Food & Drink

The 22 Worst Halloween Candies Known to Man

worst candy
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Halloween's that magical time of year when we actively encourage kids to take candy from strangers (who are often wearing masks). It's... confusing. But the mixed messages are worth it, given all the amazing free candy you can take from kids while they're sleeping. And while we'd never complain about the generosity of a kindhearted stranger handing over candy... oh, screw it. Yes we will.

There's a fine line between the best Halloween candy and the 22 "treats" on this list. Seriously, we appreciate you for spending money to make children happy. But don't waste you hard-earned cash on the 22 worst Halloween candies. And please don't convert your hard-earned dollars into pennies for trick or treaters. That's just the worst. Well, the second worst.

22. Wax Lips

Every year some dude tells me these aren’t candy, and I should’t eat them. And every year, I say, “Look, Dr. Adamson, I don’t tell you how to practice gastrointestinal medicine, so you don’t tell me how do my job of identifying food.” Then, after another operation to remove a mass of wax from my duodenum, I promise to never let this happen again.

almond joy
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

21. Almond Joy/Mounds

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. But it’s unlikely you ever really feel like an Almond Joy or a Mounds.

20. 3 Musketeers

Fun fact: 3 Musketeers got its name because it was originally split into three flavors, Neapolitan style. But then something changed, and it just became chocolate-covered nougat. It’s like the factory machine broke, and instead of fixing it, the worker said “screw it” and stormed out of the building. These are unfinished Milky Ways. I'd rather watch the Leonardo DiCaprio version of The Man in the Iron Mask than eat these. 

19. Hard grandma candies

It's very likely that these were purchased by some sweet old lady who used part of her Social Security check to ensure she had something to give out to the kids. But there's also the chance that you're receiving these from some tightwad who bought a candy dish at an estate sale and is just getting rid of the contents, which is as morbid as the previous scenario is sweetly sad. Also, these are terrible. 

18. SweeTarts

These are perfect if your kid's costume is "late-'90s drug dealer at a rave." On the plus side, if you want your kid to have an aversion to pills, throw some of these in your amateur D.A.R.E. education kit. 

17. Bootleg gummies

Severed fingers, ghosts, or any other shape be damned. It’s Haribo or nothing.

16. Candy corn

Candy corn is extremely divisive. On the one hand, you have people who claim it’s too sweet, has the texture of coarse wax, and tastes like a mouthful of chewy high-fructose corn syrup. On the other hand, you have liars who pretend to like it because they think it will make people like them. Sometimes, they’re the same person.

15. Fireballs

I’ll take my fake-cinnamon sugar bomb in shot form, thank you very much.

14. Tootsie Rolls

To be abundantly clear, I’m not talking about the flavored Tootsie Rolls -- vanilla, orange, lime, cherry, and lemon -- that just might be the most underrated piece of candy in the entire Halloween bag. I’m talking about the old-school, chocolate-adjacent ones that populate at the bottom of the bag. The bigger they are, the worse they taste. The flavor here is just bizarre. It's like aliens came to Earth, heard somebody describe chocolate, then tried to recreate its flavor based on their memories of that conversation. 

13. Pixy Stix

Hey, at least they’re honest about what they are. And they come with a straw, in case you want to just go ahead and snort them to get it over with quicker.

12. Bazooka Gum

1948 called, and it wants its gum back! Hahahahahaha. Oh, wait, no, 1948 doesn’t want this shit either.

11. Fun Dip

Fun Dip is just Pixy Stix with a Narcissus complex. That sugar stick, though... 

10. Sixlets

For real, do these little, round, candy-coated balls that are pretty much the exact circumference of a toddler’s trachea even exist beyond Halloween? Because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them in April. My theory, given the taste, is that the machine that makes them is used to make little balls of bath soap 360 days out of the year. Then the Sixlets crew comes in, forgets to clean the machine, and makes these odd little balls of disappointment.

9. Good & Plenty

What kind of monster would take black licorice and make it look like white and purple Mike & Ike’s? Seriously? I have a feeling that the guy who invented this came up with them after a series of food pranks, like sucking the cream out of a Twinkie and replacing it with mayonnaise. I bet it was Ike. Mike would never try to pull that.

8. Hot Tamales

Are these cultural appropriation? Or is this just Ike being a trickster again? Either way, they’re gross.

7. Non-Laffy Taffy

Honestly, if you live in a seaside town with a boardwalk and probably some teenage vampires and Coreys, this is probably a pretty sweet score. But unless you’re getting Laffy Taffy, you’re getting the hand-wrapped, wax-paper version. And I can’t think of a candy that would be easier to slip a small sharp object into then haphazardly re-wrap.

Yeah, I know that doesn't really happen. But I would honestly rather eat saltwater taffy with a shard of glass in it that those gross peanut butter taffies in bright-orange wrappers.  

6. Mary Janes

Speaking of gross peanut butter taffy, this is exactly that. But hard. I never knew whether that was by design, because I’m pretty sure they stopped making these in the ’30s but had such a surplus that they keep repackaging them with new expiration dates. Eventually, they’ll re-market them as peanut brittle. And even then, nobody will care.

5. Bit-O-Honey

Bit-O-Honey is apparently honey taffy with chunks of almonds in it. I actually had to look that up, despite periodically (I have a problem) consuming them for three decades. They basically taste like somebody ate a bunch of nuts, didn’t swallow them, chewed some gum, spat it out, formed it into a brick, and then let it dry. And that actually makes it sound better than it is.

4. Dubble Bubble

If this rock-hard gum existed in comic books, they’d use it to make Wolverine’s claws. This isn’t candy, it’s a weapon.

3. Smarties

When I was a little kid, I distinctly remember getting pelted with rolls of Smarties as clowns rained them down on unsuspecting children from a parade float. And honestly, I’d rather endure getting beaned in the dome by a creepy-ass small-town clown than chew on these little discs of flavored chalk. My therapist can back me up on this.

2. Anything that isn’t candy

Pretzels, pennies, fruit snacks… we get it. You want to participate, but you don’t want to contribute to childhood obesity. Maybe next year, you should dress up as a knight, just to make your high horse feel like its participating in a group costume.

And if you’re the kind of person who gives out a toothbrush, well, I hope you realize that discarded plastic toothbrushes given out on Halloween contribute more volume to the floating island of garbage in the middle of the ocean than plastic straws do.

OK, I made that up. Which was kind of an dick move. So is giving kids toothbrushes on Halloween.

1. Necco Wafers

Necco Wafers have been disappointing children since James Polk was president. So earlier this year, when it was announced that the factory that makes them in Revere, Massachusetts, was closing, it was a bittersweet revelation. On the one hand, a 170-year-old institution was dying, taking with it some much-needed jobs. On the other, I was slightly glad to discover that I was raising a child who might never know the horrors of popping one of these dusty things in her mouth and discovering what chalk tastes like. The conflict was real.

Well, it turns out it was temporary. The company that makes Circus Peanuts is adding Necco Wafers to its own upsetting candy family (whether the Revere factory will re-open is still up in the air). And honestly, this is a good thing. Because being disappointed in Necco Wafers brings generations together. In these divided times, it bridges all politics. So God bless you, Necco Wafers. You'll be welcome in my wastebasket any time. 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Andy Kryza is a senior editor at Thrillist who will unashamedly eat each and every one of these treats, whether he likes them or not. Including the pennies. Follow him to another awkward visit to Dr. Adamson @apkryza.