The candy bonanza that is American trick-or-treat is a relatively newish thing. When sugar rationing ended after World War II and candy manufacturers looked at Halloween and saw a potential gold mine of marketing opportunity, this thoroughly modern concept of getting handfuls of Fun Size chocolate bars and tiny bags of Skittles began to root itself. Paste asked various Baby Boomers about their earliest Halloween memories, they described getting pencils, coins, sticks of chewing gum, apples, popcorn balls, and other such quaint things (one person even mentioned donuts, which I think we should resurrect somehow). Halloween parties were also a larger part of the celebration, too, and they included the germ-tastic ritual of bobbing for apples, as well as the making of fudge (right on) and offering caramel apples (not bad).
So think about that as you’re dividing up your candy haul this Halloween. Is a bunch of blechy candy better than a pillowcase full of pencils and apples? We all have our candy preferences, sure, but somehow these markedly unpopular candies keep showing up every year. I will take a lovely pencil over them any day.
dave ungar CC BY-SA
What, is this Sweden? Iceland? This is America, and we have simple palates that want sugar without your spooky old medicinal herbs.
Steven Depolo CC BY
Including Double Bubble, Bazooka and its ilk. Chewing gum technology has grown by leaps and bounds since the days when nickels had pictures of bees on ‘em, and we now prefer the kind of gum that stays soft and supple for longer than 30 seconds.
Rachel CC BY-ND
These peanut-molasses candies (one a popular flavor combination, no kidding) are not bad, in theory. In reality, they are sad, ossified shingles that the waxed paper wrapper always sticks to so there’s paper bits on the rigid peanut-molasses taffy you’re gamely trying to soften up in your mouth.
torbakhopper CC BY-ND
First of all, they are boring. Also, their delicate structure makes them prone to shattering in transit—Halloween candy get pretty jostled on trick-or-treat night. And lollipop dust in a wrapper with a naked stick is not appealing.
Present-day Halloween is not the time to sock it to Big Food and eschew branding. No one likes these and no one eats them.
Joel Kramer CC BY
Smarties are amazing in comparison. Necco wafers are bland with the texture of cardboard, the communion wafers of the candy world. You could probably use them to play tiddlywinks.
Ged Carroll CC BY
See #1. This is weird old man candy, and it also looks like contraband pharmaceuticals.
Mike Mozart CC BY
I don’t think anyone actually hands these out anymore, so you’re probably safe. If you have orthodontics and need some extra wax for your braces, though, those lips might come in handy. If you want to be unpopular with kids and parents alike, bundle wax lips together with a packages of candy cigarettes and hand those out.
Larry Jacobsen CC BY
One thing about old-fashioned candies is that they are not as popular as they once were, and so their turnover in the store can be slower. That’s the only reason we can think of that these honey-flavored taffy candies—which are actually not too terrible when soft—are so often hard and stale. Steer clear of these if you have a crown (on your tooth, silly, not on your head).
Michael Lehet CC BY-ND
I love Tootsie Rolls in nearly every form, even the flavored ones. But only when they are soft, and half of the time they suffer the same fate of Bit-o-Honeys and Mary Janes. Some things are better when they are stiff, and Tootsie Rolls are not one of them.
Steven Depolo CC BY
My kid likes these for real. She’s probably the only one, but please don’t give your extras to her. I’m trying to show her the light.
Kristin Brenemen CC BY-ND
Not candy, and also they get smashed during trick-or-treating under other, heavier items that actually are candy. So when/if you open the so-called “treat pack” you get a handful of salty crumbs. Same goes for little packages of Teddy Grahams or other not-so-awesome crackers and cookies.
Jean-Pierre CC BY-SA
*Only bad when there’s a rancid peanut in one of them. Such a bummer, because everyone knows that a bag of M&M’s is a trick-or-treat score. Please do better with your peanut quality control, Mars.