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6 Best And 8 Worst Old-School Halloween Treats

Bucket of Halloween candy
Bucket of Halloween candy - Eli_asenova/Getty Images

There may be intriguing new candy creations cropping up every year to sweeten up your Halloween, but it's the old-school classics that haunt the trick-or-treat memories of generations of costumed kiddos. Sure, everyone was happy to get a full-sized Snickers or a grocery store pack of Bubble Yum while candy corn always left us bitter. But the trickiest treats of all were the ones that turned the most candified holiday of the year on its pointed ear, and transformed every treat bag into a minefield of hits and misses. So many up-and-down retro options made getting the best or worst Halloween candy a real roll of the dice.

Vintage treats didn't always take youngsters into consideration. Some candies presented as front door offerings were downright boring, like peanut butter kisses and Nik-L-Nips will attest. Did we eat them when there was nothing left in the bag but wrappers and disappointment? Of course, we did. But we didn't enjoy them, wishing all the while we'd been a little slower eating the better bites. While some of these sugary goodies were destined for the garbage bin, others made an indelible impression and informed our childhoods as unforgettable pleasures of the Halloweens past.

Read more: The Best Desserts You've Never Heard Of

Best: Chick-O-Stick

Chick-O-Stick candy bars
Chick-O-Stick candy bars - Amazon

Imagine the inside of a Butterfinger without the outer layer of chocolate, and you're on the right track for remembering what Chick-O-Stick was all about. A peanut buttery honeycomb candy that crackled like a chattering skeleton, Chick-O-Stick ramped up the crisp creaminess without the fudgy skin getting in the way. It removed the busy work of scraping the coating off of a real Butterfinger to focus on the core of the candy. There was also a sprinkling of toasted coconut in the recipe — a chewy bonus that only made Halloween happier.

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Chick-O-Stick got its start as a product of Atkinson Candy Company in the 1950s and never really went away. It's still available in a variety of forms, but the fact that it doesn't find its way into trick or treat buckets clues us in on its antiquity. It may have been replaced by more tantalizing goodies, but it will always be a true thriller in our hearts.

Worst: Necco Wafers

Necco wafer roll
Necco wafer roll - Amazon

How can a company that excels at making Valentine's Day conversation hearts fail so miserably at a Halloween candy? Granted, Spangler's Necco Wafers weren't exclusively a Halloween nibble. But when your fingers brushed a roll at the bottom of your bag, for a moment you might have mistaken it for a roll of quarters instead of chalky dust-covered candy. You'd pull it from the other treats, realizing you hadn't hit the money motherlode but rather the jackpot of despair. Even the weird vellum wrapper made every roll look like a relic. Based on the archaic snap of each wafer, they probably were. And the weird flavors, including a mint that tasted like straight-up Pepto Bismol, only added to the collective wish that these sorrowful chips would age out of the trick or treat system.

Maybe the reason this candy feels so old-school is because it's so old, period. They appeared on the scene in 1847, almost 200 years ago, and they seem to have changed very little since. Though Necco Wafers made a suspicious disappearance for a few years, they eventually returned. That doesn't mean you have to eat them.

Best: Bubble Gum Cigarettes

Boxes of bubble gum cigarettes
Boxes of bubble gum cigarettes - Amazon

Smoking is undeniably one of the unhealthiest habits humans can engage in. Before science was able to weigh in and reach the hearts and minds of the public (and the government), bubble gum cigarettes were a Halloween treat that encouraged youngsters to emulate adults in an innocuous version of what amounts to inhaling flaming poison. With these chewable facsimiles, everyone could puff like movie stars or action heroes, all of whom set terrible examples. But in those less informed times, if you were lucky enough to find a box in your sugar sack, you had something special. If your spooky season indulgence turned into a sugary addiction, you could find yourself jonesing for a pack a day, maybe more. Not the best result, but considering these coffin nails were only bubble gum, there was no harm done that couldn't be fixed with proper dental care.

Joking aside, studies show brand recognition in children can create unwanted associations that last long into adulthood, even with candy cigarettes (per the National Institutes of Health). So, while it's all fun and candy in our memories, throwback Halloween candies like bubble gum cigarettes are probably best left in the past.

Worst: Caramel Creams

Pile of caramel cream candies
Pile of caramel cream candies - Amazon

What a weird texture these candies have. Caramel creams are composed of a caramel swirl that surrounds a creamy disc, a combination that should have been far more delicious based on that description. Yet somehow, so much Halloween potential went to waste when the finished product was discovered to be chewable misery. The caramel is oddly waxy, the cream is strangely powdery, and the whole thing breaks into its separate components after the first bite. Eating caramel creams is not a happy phenomenon in the world of treats, though handing them out yourself is probably a pretty royal trick to pull on people you don't particularly care for.

For anyone who didn't learn their lesson with the lowercase version of caramel creams, Cow Tales candy is an uppercase bar version created by the same company, Goetze's Candy. You can also find an unsettling combination in flavors like Brownie and Apple, which may help matters. But we can't imagine how that's possible.

Best: Chuckles

Box of Chuckles candy
Box of Chuckles candy - Amazon

Who could be unhappy reaching into their pillow case and pulling out a candy called Chuckles? Sometimes in a multipack and sometimes individually wrapped, Chuckles were giant sugar-crusted gumdrops that gave us a taste for gummy bears that would soon flood the candy scene. These were oversized and pectin-like, letting your teeth slide through the surface and bite through to the bottom with no effort whatsoever. And the crunch of the crystal-sweet coating gave contrast to the chewy interior in a way that made every bite a sweet symphony. We didn't know how sophisticated our candy tastes were back then. We just knew what we liked, and we liked Chuckles.

This quality candy has lasted over 100 years, a miraculous milestone for a treat we actually looked forward to getting in our Halloween grab bag. Workers at the factory have fond recollections of creating the confections for the Fred W. Amend company in Chicago. This is one goodie we wouldn't mind unwrapping every October 31st.

Worst: Peanut Butter Kisses

Bag of Peanut Butter Kisses
Bag of Peanut Butter Kisses - Amazon

This last resort treat is the stuff of nightmares — a grandma candy that always seems to have rolled out of the candy factory a hundred years ago, no matter when you unwrap it. Sometimes mistaken for Mary Janes, a similar candy launched by the Charles N. Miller company in 1914, peanut butter kisses are the Halloween equivalent of a fruitcake, a collection of pieces that's been regifted into treat bags again and again for decades.

The only time trick-or-treaters ever relish tasting this much-maligned mush that sometimes comes with a daub of real peanut butter in the middle is when they've run out of all other options. Even then, it's a dice roll as to whether or not the unlucky soul who made it past the wax paper would finish the whole bite or chew it like gum before spitting it out. The Halloween world has never been fond of these nuggets of nastiness. They were banned in High Point, North Carolina at one point by the Emperor of Acceptable Candy. Fake rulerhood notwithstanding, maybe it was a great idea to get rid of a candy whose time has obviously come.

Worst: Fruit Stripe Gum

Fruit Stripe Gum packets
Fruit Stripe Gum packets - Facebook

Is it worth even chewing a piece of Fruit Stripe Gum to get 30 whole seconds of flavor? You'll just be set up for heartbreak, knowing you need another piece, and another, repeating the experience until the whole pack is gone. And if this was the only gum you found among your more tempting treats, you'd be finished in under five minutes max. This is what gum tastes like when you whisper the names of fruits against strips of latex, and dust them with powdered sugar so they don't stick together.

The dazzling label featuring Yipes the Zebra really suckers you into thinking you're in for a good time. Even the colorful foils hint at a prime experience to make your Halloween a real humdinger. But that's just sugary smoke and mirrors, and every kid who ever found a pack in their sack knew it. It's likely a core memory that made them question their life choices for a very long time. For anyone hoping to relive the Fruit Stripe Gum trauma, the gum is still around and still tastes the same. The word on Influenster is that reviewers love the nostalgia, which has long outlived the temporary taste.

Best: Smarties

Rolls of Smarties candy
Rolls of Smarties candy - Amazon

In 1949, Ce De Candy, Inc. began making Smarties, a cylinder of straight-up sugar pills that some kids believed gave them genius-level intelligence. Not to be confused with chocolate-based Smarties from the U.K., American Smarties gave reality to the antiquated concept of a smart pill. Some kids believed they could pop a few whenever they needed a brain boost. There was no truth behind the mythology, other than the little sugar boost that may have added a bit of energy to our thought processes. But having a tangy, crunchable column that snapped open with a twist of the scalloped ends made kids feel like they'd tapped into something more special than the usual bits and bonbons in the bag. Finding 15 candies in each roll made it seem like you had more treats than you could shake a stick at, too. Ah, to figure out how to be so easily delighted as a grown-up.

Considering that there are only five ingredients in Smarties, these charming caplets are possibly one of the most prudent confection choices you can make. Sure, they're still candy. But all that sugar consumption had to turn into wisdom at some point.

Worst: Bit-O-Honey

Bit-O-Honey candy pieces
Bit-O-Honey candy pieces - Amazon

More like Bit-O-Yucky. There may have been real honey in the recipe, but the prospect of tasting it in a gooey glob that was sometimes hard enough to undo dental work was less than sweet. Sometimes, the paper would stick to the candy, and you'd spend enough time unwrapping it to figure out that it wasn't worth the effort. This is another example of candy from an era where simplicity trumped enjoyment, a treat that may have made an ancestor's Halloween feel like a triumph, but has no place in a future where even cheap candy making has become an industrial art.

The truth about Bit-O-Honey is that it's an old candy that feels old, tastes old, and is just an old idea that doesn't inspire a ton of joy. Even the acquisition of the product by Spangler Candy Company in 2020 couldn't reboot these chewy catastrophes. No hive mind is strong enough to forget the sadness of receiving Bit-O-Honey instead of something even a little better. Like a box of raisins. Or a dime.

Best: Chunky

Chunky bar wrapper
Chunky bar wrapper - Amazon

A solid cube of chocolate marketed as a candy bar? Yes, please! Chunky compressed a full-sized treat into a concentrated block, and turned ordinary ingredients into something that felt more like a gold bar than foodstuff when rummaging around in the candy catcher. This was a literal chunk of chocolate that we could really sink our teeth into. No more making do with flat Hershey Original bars — no siree! We had a substantial sweet that could stand up to our appetite for candy, lasting well into the first day of November if we played our cards right. We could even break it into fourths to share with friends if we felt generous enough. Chunky was a bit of all right all around.

The heartbreak of finding out a candy made since the 1930s is out of production is enough to make us linger in the wistful yesteryears when we had no idea such a thing could happen. But if you listen closely on Halloween, you might hear a Chunky rustle into your bag thanks to continued listings of stock on Amazon.

Worst: Nik-L-Nips

Pile of wax candy bottles
Pile of wax candy bottles - Amazon

Wax bottles filled with syrup only seem awesome. With Nik-L-Nips, the liquid inside each bottle was throat-searing, overly sweet enough to make the idea of chewing on the wax for a while afterward a necessary step in the recovery process. These were penny candy from the good ol' days, and they were hardly worth the cent our great-grandparents had to shell out for them. Imagine teasing kids on Halloween with a candy that wasn't really edible, but was chewable, and that had a drop of brightly colored syrup in it that turned out to be disgusting when you finally tasted it. Situations like this are where trust issues begin, plaguing serious treat lovers on trick-or-treat nights for years to come.

Vinny Cavallo created Nik-L-Nips in the 1900s, so they've been around the block for a while. But anyone who doesn't think the folklore tells the real story is free to test out Nik-L-Nips for themselves to see. Tootsie Company, the candy crafters behind rolls and pops, are currently producing wax bottle "candies" to bring distrust into the modern candy era. Try them at your own peril.

Worst: Bazooka

Bazooka bubble gum and comic
Bazooka bubble gum and comic - Twitter

Otherwise known as the Filling Remover, Bazooka was a true hit-or-miss in the Halloween treat world back in the day. If you were lucky enough to get a few fresh pieces, you could overload your jaw with bubble gum goodness while laughing at the dad joke comic strip that came in every wrapper. If you were less fortunate, you'd find a rock-hard brick that you believed would be worth chewing if you just let it soften up a little first. The sad truth was that it never softened up again, no matter how long you held it in your cheek waiting for the miracle moment. It was as soft as it would ever be, a texture that rivaled concrete. And it didn't even taste all that great.

Russian immigrant Morris Shorin is the man who originated Bazooka bubble gum, all the way back in post-World War II America, though the well-known Bazooka Joe comics didn't make an appearance in the wrapper until 1953. There's no denying the staying power of this bubble gum behemoth. Denying it's potential as a tooth-cracker that's not worth taking a chance on is another story.

Best: Mr. Bones

Mr. Bones skeleton candy coffin
Mr. Bones skeleton candy coffin - Facebook

Long live Mr. Bones, a sugared skeleton puzzle that came in its own handy coffin carrying case. The crunch pieces were really no different from Pez or SweeTarts, yet the novelty of having an edible jigsaw to put together added a dimension of playfulness to the tasty labor of going door to door to beg for candy. Oh, the sweet exhilaration of dragging out a Mr. Bones box like a grave robber, and opening up the seal to find all his pieces shaken about and ready to be reassembled! It was a game, a multi-piece candy, and a treasure chest all in one — perhaps the truest treat that ever tricked.

For Gen-Xers, the memory of Mr. Bones is a ride backward to a time when interactive candy was a peak experience. Even a confection as clever as FunDip couldn't match the magic of this magnificent little ghoul in his hideaway haven. The whole notion even inspired more ghoulishness, as related by Reddit commenter deephurting66, who shares, "I had a friend that put her dead goldfish in the coffins and had a funeral for them in her backyard." Now that's taking Halloween to new depths of creativity.

Worst: Candy Buttons

Strips of candy buttons
Strips of candy buttons - Amazon

The vision of candy buttons spooled on infinite rolls in old-time candy shoppes where the clerks wore bow ties and barbershop quartet hats is like a scene from a childhood dream. Too bad the horrifying reality of these pellets is that receiving candy buttons at Halloween was one of the 20th Century's cruelest tricks. Was there a way to get the candy away from the backing without leaving a bit of paper? Most likely. Did any trick-or-treaters ever learn the magic method so they could enjoy their loot without having a spit wad stuck in their throats? Probably not.

Though these never-ending reels of confection have been around since the 1930s as a product of the Cumberland Valley Company, their time was up long ago. The bottom line is that candy shouldn't take work to enjoy. That's the whole point of trick-or-treating, to get an easy cache of sugary treasure that comes to you easily and goes down smoothly. Having to wrangle with little strips of wrapper to enjoy what was little more than a mound of sugar shouldn't be part of the package.

Read the original article on Mashed.