The Candy Hierarchy Anew (Halloween Experiment Debriefing '08)

The data presented below were first published after Halloween in 2006, here at The World's Fair. After further (non-anonymous) peer review, we pushed into the second phase of the research in 2007, as published here. We are proud to acknowledge that these earlier efforts--pilot studies, both--led to further funding. We've now been able to pursue the third phase of the work. Difficult work, yes. Labor-intensive, to be sure. Gut-wrenching, perhaps. But huge breakthroughs were in the offing. The hierarchy below includes the results of our continuing work.

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To re-repeat our earlier claims to the report: this taxonomy is based on (even more) 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.

The breakthrough news today is this: our biggest discovery this year was a new differentiation between the TOP and SECOND tiers. Weaker data analysis techniques earlier in the project had presented a distinct bi-modal cut, and we had -- erroneously, it turns out -- considered this an indication of two clear tiers. We were wrong. Further analysis, inspired by an outside consultant, showed that what we had considered one tier, the TOP-exclusively-chocolate-based-TIER, was actually two layers globbed together. The true TOP TIER is in fact a caramel-based layer. The exclusively chocolate-based tier (formerly TOP, and actually not even exclusively chocolate-based then, so what the hell) is lower. My hunch is that the caramel was just stuck to the other layer in earlier years, and we didn't notice. So we've acknowledged and added a new layer to the hierarchy. That should once and for all settle any disputes.

Also note the discovery last year, even if not as impressive, of the identity of Baby Ruth's place, which, as one reviewer saw it, "would appear to be the earliest surviving example of the evolutionary transition from the crunchy/chewy to the the dominant chocolate realm."

We also ask that readers recall the international controversy with the classification system over the last year. There were some troubling tensions in standards across borders and we're not afraid to blame the Europeans. For example, a team of Danish researchers, no doubt reading Kierkegaard in the shadow of Elsinore with windmills nearby, attempted to convince the academy that so-called "Super Piratos" deserved placement. This was rejected on appeal by a panel of experts playing Foosball in the break room at the National Academies. Just let's thank god the Aussies didn't chime in about vegemite.

Enough preamble, then. To wit, the 2008 Candy Hierarchy:


(caramel, chewy, oh my classy)

Caramellos --- Milky Way --- Snickers --- Rolos* --- Twix


(not surprisingly, exclusively chocolate-based)

Hershey's Kissables --- Peanut M&M's --- Regular M&Ms --- Junior Mints --- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups --- Three Musketeers --- regular old Hershey Bars -- Reggie Jackson Bar


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

Kit-Kat --- Nestle Crunch --- Mounds --- Tootsie Rolls --- Whoppers** --- Dark Chocolate Hershey Bars --- Fair Trade Chocolate --- Butterfinger --- Pay Day --- Baby Ruth


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

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

Almond Joy --- Candy Corn*** --- Starburst


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

Dots --- Lollipops --- Nerds --- Runts --- Trail Mix ---Swedish Fish --- Mary Janes --- Gummy Bears straight up --- White Bread --- Licorice -- Anything from Brach's**** --- Hard Candy --- Spree --- Bubble Gum --- Including the Chiclets (but not the erasers) --- Black Jacks --- LemonHeads --- LaffyTaffy --- Good N' Plenty --- Jolly Ranchers (if a bad flavor)***** --- Bottle Caps --- Smarties --- "those odd marshmallow circus peanut things" -- gum from baseball cards

Tier so low it does not register on our equipment

Healthy Fruit --- Pencils --- Lapel Pins --- Extra Strength Tylenol --- "anonymous brown globs that come in black and orange wrappers" --- Now'n'Laters --- Hugs (actual physical hugs) --- Whole Wheat anything

*These may be rolled to a friend.

** Whoppers blow.

*** Still no unanimous decision on the placement of Candy Corn, which as of 2006 remained unclassified, but as of 2007 had been tentatively placed in the Upper Chewy/Upper Devonian. 2008: no sighting.

**** Unless its something caramel, pronounced "caramel."

*****Remains an outlier, since it is in no way "chewy." Further studies have not resolved this inconsistency.

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I'm not convinced that candy corn is even a food, I would be very hesitant to place it as high as the Upper Chewy. I think Lower Chewy would be a better basis.

I'm not convinced that Hershey's is even chocolate.

For what it's worth, stealing the kids' benzedrine is the only thing that gets me through tonight. That and bourbon, which I don't see listed...

Well, since there is an obvious gap in the literature relating to the *Canadian* hierarchy, I guess I'll just have to shoulder that burden and replicate this work here. Darn.

Clearly there is a serious flaw in the methodology as the placement of Smarties in the Bottom Tier and M&Ms in the Post-Tertiary Tier shows an odd bias that may be due to its availability (i.e. as Smarties are not available in most of the US it is clear that one of the judges failed to test them thoroughly).

My American friends who have been offered the opportunity to test Smarties and Chocolate M&Ms head-to-head have trended towards rating the Smarties as their preferred chocolate delivery system of the two.

The Smarties in the U.S. he is referring to a probably what we have as Rockets.

(M&Ms are better than the chocolate smarties)

Chocolate should not be adulterated with milk, sweeteners, nor anything else. Chocolate should be eaten in it's pure (bitter) form.


Outside consultant? for candy analysis?

Hmmm, it might be a sweet item on my business cards :-) I'll have to chew on it awhile.

As a Halloween junkie I mostly agree with this classification scheme. However, some of the lesser confections can advance to higher categories due to traditional appeal. Also you can only consume so many premier grade chocolate based candies before you need the zip or zing of a Spree or a Smarty to "cleanse the pallet".

It should be remembered that the activity is called "trick" or treat for a reason. If you gave me a popcorn ball or an apple I considered them ammo. They were coming back at your house or car as to chasten you to never give food that I could get anytime of the year from the kitchen.

C'mon an apple!? Did you imagine I was a starving street urchin that didn't have access to fruit and would view this humdrum staple as some sort of "treat"?

And those brown globs in black and orange wax paper wrappers should be considered child abuse. Why not just smear a little maple syrup on a stick? I would have enjoyed that about as much as those inedible lumps. What is that brown crap anyway?

I figured that parents just recycled those pellets the next year if they forgot to buy candy and some kid was ringing the door bell. They probably haven't actually made those since the depression.

Has there been any temporal analysis into the effect of the anti-peanut lobby (and associated health concerns of anaphylactic allergies) on the hierarchy? In particular the relative ranking of Snickers to its top tier brethren? Could this lead to a coup from below by the recently shamed Post-tertiary class of peanut free chocolates? And would there be a fierce rivalry over the leadership of the revolution between Reggie Jackson and the Three Musketeers!?

This year my daughter got pop rocks and I wondered if we had entered a time warp to the 70's. Didn't realize they were still making the stuff, you know, ever since Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial had his head blown off when he ate pop rocks with coca-cola... Anyway, she also got a mini-tub of play-doh. You would think this would low on the list, but to a three-year-old it was actually pretty appealing.

Lowney's Chocolate Covered Cherries are definitely Top Tier, a favorite of your grandmothers's. Don't forget, she was Canadian. Also, Heath Bars are Top Tier, a favorite of your mother's.

Actually, they were called Lowney's Cherry Blossoms and I'm not sure they make them anymore.

I've got to lobby for higher placement of KitKat. Any biscuit-based or wafer-based chocolate candy is awesome.

Thanks for quoting me on Baby Ruth.

I'm a little late to this year's party, so let me suggest some research topics for next year's edition.
1. Major items till missing from the hierarchy are York Peppermint Pattie, Skor*, Skittles*, and Reese's Pieces. Also, is it necessary to differentiate Strawberry Twizzlers from Licorice Twizzlers?
2. Some of the most recently evolved species appear to be hybrids of older lineages: Nutrageous, Reese's Sticks, Watchamacallit, etc.

*It should be noted that KitKat, Rolo, Skor, Skittles, and Caramello are all invasive species, originated by Cadbury in the UK. Conversely, the original Mars bar (now just barely surviving in the US under the pseudonym of Snickers Almond Crunch) was transplanted to the UK during WWII and has become a dominant species throughout Europe.

An interesting, though far from complete, survey of candy evolution in the US can be found at:

Mary Janes? Never heard of them, but when following joecab's link, I *want* some! I mean come on -- peanut butter and molasses!!! Yum!

My considerable research on the subject finds that 100 grand contains caramel and crisp rice, but is below a lesser bar the Nestle crunch which contains crisp rice but lacks caramel. Similar hierarchical anomalies exist vis-a-vis Almond Joy and Mounds which you place on different tiers, but clearly on the wrong ones. As the hypothesis that 'Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't' has yet to be disproved, clearly Almond Joy belongs with its nuttier brethren on the higher tier.

these suck.


Oh Byron nonononono they are awful! They were a lot more prevalent in the 1970's and somehow they always made it to my house. Bleh!

Swedish Fish on the bottom?! NO!

Big ups for Heath Bars/Skor Bars; definitely belong on the top or Post Tertiary level.Jujyfruits can pull the fillings out of your teeth way more effectively than Dots; they deserve a nod.Whoppers do blow; it's that waxy-ass chocolate covering. Real malted milk balls, on the other hand, rule!Tootsie Pops/Blow Pops also deserve a mention, as do the "other" Hersheys miniatures, like Krackle and Mr Goodbar.The Hershey's Symphony bars with the little toffee chips are great too.
One of the things that made Trick or treat fun was that you often got stuff you would never pick for yourself. I was never a big coconut fan as a kid, but over the years definitely developed a taste for Almond Joy, because when it was a week or two after Halloween and all you had left was Circus Peanuts, Candy Corn, and that odd, non-branded, not-quite-salt-water-taffy candy that there always seemed to be an abundance of at your grandmothers house, it was no contest. Now Almond Joy is a fave!

What about Raisinettes? I know it technically contains fruit, but being surrounded by chocolate makes up for it. Best when consumed at the movie theater. Alternate between Raisinettes and popcorn.

Whoppers--and anything with malted milk--is cruelty itself when found amid the stray candy corn (dude, seriously, if I wanted wax, I've got candles at home I can gnaw on) and hated Clark Bars (ugh--they have rightfully found candy oblivion) in the rejected sludge at the bottom of the Halloween bag. Malted milk products are sort of an aspirational fake (not even faux) chocolate, Ovaltinesque nuggets with simply the most appalling decayed-crunchy texture imaginable. I'm glad at least I didn't grow up in Australia, where something called "Ovalteenies" are said to exist.

I am quite obviously a tasteless (as in no taste buds) person. I love almost all of this candy, even "anonymous brown globs that come in black and orange wrappers"!

Kelly those are great suggestions. I am alrgielc to milk and egg, and I always loved Halloween. You're right when you say it's more about dressing up and running around than eating.I want to offer another suggestion for dealing with unsafe trick-or-treating spoils. I usually went trick-or-treating with my dad or some friends' parents while my mother stayed home handing out candy. Before I left, she would give me a hit list of candy that SHE loved (Butterfingers and Three Musketeers topped the list). If I was at a house that had no safe candy for me, I would try to find one of the things that she wanted. Instead of feeling like there was no point in taking anything, I felt like I was helping my mom who was stuck at home. When I went home, we would sort the pile into mommy candy and kid candy. I'm sure she didn't eat it all (in fact, I suspect she may have recycled some for the following year's handouts), but it made me feel useful. When I was 10, I had a huge crush on a boy who loved Nestle Crunch bars, and I made sure to get lots of those to give to him at school the next day.(Just to clarify: I wasn't particularly jealous of the unsafe candy. I knew it must be good, but so were Starbursts. I had no idea what Butterfingers of Three Musketeers were really like, so I didn't crave them)