Welcome back to Part 2 of the Candy Countdown!! If you haven’t already done so please peruse Part 1 to see if your favorite made the list…or if it might be yet to come. And definitely leave some comments!! I am genuinely eager to get inside the minds of other chocoholics. We’ve got to stick together, right?? Sure, we all know we’d be better off consuming tofu or spinach or kale smoothies, and I applaud those that are successful in leading healthy lifestyles. However, I like Shakespeare’s guidance “to thine own self be true”, so I won’t apologize for liking what I like. While I am trying to make smarter food choices and improve my overall well-being, the truth is that I can’t ever see myself completely giving up candy of my own free volition. I believe “everything in moderation” is wise counsel, and so that is how I shall proceed. Anyway, thanks for stopping by for the exciting conclusion. Enjoy.
14 Mounds / Almond Joy
An unavoidable tie because…well…sometimes I feel like a nut, and sometimes I don’t (come on…you know I just had to go there). These candies were created by a Connecticut confectioner named Peter Paul, which was bought out by Cadbury in 1978, who then sold it to Hershey a decade later. Mounds was first produced in 1921 and was a favorite of American soldiers in World War II. Almond Joy came along a couple of decades later. Both candy bars come packaged with two bite sized pieces. Mounds is simply coconut covered in dark chocolate, while Almond Joy includes a couple of almonds on top of the coconut that is then covered in milk chocolate. I am not typically a fan of coconut. It smells nice and I enjoy the flavor, but it’s usually too chewy and prone to getting stuck in my throat. However, with Mounds & Almond Joy the coconut has a creaminess that helps it go down smooth. My only complaint about these candy bars is that I typically have to eat a few of them to be satisfied. Perhaps that is part of a nefarious plot.
Rejected names for this candy bar included Thingamajig, Doohickey, & Fiddle Faddle. Actually the latter moniker was already taken by a popcorn & peanut mix covered in caramel & toffee that was invented in the late 1960’s, about a decade before Hershey created Whatchamacallit. Anyway, this is a thick, sturdy hunk o’ candy consisting of peanut butter flavored crispies with a layer of caramel on top, all enveloped in milk chocolate. When one bites into a Whatchamacallit you know you’re eating something…substantial. It has width & heft, and its scarcity makes stumbling upon one a real treat. It’s the sixth man of candy bars…not a star player but something that’ll consistently come off the bench and give you some much needed points & rebounds. That’s a basketball analogy for all you non-sports types in The Manoverse. And by the way, Hershey did actually produce a companion bar called Thingamajig a few years ago that was essentially the same formula except it had chocolate flavored crispies in place of the peanut buttery ones. I’m sorry I missed out on that.
12 Peppermint Patties
When I bite into a Peppermint Pattie I get the cool sensation of skiing naked down a mountain in the Swiss Alps, only to awaken from my slumber and discover that I actually just left the air conditioner on in my apartment. Okay okay, I’ll stop. Let’s answer one burning question right off the bat…who is York?? It’s actually a reference to York, PA, where the candy was created by a local confectioner in 1940. That company was acquired by Peter Paul, who took peppermint patties national in 1972. And of course if you’ve been paying attention you’ll recall that Cadbury bought out Peter Paul in 1978 and Hershey bought Peter Paul from Cadbury in 1988. You remember the old 80’s TV show Dallas, about the cutthroat aspects of the oil business?? Maybe a show could be made about the seedy underbelly of Big Chocolate. That’s a million dollar idea I’m giving away for free. You’re welcome. At any rate, peppermint is a unique ingredient. It’s not uncommon in hard candies, especially around Christmas, but when paired with dark chocolate the combination is…as the kids like to say…off the chain. There are many imitators out there, and they all taste just fine, but never forget that the real deal still says York on the shiny wrapper. In case you are wondering, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was indeed inspired by “a dish of candy on my desk” when naming a new character for his comic strip in 1966.
11 Milky Way
Okay, remember back in Part 1 when I explained that Forrest Mars created the Mars bar in England while estranged from his father?? That became an issue when Forrest returned to the family because here in America there was already a candy bar exactly like the international Mars bar. It’s called Milky Way, and it was introduced in 1923. Ingredients include a chocolate malty nougat topped with caramel and covered in milk chocolate. You might think that the candy bar is named after our galaxy…but you’d be wrong. The name was inspired by a popular malted milkshake. It was the milkshake…I assume…that got its moniker from the galaxy. You’ll recall that I told you that not all nougat is created equally, and this is a perfect example. Do I enjoy an occasional Milky Way?? Obviously. But I must say that the malty nougat isn’t my favorite. Now here’s an interesting nugget. In the early 1930’s each Milky Way actually consisted of two small bars. One had the chocolate nougat & caramel coated with milk chocolate, while the other had a lighter vanilla nougat & caramel coated with dark chocolate. In 1936 these became two separate candy bars…Milky Way and Forever Yours (an unfortunately weird & clunky name). Forever Yours was discontinued in 1979, but a decade later it rose from the ashes rebranded as Milky Way Dark aka Milky Way Midnight (a much cooler name). I actually prefer the Midnight. As much of a chocoholic as I am I seem to have a fetish for vanilla nougat. Oh, by the way…do you want to be confused a little bit more?? The Milky Way we all know & love is also a strictly American thing. There is an international Milky Way, but it is exactly like yet another candy bar that we haven’t gotten to quite yet. How in the world do those wacky Mars folks keep everything straight??
10 Reese’s Cups
Let us once again begin by answering a question everybody has even if they don’t realize it…who is Reese?? Well, he was Harry “HB” Reese, a dairy farmer in Hershey, PA whose farm was owned by Hershey as well. So basically he worked for Hershey, albeit in a rather idiosyncratic position. But ol’ HB was an entrepreneur, so eventually he built his own candy company and in 1928 created the chocolate & peanut butter concoction that still bears his name today. After his death his sons went into partnership with Hershey and their company continues to be a subsidiary of the larger corporation. I know there are a dozen or more variations of Reese’s Cups nowadays…caramel, dark chocolate, white chocolate, crunchy, etc….but I still prefer the original. So simple, yet so fantastic.
9 Bar None
This entry is unique on the list because the candy bar is now defunct. From 1986, when I was amidst the glory of my junior high years, to 1992, when I was in the midst of a four year frat boy drunken stupor, Hershey produced the tastiest yet most underrated candy bar of all time. About the same ample size as a Whatchamacallit, Bar None featured a chocolate wafer covered with peanuts & chocolate ganache, all covered with milk chocolate. It was…as the kids might say…the bomb diggity. And then, in 1992 they did the inexplicable…changed the formula. The new Bar None came in a bright yellow wrapper (modified from the original & appropriate chocolatey brown) and had two smaller bars made from kinda sorta the same ingredients, with the notable addition of caramel. I’m not sure who decided to make the change or why, but it was a monumental blunder on par with New Coke or Caddyshack II. Why mess with success?? Perhaps I am being naïve. One could reasonably assume that the original candy wasn’t selling well and thus the new recipe, but I just cannot fathom Bar None having poor sales figures. It was freaking chocolate nirvana!! At any rate, the revised edition was delicious enough, but just not the same, and so a few years later Bar None entered the candy graveyard. There is a company called Iconic Candy that once talked of a revival, but while they have resuscitated a couple of hard candies that I had never heard of in the first place the second coming of Bar None has yet to occur. Neither the website nor the Facebook page for Iconic has been updated for a few years, so I’m not even sure they’re still in business. I still hold out hope that Bar None will reignite its mission to “tame the chocolate beasty” someday, but that hope doesn’t satisfy a late night chocolate craving.
8 5th Avenue
In Part 1 we discussed Butterfinger and mentioned that there are four candy bars with a similar recipe… a crunchy peanut butter center covered in chocolate. Two of those have made this countdown, and 5th Avenue is the best of the bunch. It was created in 1936 by the same guy who invented Luden’s cough drops, and then acquired by Hershey in 1986. In my opinion the crunchy center is a bit smoother & tastes better than the competition, and the chocolate is more palatable. For reasons that I can’t seem to track down Hershey hasn’t done any advertising for 5th Avenue since 1993, which is really weird. However, despite this mysterious lapse in marketing the candy bars are readily available at almost any major retailer that I’ve ever been to, and occasionally you might see them in a vending machine as well.
7 Mallo Cups
Reese’s may get all the attention, but in my world the best cups aren’t filled with peanut butter…they have soft, gooey marshmallow cream. Mallo Cups were created in the 1940’s by Bob & Bill Boyer, two brothers in Altoona, PA, about a hundred miles east of Pittsburgh. Their operation was eventually acquired by a bigger company, and then that company sold out to a New York businessman in 1984. However, Mallo Cups are still produced in Altoona. I’m not sure how or why one of the biggies…Hershey, Nestle, or Mars…hasn’t gotten ahold of Mallo Cups, but I’m sure there are reasons. Availability is a real issue. One doesn’t easily stumble across Mallo Cups at many friendly neighborhood purveyors of chocolate. A few years ago I was jonesing for them so bad that I did a little research online and ended up ordering a case directly from Boyer!! Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?? If you’ve never had a Mallo Cup you have no clue what you’re missing!!
A couple of previous entrants in the countdown likely would have been a few spots higher if not for issues with availability. The same goes for Chunky. A New York City candymaker created Chunky in the 1930’s. That gentleman happened to have a buddy named William Wrigley Jr., the creator of a certain well-known gum. Wrigley distributed his friend’s Chunky bar for him until Nestle bought the brand in 1984. Chunky is probably the most unique candy bar on this list. It’s about the size of the palm of your hand and is made in a trapezoid shape. Inside that smallish but still bulky hunk of chocolate hides raisins & peanuts. Raisins…in a candy bar. Genius!! As mentioned, Chunky is a rare, difficult to find gem. I used to buy it at a local video store back in the 90’s when renting movies was still a thing. I never see it in any grocery store or movie theater, which is a shame. I assume I could purchase Chunky online like I did Mallo Cups, but I’ve not taken that step…yet.
5 Nestle Crunch
Hershey has Krackel, Nestle has its Crunch bar. Both are essentially the same thing…Rice Krispies in chocolate…and in fact both were created in 1938. And while I am a big fan of Hershey chocolate I must opine that, atleast in this recipe, Nestle chocolate is better. Crunch is also more heavily advertised and accessible to the masses. It’s rather thin & flat, so one might need to consume a couple of bars to be completely satisfied.
Mars first produced Twix in England in the late 60’s and didn’t introduce it in America until 1979. The name is a portmanteaux of “twin biscuits” because those wacky Brits refer to the cookie that is the base of the Twix as a biscuit, and as you are undoubtedly aware each shiny gold wrapper contains two bars. Those “biscuits” are topped with caramel and the whole deal is covered in milk chocolate. In 1983 an alternative was created wherein the “biscuits” are topped with peanut butter instead of caramel. Now, if you put a peanut butter Twix in front of me it’ll be eaten, and I’ll enjoy the heck out of it. Having said that though, I much prefer the original caramel version. My only complaint is that sometimes one will bit into a Twix that isn’t quite as fresh as one would hope, and in those instances the caramel can be a bit…chewy…which isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s a small nit to pick though, and not enough to deter my affection for the product.
3 3 Musketeers
Prepare to be confused again. Let’s review. We already know that the American Mars bar (aka Snickers Almond) is different than the international Mars bar because the international Mars bar is the same as an American Milky Way. But wait…there’s more!! The American Milky Way differs from the international Milky Way because the international Milky Way is basically the same as…the 3 Musketeers. You got all that?? The 3 Musketeers that we Americans know & love was created by Mars in 1932, with the name obviously being inspired by the classic 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas. The recipe is almost too simple…chocolatey whipped nougat covered in milk chocolate. Actually, for the first few years of its existence, there were three smaller bars in the package (hence the name), with chocolate, strawberry, & vanilla nougat. The popularity of the chocolate flavored nougat eventually forced a change in presentation, with the three bar concept as well as the strawberry & vanilla nougats being scrapped. When I think of nougat 3 Musketeers immediately comes to mind. It is so fluffy, light, & yummy!! As with most other candy bars there have been variations produced in numerous other flavor combinations, but like everything else it is almost impossible to improve upon the original concept. 3 Musketeers proudly pronounces on its shiny silver wrapper that it contains 45% less fat than other candy bars, and I have no reason to doubt the validity of the claim. At the very least it allows one to occasionally toss aside the ol’ diet and fool yourself into thinking a healthy choice is being made.
2 Kit Kat
Give me a break…break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!! Kit Kat was created in England in the mid-1930s, with the name being inspired by a political club (seriously). The small confectioner that produced it was eventually bought out by Nestle in 1988, but there’s a plot twist. In 1970 Hershey had signed a licensing agreement with the small English candymaker to distribute Kit Kat in the United States, and when Nestle bought out that small company they had no choice but to honor the agreement. So Kit Kat is owned & produced by Nestle around the world, except for America, where it is made by Hershey. Remember that TV drama I pitched about Big Chocolate?? There’s an entire season right there!! Oh, by the way…Hershey’s agreement to produce Kit Kat in the U.S. is only legally binding as long as the company isn’t sold, so the popularity of the candy bar actually prohibited the company’s sale about 15 years ago. As far as the candy itself, there are four connected wafers covered in milk chocolate…simple yet unique. I am sure people exist who might only eat one of the wafers and save the rest for later, or even share the four wafers amongst friends. I am not one of those people. There are probably psychologists or food scientists that would be able to explain the science of crunch and why we humans are powerless to resist anything crunchy, but all I know is that Snickers can lay claim to the mantra of satisfaction all it wants…what really satisfies me is a Kit Kat bar…or two…or three.
1 Hershey Bars
There’s a well-worn but true acronym…Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). I have found that it is a philosophy that works in most aspects of life…even candy bars. Hershey Bars were the first candy produced by the eponymous corporation in 1900. A version with almonds was created eight years later. I like both just the same, with preference changing as moods swing. Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t…which would be a great slogan if it wasn’t already being used for other Hershey products. Admittedly I am not a connoisseur of fine chocolate. I am certain that there are such aficionados, especially in Europe, that would likely scoff at the alleged quality of Hershey’s chocolate, and that’s okay. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. But just as one can’t drink champagne on a cheap beer budget the average consumer in America has neither the money, the expertise, nor the exposure to “fine” chocolate for us to thumb our noses at what is readily available in the places we most often spend our money. All I know is that when I really want a piece of chocolate after a stressful day there’s nothing better than a good ol’ Hershey bar.