavors. Pink is a fan favorite, and it’s spawned dozens of homages—from a slushy drink at Taco Bell to cocktails.

#12. 3 Musketeers

- Win percentage: 67.6%
- Candy properties: chocolate, nougat, bar

Mars invented the 3 Musketeers bar in 1932. It consisted of individual minibars of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry nougat, which inspired the moniker 3 Musketeers. Due to the hiking costs of vanilla and strawberry during WWII, Mars switched the bar to be only chocolate flavored, but kept the original name.

#11. Peanut M&M's

- Win percentage: 69.5%
-Candy properties: chocolate, peanut

Peanut M&M's made their debut in 1954, 15 years after the original M&M's were launched. Initially, they were only available in tan. Ironically, candymaker Forrest Mars was allergic to peanuts.

#10. Nestle Butterfinger

- Win percentage: 70.7%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond, bar

The moniker Butterfinger was submitted in a contest by a Chicago gentleman who described himself as a klutz. Otto Schnering, who invented the Baby Ruth candy, also invented Nestle Butterfinger.


#9. Peanut butter M&M's

- Win percentage: 71.5%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond

M&M's added peanut butter to its roster of flavors in 1991. Although they are offered in the same colors as other M&M's, since 2013 Peanut Butter M&M's have been slightly smaller in size.

#8. Reese's Stuffed with Pieces

- Win percentage: 72.9%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond

Reese’s Stuffed with Pieces is a dream for fans of both Reese’s cups and Reese’s pieces. Each package contains two Reese’s cups and is gluten-free.

#7. Milky Way

- Win percentage: 73.1%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, nougat, bar

The Milky Way candy bar was created in 1923 and was the first candy bar that was filled. When it was rolled out nationally in 1926, it came in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla. They were originally sold for a nickel each.

#6. Reese's Pieces

- Win percentage: 73.4%
- Candy properties: peanut, almond

The original moniker for Reese’s Pieces was PB. You may be surprised to learn that Reese’s Pieces weren’t the first choice for E.T.’s favorite candy: M&M's were. Despite their visual similarities to the latter, Reese’s Pieces don’t contain any chocolate.

#5. Snickers

- Win percentage: 76.7%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, peanut, almond, nougat, bar

Snickers were invented in 1930 and named for a horse that belonged to Frank Mars. When they were first sold it, Snickers bars cost a nickel. If you flip your Snickers upside down, you will see the pattern of a conveyor belt used to transport the candies during packaging.

#4. Kit Kat

- Win percentage: 76.8%
- Candy properties: chocolate, crisped rice wafer, bar

Kit Kats were originally packaged as a box of chocolates. At some point in your life, you might have sung the jingle, “Gimme a break,” when thinking about a Kit Kat bar. Japan has more than 200 flavors of Kits Kats including miso, green tea, and soy sauce.

#3. Twix

- Win percentage: 81.6%
- Candy properties: chocolate, caramel, crisped rice wafer, bar

Twix hit the United States in 1979 after debuting in the United Kingdom in 1967. It is a fusion of twin and bix, which is British shorthand for biscuits, or cookies, as they are known in the States.

#2. Reese's Miniatures

- Win percentage: 81.9%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond

Good news for lovers of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: The mini version has just 36 calories per cup. But who can eat just one? Along with tossing into Halloween bags, the foil-wrapped treats are great for baking (without the wrap, of course) and sharing with guests.

#1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

- Win percentage: 84.2%
- Candy properties: chocolate, peanut, almond

Did you know the Halloween favorite sells 62% more than its closest competitor? Not only on Halloween, but on Valentine's Day, Easter, and throughout the holiday seasons, 47% of all candy sold are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

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