The Ultimate Halloween Haul

Harvesting the bounty of the drugstore candy aisle

We love a good artisanal miso-butterscotch single-origin cocoa truffle as much as the next group of food editors, but there's something to be said—especially this time of year—for the sweet pleasures to be found in the drugstore candy aisle. Here, SAVEUR editors on the Halloween goodies we're most excited to find in our trick-or-treating bags—childhood favorites which, for the most part, remain just as tempting to us today.

When I was a kid, after we'd hit up every house trick-or-treating in Beech Grove, Kentucky (pop.150), the biggest payoff was spotting among the dumped-out haul the famous red and white wrapping of a Mounds bar. That dark chocolate and coconut combination? Man, Mounds' famous "Indescribably delicious" slogan was on the mark! —Greg Robertson, copy chief

There may be fancier caramels out there, but there's something about the basic, uniform sweetness of a cube-shaped, plastic-wrapped Kraft caramel that beats virtually all the others. —James Oseland, editor-in-chief

The Nestlé Crunch bar, invented in 1938 at the US Nestlé plant in Fulton, New York, combines the crisp crackle of puffed rice with the creamy, chew of cheap milk chocolate in a way that I find just primordially satisfying. The mini bars—which I judiciously cull from my daughter's Halloween haul—are just the right size for a workday afternoon pick-me-up. —Karen Shimizu, senior editor

O Three Musketeers, how I love to freeze you and then nibble all six sides of your milk chocolate away like a little mouse before savoring your almost-defrosted nougat center. Being dressed in a Punky Brewster costume only adds to the experience! —Kellie Evans, associate food editor

One Halloween, age four, I carefully dressed up as a mouse, then burst into tears, too scared to venture out into a world teeming with monsters and vampires. My older sister trick-or-treated without me, returning with mounds of candy corn pumpkins, which I enjoyed safe-and-sound at home. We repeated the ritual for four more Halloweens. I've loved the pumpkins, and their intense sweetness, ever since. —Sophie Brickman, senior editor

As a native of the City of Brotherly Love, I am Philly proud. One of the my main brags is Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, invented by David Goldenberg, a Russian Jewish immigrant to Philadelphia, in 1917. Unlike other packaged chocolatey candies, which I tend to find cloying, these are terrifically balanced, with a combo of nutty, rich, and bittersweet flavors, and a chew that lives up to their handle. —Betsy Andrews, executive editor

Double Bubble chewing gum brings me right back to Halloween circa the '70s, when shaving cream and eggs flew through the air with abandon, and you were more likely to get tricked than treated. It's tough gum: You've really got to work the jaws to get it going—but once you do, that sweet rush of flavor hits you like an egg thrown from a speeding Chevy Camaro. —Greg Ferro, managing editor

Whenever my parents go on a trip, they don't bring me back silly souvenirs; I get a king-sized Snickers. Milk chocolate, gooey caramel, nougat, and peanuts; the combination hits all the right notes. —Farideh Sadeghin, associate test kitchen director

I was obsessed with Butterfinger bars for years as a kid before I realized that the crunchy, nutty flavor was, in fact, peanut butter. (I was kind of a space cadet at that age.) But my favorite Halloween candy is Krackel, for the sheer difficulty of finding it. As far as I can tell, Hershey's doesn't make their puffed-rice chocolate bars in full-sized versions, and doesn't sell the minis on their own: You can only get them in multi-packs with Special Dark and Mr. Goodbar. —Helen Rosner, executive digital editor

While a standard peanut butter cup is a pretty good find, a Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin is the Halloween-basket holy grail: Each bite is a perfect balance of soft, sweet-salty filling (simultaneously creamy and a little grainy) and chocolate shell, with no sad, chocolate-only edges to temper your enjoyment. It's all about the ratio. —Laura Sant, assistant digital editor

My criterion for a perfect candy bar was pretty straightforward as a kid: it had to be made of chocolate, and it had to contain some kind of nut. Hershey bars with almonds were fine, but there were only like four or five nuts in them. Ridiculous. Mr. Goodbar, on the other hand, with its crushed-up peanuts, offered a little crunch in every bite. That bright yellow packaging made them easy to pick out of the jumbled mess of my Halloween bag bounty, too. —Keith Pandolfi, senior editor

My college roommate used to leave her candy wrappers and dirty laundry all over the tiny room we shared in Boston. When I finally confronted her about the mess, she handed me my first Skor: a snappy little bar of vaguely artificial-tasting toffee under a very thin layer of milk chocolate. I forgot why I was so angry and it's become the only candy I bother with around Halloween. (Miniature Daim bars, composed very similarly and available at Ikea, will also do the trick nicely!) —Tejal Rao, senior editor

As an uncomplicated kid, I couldn't imagine anything better than my two favorite candy staples—chocolate and caramel—perfectly amalgamated into a single chewy log without all the fuss of nuts, nougat, or other textural distractions. I go for a Tootsie Roll all the way. —Judy Haubert, associate food editor

I'm not a generally a fan of sweets, with one major exception: I'm crazy for anything peanut butter. The cups have too much chocolate for me, but Reese's Pieces are perfect little doses of the good stuff, surrounded only by a simple, crisp, candy coating. —Felicia Campbell, associate editor

My sister is almost three years older than me—close enough in age for us to trick-or-treat together, but just older enough for her to know exactly how to manipulate me. Our post-Halloween ritual was to divide our haul into piles—love, like, and reject—and then we'd swap pieces. Somehow she always got me to give up more of my favorites than I'd intended, and I ended up with all her unwanted candies. Hershey's Cookies 'n Cream (white chocolate with cookie pieces) were the only items in her reject pile that I actually liked—so I'd usually end up with a good 15-20 of those little rectangles. —Cory Baldwin, associate digital editor

Trick-or-treating in Colombia in the 1980s wasn't the most fun: Kids weren't really allowed to wander the streets alone because of safety problems, and the most exciting treat you would get was one of those pineapple-flavored wax candies or—if you were lucky—a marshmallow. But as the country began to open its economy a decade later, the candy landscape changed and I quickly became a Sweet-Tarts Skulls & Bones convert. I still love to build tiny skeletons with them and then eat all the pieces at once, their chalky texture filling my mouth and their tartness tingling my tastebuds. —Dominique Lemoine, assistant editor

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