By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It’s amazing how a certain time of year gives you cravings for something that you wouldn’t eat with a dog’s tongue.
It’s October and you will find me scarfing down pounds and pounds of candy corn. This waxy, sugary piece of candy made to resemble a kernel of corn is only acceptable to eat from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.
With the main ingredients of sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax and artificial coloring, the treat also known as Indian corn and corn candy is only edible in the early fall.
Quick history lesson, the trade association claims candy corn was invented in the 1880s by a Wunderlee Candy Company employee named George Renninger. Wunderlee was reportedly the first to produce the candy, followed by the Goelitz Candy Company, known today as the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
The long history of candy corn illustrates how U.S. Americans love two things — tradition and sweets. I’m just as guilty because I only eat fruit cake in December and those chocolate eggs around Easter.
Alongside candy corn, my other Halloween favorites are peanut butter kisses and those waxy pumpkins. Soon as Halloween is over, those candies become disgusting.
With these holiday classics floating around, we will also be targeting sweet treats we see year-round in stores. This week’s Best Sellers’ List is going to rank the best non-candy bars on the market.
Forms of bubble and chewing gum will be excluded as well, saving that countdown for another day.
Here are the honorable mentions for this breakdown: Air Heads, Mike and Ike, Sour Patch, Nerds, Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, Gummi Worms, Life Savers, Mentos, Smarties, Lemonheads, Hershey’s Kiss, Charms Blow Pops, Dum Dum Pops, Twizzlers, Boston Baked Beans, Dots, Werther’s Originals and Chick-O-Stick.
10. Kraft Caramels
These treats are the ideal way to start off this countdown. Who doesn’t smile when they pop a soft, chewy piece of caramel in their mouth?
Simply buy a bag of Kraft Caramels to enjoy in their pure form. Or if you want to make candied apples, melt them for the perfect flavor on a Granny Smith.
They make the perfect complement for several desserts and will enhance ice cream or cake. Kraft cuts out the middleman by offering bits and sauce on the market as well.
But give me a bag of caramels anytime of the year. I like them refrigerated or room temperature. Add to a bag of popcorn, and you have a great salty and sweet thing going on in your bowl.
9. Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
One day while shopping at a man’s plaza for consumer goods — Dollar Tree — I ran across a small bag of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. I thought it was Christmas in March. I grabbed three bags to enjoy throughout the day.
With what seems like an endless number of flavors, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans are fun to eat. So many different combinations will dance across your tongue like a stage.
Known as the Original Gourmet Jelly Bean, this brand can be found in premiere shops as well. The flavor is robust and rich. But here comes the reason why Jelly Belly ranks outside of my top 5: those gag flavors like dirt, booger, earthworm, soap, barf, toothpaste and the infamous rotten egg.
8. Haribo Gummy Bears
Gummy bears are a quick and simple way to get a child to shut up. They can double up as a toy as well. And of course that young child will place the fuzzy, dirty piece of candy in their mouth by the end of the day.
The best dirty gummy bear I have ever eaten came from Haribo. Haribo Gummy Gold Bears Candy is the brightest form of the treat on the market. The color draws you into buying the product for the soft, chewy and translucent treat. Then once the gummy is in your mouth, the gummies are delicious in all flavors. Great fruit flavor from the Goldbears that a 5-pound bag isn’t enough sometimes.
7. Laffy Taffy
Do you miss the old-school fat square types like me? I absolutely loved getting a bagful of Laffy Taffy. My dad would go to the corner store and buy my sister and me $1 worth each. Inside of that brown paper bag was a rainbow of sweetness. Yellow was banana. Green represented sour apple. Red wrapping covered strawberry. And the purple flavor was grape.
In recent years the packaging and shape of the candy has changed, and more flavors have been added. But two traditions that live on are the great taste and those lame jokes.
Here is some advice to you guys out there who need an icebreaker with a girl. Buy a couple of pieces of Laffy Taffy. Walk up to her and just ask the joke. The lamer the better. Guaranteed to start a conversation.
I know was not the only kid in the late 1980s running outside with a yellow shirt or sweatshirt, holding it out and praying for the sky to rain Raisinets.
I still have that dream today at the age of 38. Nestlé, you made a legendary treat with Raisinets. Chocolate-covered raisins are a simple combination. But you need the right flavor of chocolate and juicy raisins to make it perfection. Raisinets are often packed with greatness in a yellow box. To stay fresh in the market, the brand has expanded by coating raisins with dark and white chocolate. Those are good, too. What makes Raisinets so awesome is that they are convenient and easy to locate at a concession stand, supermarket, corner store and the Dollar Tree. That’s the closest we can get to it raining them.
This historic product celebrated its 78th birthday on Sept. 10. With M&M’s having such a long tradition of bringing joy to children of all ages, I know several would rank them No. 1. But I do enjoy four other products a little bit more than this powerhouse of the candy industry.
To me the worst version of this product are the plain. It’s too plain. Give me the yellow bag of peanut M&M’s any day of the week. And maybe one day I’ll do a countdown of the top 10 M&M’s flavors like peanut butter, crispy, pretzel, almond and caramel.
This candy keeps getting better with time and different interpretations. And it’s true — this candy does melt in your mouth and not your hands with the shell. But M&M’s also melt in your heart with great flavor.
4. Reese’s Pieces
I’m not a big fan of candies using peanut better. But when done right, you have to love it. While Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are beloved around the United States, I’ll take the Pieces.
Reese’s Pieces are a peanut butter candy manufactured by The Hershey Company. They are covered in candy shells that are colored yellow, orange or brown.
I want to thank E.T. for giving this treat the proper publicity it deserves. It only cost Hershey $1 million to make this candy iconic and give it a boost in sales.
Product placement is another future countdown for the Best Sellers’ List. And it works when the product is actually good. Reese’s Pieces did the rest of the work of gaining U.S. American’s attention by being awesome.
3. Milk Duds
Hershey’s back on the countdown with Milk Duds. OK, let’s get the bad out of the way. These are dangerous to eat when they are cold, frozen or stale.
But fresh Milk Duds are a small piece of heaven on earth. The simple concoction of caramel candy, covered with a confectionery coating made from cocoa and vegetable oil, is unhealthy but fantastic. Oh yeah, another warning, stay away if you have bad teeth or sensitive gums. Milk Duds will pull out your loose tooth.
You might be asking yourself at this point, how could he rank Milk Duds so high on his list. If you have healthy oral hygiene and buy a fresh yellowish-orange box of these treats, it is pure joy to your taste buds.
Soft taffy makes the list again in the form of Starburst. What makes Starburst the best of the taffy brands is the action-packed flavor. It really does burst with fruit juiciness with each bite. The Wrigley Company, a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated, hit a home run with this candy.
Starburst has many different varieties such as Tropical, Sour, FaveReds, Very Berry, Superfruit Flavor, Summer Blast and Original.
Introduced in 1960, Starburst is still a cool candy. It’s always trendy and looks the part with the “cool” kids. It being fashionable is just a part of its charm.
But the reason why Starburst is No. 2 is for what is inside. The original package offers strawberry, lemon, orange and lime. The Opal Fruits brand grew into Starburst in 1984 just in time for me to fully enjoy the name change and great taste. Now marketed as California Fruit Chews, Starbursts are phenomenal in the Golden State or Volunteer State.
The Wrigley Company has reached into the sky and given us the rainbow with the best non-candy bar candy ever — Skittles. This candy consists of hard sugar shells of fruit flavors. Stamped with an “S,” it’s the real deal. Be aware of knockoff brands and wannabes. Only one candy can deliver the sugary, fruit juice with a burst of citric acid.
What makes Skittles so awesome is marketing, the colorful arrangement and variety of flavors. The original red bag is the best. But the other options are solid like Tropical, Wild Berry, Sour and Desserts.
The rainbow must taste like blue raspberry, lemon, mandarin, watermelon, lime, blueberry, mango, peach and sour apple.
The original collection of lemon, orange, strawberry, lime and grape are like the 1996 Chicago Bulls. They will win a record amount of games, take the championship and still be the best even if their regular season accomplishment is toppled.
The best handful in the candy game is undoubtably Skittles.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.