The Worst Halloween Candies Ranked

Halloween is a holiday that's all about the candy, but unlike other candy holidays such as Easter, Valentine's Day, or Christmas, it comes with an unusual twist — the bulk of the candy is obtained via exchange with absolute strangers and brokered by juvenile intermediaries who tend to demand a pretty steep commission. What's more, the entire transaction typically takes place in the dark, with the element of disguise being employed on one or both sides. All of this subterfuge may go a long way towards explaining why so many houses seem to hand out such wretched candy Halloween after Halloween.

Our list of all-time worst Halloween candies omits a number of dismal confections due to their relative rarity. Yes, circus peanuts are gross, but when's the last time you saw these in a Halloween haul? The same with those strawberry granny candies. Jelly beans are also nasty, but no-one wants to be that blatant about handing out Easter leftovers. Wax lips may well be the most hideous excuse for candy ever invented, but only the most dedicated of neighborhood trolls would go to the expense of ordering them online since they're not something you can buy in bulk bags at Costco. Tops (or bottoms) on our list are the following candies that are likely to be lurking in your candy bowl long after Halloween's gone because not even the most candy-hungry kids (or parents) will want to eat them.

9. Whoppers

Malted milk was a popular soda fountain treat back in the days when there were such things as soda fountains. Poodle skirts and saddle shoes were in fashion at the time, and Elvis was young, skinny, and not being sighted at random Walmarts. Times have changed, and so have tastes, and to most of us today, malted milk just tastes weird and unpleasant. No, drying it out to make a hard, crunchy powder and then coating it in a not-very-chocolatey coating really doesn't improve matters much. As ALT 101.7 points out, spoiled milk is something that should be tossed, not turned into a candy. (They're no fans of Whoppers, also comparing the shape and texture to that of mothballs.)

Amazingly, Whoppers have been around in some form or other since 1939 (via Hersheyland). They may well have been popular during their first few decades, but that was then, this is now. Why is this old-timey candy still even still a thing? Sure, you see it sold at the movies, but movie theaters rightly see their patrons as a captive audience willing to pay ridiculous prices for whatever lame treats they try to flog. No matter what tricks money-hungry movie theaters are trying to pull, that's no excuse for letting down trick-or-treaters by handing out tiny boxes of their great-grandparents' favorite candy.

8. Tootsie Rolls

Tootsie Rolls are (maybe) 125 years old this year, although Time magazine says they may actually be a decade or so younger than that. Still, these chewy brown logs have been around for over a century, and in all that time, no-one's ever been able to figure out why. Who is eating them? And does anyone actually choose them over any other candy?

Maybe there weren't too many other candies on the market around the turn of the 20th century, or perhaps people regularly chewed on candle stumps at the time, so transitioning to slightly chocolatey-tasting wax was seen as a step up. In this day and age, though, we actually expect chocolate candies to taste more or less like chocolate, and Tootsie Rolls never fail to disappoint. Spoon University calls them "fake chocolate," ranking them among the all-time worst candies. The fruit-flavored Tootsie Rolls don't fare too much better. Sure, they're no worse than any other basic boring fruit chew, but as Woman's Day (and other inquiring minds) would like to know, whatever gave them the idea that vanilla was a type of fruit?

7. Nerds

Nerds candy is just kind of meh. Vaguely fruit-flavored, but Woman's Day, ranking them among the all-time worst Halloween candies, describes them as tasting more like the gravel they so closely resemble. They're rather annoying to eat, too. Those tiny little pieces don't make for much of a mouthful unless they're all stuck together into ropes, and people are less likely to hand out Nerds Ropes for Halloween. (Too expensive, even if they don't have any illicit add-ins.) How do you even eat Nerds? They're too chunky to just swallow down like Pixy Stix, but too tiny to pick up each piece in your fingers. You wind up having to pour them into your hand and suck them up, leaving you with sticky, damp palms. Yuck.

Also, points off for the insensitive name. While the term "nerd" has been somewhat rehabilitated in recent years, Big Think says it's still got less of a cool factor than "geek." Not to mention, when Nerds candies were first introduced back in 1983, the term was definitely a pejorative one. Calling a candy after a term used to insult people, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, is never cool. We definitely shouldn't be encouraging it by buying this product and handing it out to kids, no matter how un-impressionable (and unimpressed) they may be.

6. Swedish Fish

Sweden has brought us many wonderful things like IKEA meatballs and IKEA cake and IKEA furniture ... Well, ok, maybe IKEA's furniture is kind of a pain to put together. But still, we do have Sweden to thank for ABBA and the Nobel Prize and Volvos and Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, as well. On the other hand, though, this Nordic nation also insists on sending us Swedish Fish.

What is the deal with this blandest of candies? They're like Sour Patch Kids, only without the sour. Also without that slightly crunchy sugar coating that gives gummy candies a little texture. They are perhaps the least-exciting of fish-shaped foods, ranking well-below fish-shaped waffles, Goldfish crackers, and even fish itself. Even if you don't find the flavor (or lack thereof) off-putting, how about this unappetizing fact: Eat This, Not That! says that Swedish Fish are made with carnauba wax, an ingredient also found in car polish. Perhaps the only fun thing about Swedish fish is their resemblance to those fortune-telling fish we used to get in goody bags or at school carnivals. In fact, here's an idea: rather than giving out the practically inedible Swedish Fish for Halloween, why not give out Miracle Fish instead? You can buy these in bulk for cheap, and the best part is that they're safe for kids with food allergies.

5. Lemonheads

Every year around Halloween, candy companies publish data showing which different type of candy is supposed to be each state's favorite. As these numbers are based on sales figures, and in many cases, only the sales from a specific website, we'd like to think they don't reflect the actual preferences of people in any given state. Otherwise, we have some serious questions for people in Louisiana, the one state where — believe it or not — Lemonheads are the people's choice (via CandyStore).

The one thing Lemonheads have going for them is that they're cheap, and you also get a few hard candies per box. They're not really sour enough for any true sour candy aficionado, though, and their flavor doesn't resemble any actual lemon grown on this planet. Mashable decries their chemical taste, as well as their jaw-breaking hardness, while Woman's Day just finds them boring. There may be those who consider Lemonheads to be charmingly retro, but most of these people are probably more than a few decades past the maximum acceptable trick-or-treat age. If you want a candy that will please your non-geriatric Halloween visitors, it's probably best to give Lemonheads a miss.

4. Twizzlers

Twizzlers are supposed to be licorice, or at least red licorice, whatever that's supposed to be. The mere fact of being licorice-adjacent is bad enough to land this candy on Mashable's list of worst Halloween treats. Technically, though, Twizzlers aren't true licorice, which kind of begs the question as to what they are, then. Fruit chews? They'd need to be both fruitier and chewier to come anywhere near the gold standard set by Hi-Chew and Starburst. In fact, we have our doubts as to whether they're really candy at all, or could even be considered a type of food.

The grossest thing about chewing on Twizzlers is that they have a very similar texture to an eraser. In fact, so rubbery are these candies that they could very likely be used in a pinch should you need to wipe out some stray pencil marks or perhaps even patch up a flat tire. Twizzlers may well have a (non-food) role to play in any basic survival kit, but they do not belong in trick-or-treat bags, period.

3. Good & Plenty

Black licorice is just nasty. Dressing it up in a crunchy candy coating doesn't help much, not even if that candy is pretty in pink (and white). On the inside, Good & Plenty is just a yucky, bitter mess that's not at all good, and more than one candy is plenty. In fact, crowd-sourced data from FiveThirtyEight ranked Good & Plenty last out of 86 different Halloween candies, a testament to its enduring unpopularity.

Oh, and to make matters even worse, it turns out the stuff might even kill you! Before you panic and purge all the Good & Plenty from your kids' treat bags, though, calm down. The FDA warns that it's only likely to lead to coronary and kidney problems in adults over 40, and that only if they eat a few ounces of the stuff every day for a few weeks. You should be pretty safe if you leave the Good & Plenty to the kids. You know why? Because not only are younger bodies less susceptible to its effects, but younger tastebuds most likely want nothing to do with this disgusting candy.

2. Neccos/Smarties

The penultimate entry on our list is a two-fer — not so much a tie as the fact that these two items share similar attributes (or lack thereof). Necco wafers, the candies even your great-great-grandpa found old-fashioned, have been disappointing people since before the Civil War, per Spangler. Smarties are 100 years younger, but they recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. On this occasion, CNBC called them "an American candy classic" and made the claim that they've been the favorite of generations of trick-or-treaters. Ha, this just goes to show how you can't believe everything you read in the media. Favorite of who? People who buy huge bags of discount candy assortments? While Neccos are older (and flatter), they have a very similar flavor profile to that of Smarties: chalky nothingness. Both candies are basically just non-medicinal Tums.

For the Win lists Neccos and Smarties on its top 10 Halloween worst treats list, right up there with raisins and fruit, only without the redeeming health benefits. If you want to keep a candy bowl on your office desk but don't want to go through the bother and expense of refilling it, both candies would make an excellent choice. There's a pretty good chance you can keep the same candies in that bowl year after year. As a bonus, if anyone ever does eat one of those well-aged sweets, they probably won't taste any different from the day they came out of the factory (no matter what century that may have been).

1. Candy Corn

Candy corn isn't the worst tasting candy on this list, but it is the most Halloweeny-y, and is therefore ubiquitous at this time of year. And yet, it's never around at any other time of year. Doesn't that tell you something? There's a reason no-one wants Easter candy corn or Christmas candy corn. If candy corn Valentines were a thing, though, it would probably take some of the sting out of being single on the holiday, so at least there's that. So why does everyone hate candy corn so much? We can explain it in just three words: It's too sweet. Way, way, too sweet. Sweeter than Peeps, even, and a lot less cute.

While this isn't quite a dual entry like the one for Neccos and Smarties, we'd like to extend just a bit of our seasonal vitriol to those candy pumpkins that are basically big, fat candy corn. Mashable conflated the two on its list of Halloween candies that need to be retired, stat, considering them to be more or less the same thing, while SparkNotes considers the pumpkins to be even more abhorrent than candy corn itself. They're sufficiently rare in trick-or-treat hauls that they don't rate a listing of their own, but we concur with those who insist that candy corn in any way, shape, or form needs to be banished forever to the candy hall of shame.