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The Best Halloween Candy Ever: A Tournament

What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Before you answer, consider just how many there are to choose from. You may love a good candy bar like Snickers, but do you really prefer it to Sour Patch Kids? If you were trick-or-treating, would you be happier to get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from your neighbor or a bag of Skittles? These questions keep us at Trivia Genius up at night like so many spooky ghosts, which is why we decided to create the (un)official Best Halloween Candy Ever tournament.

Consisting of 32 entrants assigned to random brackets and voted on by the entire Likemind team, this single-elimination endeavor was as difficult as it was delicious. Having as many contestants as soccer’s World Cup meant that we were able to choose from the full spectrum of candy; nearly every flavor profile, from fruity (Starburst, Skittles, Dots) and sour (WarHeads, Sour Patch Kids) to chocolate (Kit Kat, Hershey's Mini Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups). Even a few wild cards (Hot Tamales, Pop Rocks) were represented.

Round 1

Pile of skittles
Credit: karsten116/ Unsplash

32 candies entered the first round of the tournament, but only 16 lived to tell the tale: Skittles, Airheads, Gummy Bears, Starburst, Twix, Tootsie Rolls, Nestlé Crunch, Whoppers, Milky Way, Snickers, Kit Kat, Candy Corn, Twizzlers, Butterfinger, Sour Patch Kids, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Some of these matchups were lopsided — Butterfinger received an astounding 89.4% of the vote in its face-off against Dum Dums, while Twix took an even more impressive 93.6% over Pop Rocks — while others were true nail-biters: Hershey's Mini Bars bested Twizzlers by capturing just 51.1% of the vote. In a contest that could have easily taken place in the finals, meanwhile, Snickers toppled M&Ms with more ease than you might have expected — the beloved candy bar earned a commanding 70.2% of the vote.

Round 2

Red Twizzlers
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The second round wasn’t so easy. Skittles took on Red Vines; Gummy Bears and Starburst faced off; Twix battled Tootsie Rolls; Nestlé Crunch and Whoppers duked it out; Milky Way and Snickers went head-to-head for candy-bar supremacy; Kit Kat tested its mettle against Dots; Twizzlers and Butterfinger took each other on. And, in a contest that surely broke some hearts, Sour Patch Kids and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups went up against each other. As with Snickers vs. M&Ms, it would have been easy to imagine this round-two confrontation going down in the finals; as anyone familiar with March Madness knows, the luck of the draw counts for a lot. But, in terms of playoff dominance, Twix established itself as a force to be reckoned with by beating Tootsie Rolls unanimously.

Quarterfinals

Pile of Starbursts candies in their wrappers
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We were then down to just eight contenders, after which it was time for the quarterfinals. The candies that emerged victorious in round two were Skittles, Starburst, Twix, Crunch Bar, Snickers, Kit Kat, Butterfinger, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. There were no truly close races this time around, but Starburst beat Gummy Bears with “only” 64% of the ballots cast in their chewy confrontation. And while the tournament was seeded randomly, the quarterfinals included faceoffs between candies so similar that we couldn’t have planned this stage of the tournament better if we’d tried: Starburst vs. Skittles, Twix vs. Crunch, Snickers vs. Kit Kat, and Butterfinger vs. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. These matchups also ensured that at least one fruity candy would advance to the semifinals in a tournament dominated by chocolate.

And yet. Skittles, we hardly knew ye. 56.3% of voters opted against tasting the rainbow by choosing Starburst instead, making it the last remaining fruity option in the tournament. On the chocolate side, Twix handily defeated Crunch Bar by swaying 81.3% of the electorate, Snickers broke off more than a piece of Kit Kat when it won 53.1% of votes, and Reese's dashed Butterfinger's chances at glory by taking an even 75% of ballots. The preference for chocolate was clearly established at this point, but could Starburst be the exception to the rule?

Semi-Finals

Snickers bars in a pile
Credit: JOHN THYS/ Getty Images

The answer, it seems, was no. With Starburst vs. Twix, Starburst captured the hearts, minds, and taste buds of just 26.9% of our team, allowing Twix to race into the finals largely unscathed, while Snickers put up more of a fight in its loss against everyone’s favorite peanut butter cup — the candy bar received 42.3% of the vote, enough to leave the tournament with its crunchy nougat-filled head held high but not enough to advance to the final round. That contest would thus be between Twix and Reese’s, both of which made it through their earlier contests with relative ease: Twix never got less than 73% of votes, whereas Reese’s 57.7% showing against Snickers was its closest matchup by far. Surely this climactic battle would come down to the wire?

Finals

Peanut butter cups stacked on black background
Credit: mama_mia/ Shutterstock

Apparently not: Reese’s bested its caramelized foe by earning a full 67.9% of all ballots cast in the final, or just over two-thirds. What can we say? The allure of peanut butter mixed with chocolate is simply too tempting to resist, especially in cup form. Each full-size package comes with two of the delectable treats, which is enough to make you feel like you’re getting away with something but not so many that you feel like you’re overindulging — until you go rifling through your pumpkin-shaped bucket for more, that is. Reese’s, we hail to thee.

As it turns out, our in-house preferences align fairly closely to those of the country at large. Three million pounds of Reese's are sold in advance of Halloween each year, making it second only to Skittles (3.3 million pounds); Twix fared worse than you might expect, however, coming in 17th place behind the likes of Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, and even Candy Corn. They say there’s no accounting for taste, so it’s fortunate that there doesn’t need to be — there’s more than enough sugary treats to go around on Halloween.

Featured image credit: fcafotodigital/ iStock

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