Unpacking the world of Halloween-themed candy article by: Isabel Levin

For candy lovers like myself, Halloween is debatably the most important day of the year. We are all probably far too familiar with the staple Halloween candies, so I took it upon myself to investigate the Halloween-themed candy world. I tried the Halloween editions of mainstream candies to judge their success in revamping the original candy into something Halloween-esque. As I will discuss throughout this article, Halloween-themed candy, in my opinion, is a marketing ploy that gets consumers to buy candy in anticipation that it will be a special edition of the well-loved original, when in reality, they are not different enough. I felt it was my duty to investigate this injustice and inform my fellow candy enthusiasts on the unfortunate reality of this twisted Halloween-themed candy fiasco.

Marshmallow Monster Peeps

To kick things off, I made the decision to try Marshmallow Monsters Peeps. I categorize this as a somewhat risky decision because it is highly unlikely that Peeps would alter their basic, yet delicious, marshmallow recipe, thus leaving me with nothing to be surprised and/or excited by.

Nevertheless, the flavor of this Peep did not disappoint, but the lack of creativity did. I opened the package to be greeted by a number of Frankensteins with an unintentional variety of facial expressions, reflecting the carelessness on the part of the people at Peeps. As expected, this Peep tasted like a Peep—chewy, frothy and outright delicious. The Nickelodeon slime-esque green sugar coating of these Peeps caused a Cheetos effect due to the green sugar left on my fingers. Additionally, eating a Frankenstein-shaped Peep was certainly less morbid than the average chick shaped Peep. Frankenstein is already dead, isn’t he? Or at least half dead…

Rating: six out of 10

Candy Corn flavored M&M's

A recurring critique of these Halloween edition candies that I anticipated is they are not far off from the original candy. This, combined with confusion about what they were trying to be, was certainly true for Candy Corn M&M’s. Contrary to popular opinion, I am a big fan of candy corn. There’s just something about the overload of sweetness and strange texture that I can’t stay away from. Unfortunately for me but fortunately for most, these M&M’s tasted nothing like candy corn. The physical M&M was larger than normal, and they were matte, which was actually a little off-putting, but I do appreciate the array of fall colors they come in: white, orange and brown. Before I tried these M&M’s, I anticipated tasting the default milk chocolate inside, but was unpleasantly surprised to find they were white chocolate. My disdain for the overbearing sweetness of white chocolate did not have me coming back for more, and neither did the bland, simplistic, unexciting, candy corn lacking, M&M.

Rating: three out of 10

Pumpkin Patch Pop Rocks

The next Halloween-themed candy I tried were the Pumpkin Patch Orange Pop Rocks. The packaging features a large pumpkin, which I initially interpreted as pumpkin-flavored Pop Rocks, like many would. It was not until I was in the checkout line that I came to realize they were in fact orange flavored (as in the typical household fruit), and the designers of this package had clearly misled potential consumers.

Disappointed in the lack of Halloween flair in this Pop Rocks flavor, I opened the package to find a combination of orange and green rocks. One can’t help but wonder, what is the green supposed to represent? The grass in the pumpkin patches? The stem of the pumpkin as it is depicted in the cartoon?

This odd choice of color was certainly off-putting, as was the taste of these Pop Rocks. The orange flavor was dull, but the same old popping sensation was there. The flavor seemed to disappear after they had been in my mouth for about 10 seconds and I was left with the taste of pure sugar in my mouth. As I found with the Candy Corn M&M’s, a lack of flavor and excess sweetness does not do well in my book.

Rating: three out of 10

Zombie Sour Patch Kids

My faith in Halloween-themed candy was beginning to restore itself after trying the Zombie Sour Patch Kids. Don’t get me wrong, I was not overly impressed by these Sour Patch Kids, but they did do the Halloween theme justice. The package design of these Sour Patch Kids did have a flaw: the Frankenstein cap on the lower left Sour Patch Kid could lead one to believe that the candies will be chocolate dipped, as it did for my taste-testing counterpart.

Once I opened the package, I saw the familiar and inviting orange Sour Patch Kids, and a new face—purple Sour Patch Kids? I was pleasantly surprised to see this new color, thus making this Halloween edition slightly different than the original. I would compare the flavor of these purple Sour Patch Kids to the original red ones with a touch of grape flavor. This flavor contrasted well with the orange Sour Patch Kids as well. I applaud this interesting and Halloween appropriate take on Sour Patch Kids!

Rating: eight out of 10.

Pumpkin Pie flavored M&M's

Finally, I tackled Pumpkin Pie M&M’s, which I undoubtedly went into with low expectations after the candy corn situation. The terrified M&M on the packaging did make me feel less inclined to eat them, but I’m very glad that I did.

These M&M’s are spectacular. Like the candy corn, they have a white chocolate base, but the pumpkin pie flavor certainly delivers. A bold medley of spices is somehow packed into each M&M, delivering an especially nostalgic Thanksgiving taste, and the pumpkin has almost no artificial reminisce, tasting quite authentic.

Each M&M tastes like a bite of homemade pumpkin pie. How Mars pulled this one off, I will never know. The white chocolate does make these M&M’s a bit too sweet when eaten in large doses, but I did not think a milk chocolate base would propel the pumpkin flavor to shine through as much as it does. These Pumpkin Pie M&M’s are a must try for any lover of fall flavors!

Rating: nine out of 10.

Overall, these Halloween-themed candies generally proved my hypothesis that Halloween candy does not differ drastically from the traditional candy. There were certainly highs and lows, but I would say it is a safe decision to opt for traditional candies rather than their Halloween-themed counterparts, which generally seem to lack creativity and Halloween flair.

Isabel Levin can be reached at ilevin@umass.edu.

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