Defining the Candy Hierarchy (Halloween Experiment Debriefing #1)

Although there were some intra-family disputes about what belongs where, we did derive a basic candy hierachy, and I do think it is basically sound. This taxonomy is based on years of research and debate, on thorough testing and re-testing, on statistical comparison and quality measurement, on focus group testing, and on a series of FTIR scans that reveal various hydrocarbon peaks and whatnot.

In other words, this is sound science.

Here's what we've found, with uncertainties acknowledged:


(not suprisingly, exclusively chocolate-based)

Milly Way --- Snickers --- Peanut M&M's --- Regular M&Ms --- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Junior Mints --- regular old Hershey Bars* --- Twix


(also exclusively chocolate, after fending off a few intruders)

Kit-Kat* --- Nestle Crunch --- Almond Joy --- Mounds --- Tootsie Rolls* --- Dark Chocolate Hershey Bars --- Fair Trade Chocolate --- Butterfinger


(also referred to as the chewy range or, in some circles, the Upper Chewy or Upper Devonian)

Milk Duds --- Starburst --- Jolly Ranchers (if a good flavor) --- 100 Grand Bar


(the Lower Chewy and Gummy-Based, also the Middle Crunchy Tart Layer)

Dots --- Lollipops --- Nerds --- Whoppers --- Swedish Fish -- Gummy Bears straight up --- Licorice -- Anything from Brach's --- Hard Candy --- Bubble Gum --- LemonHeads --- LaffyTaffy --- Including the Chiclets (but not the erasers) --- Jolly Ranchers (if a bad flavor) --- Black Jacks --- Bottle Caps --- Smarties

Tier so low it does not register on our equipment

Healthy Fruit --- Pencils --- Lapel Pins --- Extra Strength Tylenol

*These indicate the intra-family disputes. For example, I would keep Kit-Kat where it is, while other unnamend members of the family demand that it be given Top Tier Classification. That same other unnamed member of the family would not put Tootsie Rolls as a top-tier get, though I would've. Shockingly, there was no unanimous decision on the placement of Candy Corn, which as of 2006 remains to be classified.

[NB: This got put in the Sb "Academia" Category because it's cutting edge academic research.]

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Beyond pointing out that Jolly Ranchers are in no way chewy, unless they've changed since I last had one stuck to my molars, I won't argue with your hierarchy.

My question is more curiosity concerning your category title to wonder what Knoxville's day in the sun circa 1982 has to do with any of this. I was a mere ten year old growing up in Atlanta at the time and had no idea of my future in Knoxville, but I'm now fairly aware of that golden year.

Ah Sam, poor Sam. As with all taxonomies there are anomalies. Alas, Jolly Ranchers are this scheme's anomaly, and you were right to identify it as such. At the next council meeting, it shall be debated again. As for Knoxville, the emphasis is on its heading for the place where miscellany thrive. And a post such as this, depsite it's hard-hitting data, can be none other than miscellaneous.

Sandra, Swedish Fish anywhere elss? Pshaw. The evidence is overwhelming agains them. I stand firm.

How can you not have Smarties on the hierarchy? Those are clearly an index candy for the Middle Crunchy Tart Layer.

I would add Mary Janes and Good N' Plenty the bottom tier. And to the how dare they call this candy category I nominate those anonymous brown globs that come in black and orange wrappers.

. . . up until this year i would have agreed with you, but this year was all about the sweetarts which were toptier all the way . . . followed only in majesty by nerds, chased along by runts . . . who knows the workings of the longing that lives inside a human being? all i know is that i have a terrible tummy ache . . . :)

This is a well-organized and ranked list. Due to personal preference, I would do a bit of rearranging, but that's probably true of most people. Some surprsing absences: Butterfinger (a top-tier for me), 3 Musketeers (second tier at best), and PayDay (top tier, despite it's lack of chocolate). I also agree with Sandra on the ranking of Swedish Fish. For some reason, these appeal to me greatly.

No placement for those odd marshmallow circus peanut.... thngs? Or are they considered an abomination too evil to distribute to the young nowadays?

By G Barnett (not verified) on 02 Nov 2006 #permalink

*most definitely* a family-specific list. how on earth could kit-kat be anything but top tier amongst candies one has actual liklihood of getting while trick-or-treating? 2nd tier, pshaw! only when we're counting supreme top-tier things like godiva chocolates and those delicious sandy-textured carmel praline things from mexico, that you *don't* get door-to-door.

My God, man, where are the Butterfingers? Your entire experiment may be come unbalanced!! Quickly splice some in before all Hell breaks loose!

whoppers should be top tier or second at worst. the whoppers that never properly whopped and are chewy, however, should always be a top tier item.

Surely Tylenol Extra Strength belongs in the top tier!

Or maybe I have just had a mis-spent youth .....

Every year we've given away chocolate (Peanut Butter Cups and Twix, mostly) and one of the "bottom tier" candies -- Nerds, sour Skittles, Gummi Bears, or Swedish Fish. Every year, the trick-or-treaters pounced on the non-chocolate, and it vanished right away.

Butterfinger added, Sandy. There was some dispute, I can tell you, in the lab. But the FTIR scan (coupled with the randomness of childhood interpretation) leaves it in the Second Tier.

As for the others, we rechecked the data and it's sound. Sorry. Can't argue with data.

What about rockets? Don't you have rockets in America? I bought a three pound bag but was careful to save at least a pound for me.

By A different Sandra (not verified) on 03 Nov 2006 #permalink

Bravo! I see that our hierarchies are similar. I would put smarties in the bottom tier, but reasonable people can disagree.

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