Geekade Top Ten: Candy Bars

For many people, Halloween is all about the scares. Monsters, gore, ghosts, horror movies, and masks permeate the season, but there’s one other crucial component to the Halloween experience that can not be overlooked: candy! What’s Halloween without candy? It’s the part that lasts long after you’ve taken off your costume. Candy makes Halloween for everyone, so we’ve decided to rank our top ten candy bars to celebrate. The Stone Age Gamer Podcast’s Kris and Geekade contributing writer Jon  have created their lists, and have pitted them against one another for your amusement. So, without further ado, here’s the list!

Kris’s #10. Take 5 – Take 5 may be a relative newcomer to the world of candy bars (it was first introduced in 2004) but it’s that fact that helps solidify it on my list. In a world where names like Snickers and Milky Way had dominated for decades, Hershey managed to introduce a brand new bar to the market and have it stick. The simple name gets right to the point of the bar. It’s got 5 components: Chocolate, peanuts, caramel, peanut butter, and pretzel. And that’s all you need. Having a regular candy bar that incorporates pretzel was and still is a welcome option, and it’s a darn tasty concoction no matter how you slice it. It’s not the best bar in the world (hence the #10 spot) but it’s damn good on its own.

Jon’s #10. Almond Joy – Take 5 was a bold choice, but that particular candy still hasn’t proven itself to me. I feel like it’s still a brand new invention, as opposed to being 11 years old. Almond Joy took its time to warm up to me, mostly because coconut is an acquired taste to many. Kids often grow up despising coconut and putting Almond Joy, and its lesser half Mounds, immediately into their trade pile on Halloween night, but with the wisdom of age comes the appreciation for the wonderful simplicity of coconut filling topped with a single almond and covered in chocolate.

Kris’s #9. Nutrageous – I’ve learned to appreciate a great many things as I’ve gotten older, but coconut isn’t one of them. I respect your choice though, including your calling of Mounds lesser. Nuts make most things better, which leads me to my #9: Nutrageous. Let me be clear. If Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups could be considered candy bars, this list would look different. But since a cup isn’t a bar, it remains off limits. That said, there are several Reese’s peanut butter themed candy bars out there, and Nutrageous is a very good one. It’s been around longer than you would think, too. This was originally released as the candy bar Acclaim, but it was later rebranded as Reese’s Nutrageous, which was a smart move because it’s remained a staple in candy aisles ever since. It’s a busy bar, with peanut butter at the center, covered in peanuts and caramel, covered in chocolate, but much like Take 5, it comes together brilliantly. It’s worthy of the orange Reese’s label, and an excellent choice if I’m ever looking for something different.

Jon’s #9. Nestle Crunch – I’ll have my own choice of Reese’s bar later on. Your first two choices have quite a lot going on already. Actually, if you think about it, isn’t Nutrageous just a Take 5 without the pretzel? The top of my list is more about the simple elements, which is why the Crunch bar lands squarely here. The candy itself leaves a bit to be desired; Nestle chocolate doesn’t stand on its own and the shape of the bar is very thin. But the distribution of crunchies throughout make it genuinely fun to eat. This vague element only known as “crunchies” in any kind of candy or ice cream is actually one of my favorite ingredients. The simple feeling of plain chocolate mixed with a little crunchiness is just a good standby. If we were talking candy in other forms, this entry would be completely replaced by Buncha Crunch, the bite size version in a box. And if we were throwing away all the rules, then we’d be talking about Buncha Crunch mixed in with movie theater popcorn.

Kris’s #8. Twix – Buncha Crunch with movie popcorn sounds majestic, and shall be enjoyed at my earliest convenience. Moving on, when it comes to candy bars, I do believe that less is more. Nutrageous and Take 5 are delicious, but it’s the more simply designed candy bars that reign supreme for me. Twix though, manages to hit that sweet spot between simplicity and complexity in a very creative way. At its core, Twix is just cookie, caramel, and chocolate. That’s a delicious combination, but what elevates Twix is the genius idea of making that into 2 smaller candy bars instead of one big one. Not only does it make you feel like you just got 2 for the price of 1, but it affords each Twick (I guess that’s the singular?) the perfect chocolate coverage ratio. Twix is brilliant, and well deserving of its place on my list, despite some truly awful and obnoxious ad campaigns.

Jon’s #8. Hershey’s Bar – Simple is often the best. In this case, regular old Hershey’s milk chocolate deserves a respectable placement right here. I’m not discerning enough to go for Godiva or some other fancy variety. Hershey is a great standard for chocolate, be it in the form of a bar, chips, or syrup. And out of all the possible choices of pure chocolate bar, nothing seems to evoke Halloween more than the classic Hershey’s Bar.

Kris’s #7. Fast Break – Planting my feet firmly back in the less is more category, this other Reese’s peanut butter candy bar takes my #7 slot. The reason Reese’s Peanut Butter cups work so well is the chocolate to peanut butter ratio. This is achieved because of their cup shape. When translating that to bar form, the only way to make it stand on its own is to increase the chocolate for structural integrity. Hershey has done this in the form of the Reese’s Bar. Make no mistake, it’s damn good, but it can’t stand up to a straight up peanut butter cup, which begs the question “How do you make this formula work in bar form?” Well, one way is the Nutrageous, but that’s a complicated treat with lots of moving parts, thus negating the brilliant simplicity of the cup. Fast Break to the rescue. Fast Break maintains the perfect peanut butter to chocolate ratio while achieving the coveted bar form by adding a layer of nougat under the peanut butter. The result is a delicious, light, yet satisfying bar of delight.

Jon’s #7. 100 Grand – Remember that commercial where a group of guys are seemingly planning a heist and one boldly declares that each of them will get 100 Grand? The deeper I get into this list the more I realize how big of a role marketing and branding plays into my favorite candy choices. Anyway, 100 Grand is a great combination of two of the best elements of candy bars: caramel and rice puffs. It’s a match that could almost rival chocolate and peanut butter. Coat it all in milk chocolate and it comes together perfectly. Also notable is how 100 Grand bars are now separated into halves. It makes for a perfect portion of having one half immediately and the other half later on.

Kris’s #6. Hershey’s Bar – You’re absolutely right regarding marketing’s role in candy choices, but it isn’t any kind of TV commercial that helps put my #7 where it is. It’s the packaging. Like I said earlier, I generally like to keep things simple. Complicated candy bars can be great, but there’s something to be said of something as pure and clean as a Hershey’s Bar. It may not be the most sophisticated chocolate known to man, but damn if it isn’t tasty. It’s also perforated in such a way that it can be easily enjoyed in small bursts or eaten whole hog. But what makes me pick one of these up more often than not is just the sight of one. The bold, simple, clean packaging just screams “chocolate.” In fact, this iconic packaging is what most people probably associate with the words “chocolate bar” in general. It’s been imitated countless times, but never properly duplicated. The pain ol’ Hershey’s Bar is a spectacular candy bar, now and forever.

Jon’s #6. Reese’s Sticks – You’ve talked a lot about Reese’s Cups already, and out of all the Reese’s candy bars that there are, Reese’s Sticks are the closest competitor. Given the right mood, they even one-up their cup counterpart. The wafers in between the peanut butter add a perfect crispiness. You might even say it’s Reese’s answer to the Kit Kat.

Kris’s #5. 3 Musketeers – Reese’s sticks are a thing of beauty, and I am glad they wound up on your list because they clearly deserve mention. But again, I love me some simple stuff, and 3 Musketeers is almost as simple as you can get. It’s light, fluffy, delicious nougat coated is a thin layer of chocolate. I think what makes this bar so exceptional though is the proportions. They seriously are just right. If the chocolate was any thicker, the bar would just taste wrong. Somehow, these musketeers have perfected the very concept of restraint, and made something beautiful. There was also that whole ad campaign that tried to tell us that 3 Musketeeers bars are somehow a healthy snack. I know it’s complete BS, but I can’t say I haven’t used it as an excuse to buy one of these without the guilt.

Jon’s #5. Twix – As George Costanza would remind us, Twix is the only candy bar with the cookie crunch. (The candy bar line up is one of the best moments of Seinfeld). The combination of caramel and cookie covered in chocolate is an absolute classic. And just like the last two entries, having a package of two bars makes for great portions. Then again, even the mini version is surprisingly satisfying, unlike most so-called fun size candies.

Kris’s #4. Milky Way – Now this is where the ranking started getting really tough. Milky Way is a spectacular candy bar. It’s everything a 3 Musketeers is, except more compact, and with caramel. It takes everything the 3 Musketeers does, takes it to the next level, and does so with grace and style. It’s not bulky, not too filling, and always leaves you feeling satisfied. It’s got that whole cosmic theme too, so you can pretend you’re eating candy from space. Plus, if milk chocolate isn’t your thing, you can always grab its dark chocolate (and equally delicious) cousin, Milky Way Midnight.

Jon’s #4. Kit Kat – It really is down to the candy staples now. Kit Kats have that same great crispy wafer, four sections, and the jingle that just makes it downright timeless. I actually don’t know how to describe the filling in between the wafers. What is that stuff? Some candies just nail their own flavors so well that they might as well be named after them. Kit Kat filling. I’m at a loss for how else to describe the sugary goodness. See also: Butterfinger (a tough cut from my list). A Butterfinger isn’t exactly peanut butter in the center, it’s a completely unique flavor.

Kris’s #3. Nestle Crunch – Speaking of candy staples, for my money, it doesn’t’ get much better than puffed rice covered in delicious chocolate. And no offense to Krackel, nobody does it better than Nestle Crunch. Like you said, the crunchies distribution here is damn near flawless, but the brilliance goes a step further than that. Yes, it is a thin bar, but on top of that thinness is a thicker chocolate border and the word Crunch. This extra bit of raised chocolate text is not only novel, but it adds just the right overall amount of chocolate to the affair. True, the same effect could be achieved by more evenly distributing the chocolate in a flat, yet thicker bar, but I’m awarding points for style. Broken down to its elements, it’s some sub-par chocolate with crunchies in it. But Crunch is more than just the sum of its parts. When it all comes together, it’s one of the best candy bars there is.

Jon’s #3. Milky Way – This is the part where we agree on the best…but disagree on the very best. Milky Way is, without a doubt, the best pure use of caramel in a candy bar. You might call it the younger sibling of Snickers, it has basically the same core, minus the peanuts. I could genuinely go back and forth on which one is better, given my mood, but more on that soon…

Kris’s #2. Kit-Kat – A respectable Milky Way placement. However, it doesn’t get much better than a Kit Kat for me. You’re absolutely right about that indescribable sugary filling between the wafers. It’s got to be ground up unicorn horns or something, because it’s what makes dreams come true. Seriously though, this is one of the most flawless treats around. The wafers give you a sense of eating something substantial, while the sugary marvel dust and chocolate tie it all together in a delicious candy treat. It’s breakable segments make it perfect in nearly any shape (even the BS Fun Size edition) and it’s delicious in a myriad of flavors. No joke, there are like 500 flavors of Kit Kat in Japan, and that just goes to show the versatility of this bar. If peanut butter Kit Kats were a thing in America, this might be a different looking list, but there’s something undeniable about the wonder of original recipe Kit Kat. Break me off a piece any time you like.

Jon’s #2. Snickers – 500 flavors of Kit Kat in Japan also shows how different Japanese candy is. I bet the  green tea version is the most popular. So here’s my shocking pick for the list: Snickers is only number 2. It’s truly a great candy bar, maybe even the most definitive one there is. Chocolate, peanuts, nougat, and caramel are all the great foundations of candy. Any two of those ingredients paired together make a fine candy bar. But all of them combined form the ultimate treat. It’s an absolute Halloween mainstay and during the rest of the year we have those commercials with Hungry people morphing into celebrities when they don’t eat a Snickers.

Kris’s #1. Snickers – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Snickers, for my money, is the perfect candy bar. It’s complex without being complicated. It’s filling without filling you up. It’s sweet with just the right amount of salty. It’s perhaps the only candy bar I can think of that isn’t improved with peanut butter. (Nothing against Peanut Butter Snickers. They’re delicious) Snickers is the perfect little package. They’re good frozen or thawed, big or bite-size, on their own or chopped up as an ice cream topping. Snickers is as versatile as anything, and never needs to leave its original form to do so. It’s even got damn-near perfect marketing in the form of a catchy name, simple yet bold packaging, and has become synonymous with the word “satisfying.” Snickers all the way. Now, let’s all find out just what the heck Jon claims is better than candy bar perfection.

Jon’s #1. 5th Avenue – An elusive gem. I haven’t been able to find it recently in stores around me, and I always remember 5th Avenues being the rare treats mixed in with the rest of the classics in my Halloween bag (or pillow case as I got older). This candy is the definition of that nameless flavor I described earlier. I guess its technically a peanut butter style crisp in the middle, but it’s not quite that. It’s more and it’s better. The texture is perfect too. Unlike the sort of molten rock in the center of a Butterfinger, 5th Avenue has truly great layering going on. For my money, it’s the perfect combination of flavor and texture coated once again in milk chocolate. Now someone please tell me where I can find some.

Final thoughts

Jon, with the surprise 5th Avenue bar at the last minute! A very bold choice indeed. I can honestly say that I’ve never tried one of those before, and will now be making it a personal mission of mine. But this just goes to show that candy bars are an interesting animal. We’ve been sitting pretty with pretty much the same ones for a very long time, and while there have been tons of variations, bars like Milky Way, Snickers, and even 5th Avenue, will seemingly always be there to keep our trick-or-treating trips interesting, and our bellies full of delicious sugary treats. What are your favorites? Have we forgotten some sort of wondrous gem? Should Charleston Chew be #1? Sound off in the comments!

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