The 2019 Halloween Candy Hierarchy


It began, as all things do, with a geology joke. We ranked candy based on their location in various geological strata, both real and imagined. The strata, not the ranking. In 2006, we compiled years of lived experience into a hierarchy of candy preference for Halloween. Not all candy. Not all times. But for trick or treating purposes. 

Let’s talk candy rankings, then, which have become a kind of cottage industry in the last decade’s social-media age of the internet. In fact, candy rankings and arguments over their perceived accuracy might be the perfect distillation of what a certain kind of internet is good for. It lets people argue over opinion; its conclusions thus have to be constantly modified and adjusted; also there are no conclusions, of course, because it is a fickle game of idle speculation; it’s low stakes fun; and reasonable people can disagree with unreasonable arguments. These are great things for hashing out the enjoyment of various shapes of sugar. Good on you, social media. They are not necessarily great things that go beyond idle speculation, for actual democratic society, for governance or policy or the protection of human dignity. 

Candy, though. And Halloween. There will be rankings (immediately below), then deliberations on history (further below) and a beautiful chart (furthest below). There is a hierarchy. We are making our priority claim.


The Candy Hierarchy (2019)

Any full-sized candy barReese’s Peanut Butter CupsKit KatTwixSnickersCash, or other forms of legal tenderPeanut M&M’sRegular M&MsNestle CrunchTolberone something or otherMilky WayLindt TruffleRolosThree MusketeersHershey's Dark ChocolateYork Peppermint Patties100 Grand BarSkittlesStarburstHershey’s Milk ChocolateHeath BarJunior MintsCaramellosNerdsMilk DudsHershey's KissesJolly Ranchers (good flavor)Cadbury Creme EggsSwedish FishGummy Bears straight upSmarties (American)LemonHeadsGlow sticksMint JulepsVicodinPixy StixLicorice (not black)LaffyTaffyLollipopsMint KissesMinibags of chipsBottle CapsSmarties (Commonwealth)

Candy Corn

Now'n'LatersDotsKinder Happy HippoGoo Goo ClustersFuzzy PeachesHard CandyGood N' PlentyLicorice (yes black)Reggie Jackson BarChicletsTrail MixHugs (actual physical hugs)Bonkers (the candy)MaynardsSweetums (a friend to diabetes)Healthy FruitBlack JacksPencilsThose odd marshmallow circus peanut thingsJolly Rancher (bad flavor)Spotted DickGeneric Brand AcetaminophenBox'o'RaisinsWhole Wheat anythingAnonymous brown globs that come in black & orange wrappers (Mary Janes)Creepy Religious comics/Chick TractsKale smoothieWhite BreadDental paraphenaliaGum from baseball cardsCandy that is clearly just the stuff given out for free at restaurantsBroken glow stick


We revised the original hierarchy each year between 2006 and 2009 to include feedback from readers and onlookers back at our blog The World’s Fair. Read the rest

The 2017 Halloween Candy Hierarchy: Definitely Not Fake News

Click to view the below full-size; or download as a a high-quality digital poster (4MB) for detailed scrutiny; or proceed for the plain text, abstract and analysis...

Note that data for this 2017 survey, like all good science, is transparent, open, and available for further analysis. This includes access data from previous candy hierarchies (for, you know, longitudinal studies). Here’s the link, and we invite you to tag public remarks with #statscandy so we can find your awesome analyses.

The Candy Hierarchy (2017)

Any full-sized candy barReese’s Peanut Butter CupsKit KatCash, or other forms of legal tenderTwixSnickersTolberone something or otherLindt TrufflePeanut M&M’sNestle CrunchMilky WayDove BarsRegular M&MsButterfingerRolosReese's PiecesHershey's Dark ChocolateMarsThree MusketeersYork Peppermint PattiesHeath BarCaramellos100 Grand BarJunior MintsChardonnayHershey’s Milk ChocolateMr. GoodbarMilk DudsHershey's KissesStarburstWhatchamacallit BarsSkittlesMint JulepsCadbury Creme EggsSweet TartsNerdsJolly Ranchers (good flavor)Gummy Bears straight upSwedish FishSmarties (American)LemonHeadsSourpatch Kids (i.e. abominations of nature)Take 5Mint KissesGlow sticksSmarties (Commonwealth)Minibags of chipsLicorice (not black)Pixy StixMike and IkeVicodinGoo Goo ClustersCoffee CrispKinder Happy HippoBottle CapsLaffyTaffyLollipopsNow'n'LatersReggie Jackson BarDots

Candy Corn

Fuzzy PeachesHard CandyGood N' PlentyChick-o-Sticks (we don’t know what that is)Bonkers (the board game)Licorice (yes black)Bonkers (the candy)MaynardsNecco WafersHugs (actual physical hugs)Tic TacsChicletsTrail MixSweetums (a friend to diabetes)Healthy FruitBlack JacksSenior MintsPeepsJoyJoy (Mit Iodine!)PencilsAnonymous brown globs that come in black and orange wrappersVials of pure high fructose corn syrup, for main-lining into your veinSandwich-sized bags filled with BooBerry CrunchJolly Rancher (bad flavor)Spotted DickGeneric Brand AcetaminophenBox'o'RaisinsThose odd marshmallow circus peanut thingsCreepy Religious comics/Chick TractsWhole Wheat anythingCandy that is clearly just the stuff given out for free at restaurantsKale smoothieDental paraphenaliaReal Housewives of Orange County Season 9 Blue-RayWhite BreadGum from baseball cardsBroken glow stick



This thing won’t end, right? Read the rest

Vote for the best Halloween candies, for science

Remember last year? Remember the above figure (direct link), where all was laid out? This is how SCIENCE ranks your Halloween haul. Kit Kat and actual cash at the top, dental floss and anything whole wheat near the bottom.

Well, now it's time for the 2017 Candy Ranking Games. Go and fill out this 10 minute survey into the best and worst Halloween candies. Do it for science. Do it to fight #fakenews. Go forth, go go!


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Note that data will be collected for analysis until noon, PST, Oct 25th.  This year’s Candy Hierarchy will be published on October 27th.


You probably thought all we’d talk about this year is David S. Pumpkins and candy corn. Ask David S. Pumpkins to guest co-author, they said. He’s got a Wikipedia page and you don’t, they said. Read the rest

The Candy Hierarchy for 2016: Halloween's best and worst treats

The results of our survey are in. This year's list of the most loved and hated Halloween treats has a surprise in store!

Tell us about your Halloween candy preferences, and other things besides

With so many costumes adorning this election season, you might think the Halloween get-ups are overkill. Think again, because David Ng and B.R. Cohen are here to present the official universal survey about your candy favorites for the 2016 hierarchical delineation of candy virtue.

The Candy Hierarchy 2015: your essential guide to Halloween treats

(View this graphic as a huge PDF)


It’s always about the candy. The Candy Hierarchy is full up with this “joy induction” measurement, this thing that the co-principle investigators (PIs) Cohen and Ng go on about each year. From 2006 to 2013, the PIs conducted a longitudinal study, more or less guided by PI expertise and whim (or whimsical expertise) and possible corporation sponsorship. Research by others in the field sought to refute the findings, obviously unsuccessfully. Yet the PIs were so moved by the yearly outpouring of commentary that they opened up the study to additional data sources, namely people. People who the PIs surveyed. Or is it whom? Anyway, nobody cares - this is about sugar. The 2014 Candy Hierarchy was thus defined by data analysis of 43,767 votes obtained from 1286 individuals. Good for them. But not good enough for science. Because the 2015 Candy Hierarchy doubled down and reworked the whole thing with all kinds of more stuff. This hierarchy therefore presents the newly calculated 2015 rankings, based on a total of 518,605 data points obtained from 5459 individuals in a randomized fashion. It also provides the raw data from a secondary study that sought to understand the character of the survey takers, or rather how character affects joy induction. It’s all in there, just go check out the figures.


BC: Don’t you love how they call us Dr.?

DN: I don’t mind. Read the rest

Only you can determine what tops the official Hallowe'en Candy Hierarchy

This is the real reason we dress up like zombies and giant bottles of catsup. David Ng and B.R. Cohen present a survey to determine your favorites in anticipation of this year's all-important hierarchical delineation of candy goodness.

The Candy Hierarchy, 2014

David Ng and Ben Cohen performed acts of science (realistic ones) in order to determine, once and for all, a true and empirical understanding of which Halloween candies induce the most joy and despair. With more than 40,000 of your votes duly recorded, the results below are indisputably unassailable.

What are the best Halloween candies?

This is the real reason we dress up like zombies giant bottles of catsup. David Ng and Ben Cohen present a survey to determine your favorites in anticipation of this year's all-important hierarchical delineation of candy goodness.

The Candy Hierarchy, 2013

Read the rest

The Candy Hierarchy (2012)

This year's Candy Hierarchy provides gentle but firm instruction for your confectionary purchases this Hallowe'en, and serves doubly as a means to evaluate the success of one's own haul of treats. Updated and newly annotated by the authors, this is the indispensable guide to a successful All Hallow's Eve.