Halt! Do not step foot in Bartell's, Walgreens, Rite Aid, or any other Halloween candy epicenter without reading on. You're going to see a lot of new candy as you peruse those aisles—Caramel Apple Milky Ways, Cadbury Screme Eggs, and White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms—and as the sweet sugar particles drift through the air, up your nose, and into your brain, some of these exotic options might start to tempt you.
For example: 2012 is the year of the candy corn. The controversial waxy little tricolored triangles have been exhumed from the bottom of the candy bowl and thrust upon classic goodies like Oreos, M&Ms, and jelly beans. Also: Pumpkin spice has made its way into Hershey's Kisses. Caramel apples have infiltrated Milky Ways. But is any of it worth buying, let alone eating? The Stranger Candy Control Board braved orange-food-coloring overdose and type 2 diabetes to find out. We walked away with raw tongues, crying tummies, and reduced self-worth—it was, as Emily Nokes said, our snackrifice to you.
Here's the good, the mouth-damaging, and the stomach-churning in this year's Halloween candy aisles.
Important scientific note: I couldn't find the Candy Corn Oreos anywhere within the city limits of Seattle, but I will trust the opinion of former Stranger writer, current Jezebel writer, and genius quote-spewer Lindy West, who bravely tried them and referred to the orange-and-yellow-cream filling—which could be peeled from the cookie in one plasticky piece, by the way—as "clown jerky." Gross.
What they are: Oversized M&Ms (approx. 5/8 inch in diameter) filled with candy corn–flavored white chocolate, covered in either white, yellow, or orange candy coating. They're pretty! And they smell like vanilla frosting.
How they taste: Not at all like candy corn and almost nauseatingly sweet. Eating more than a small handful (I hadn't had lunch—I was hungry!) made my mouth scream, and I couldn't taste anything else for more than an hour after consumption. The Stranger Candy Control Board was divided—Emily Nokes and I found that the M&Ms were somewhat enjoyable in small quantities, while Goldy tried a few and immediately made a sour face. "Ugh! It's the worst of both worlds!" he said. Proceed only if you like white chocolate. Even then, still use caution.
Worth buying: Yes, when they're 50 percent off on November 1.
What they are: Peculiar orange–colored Hershey's Kisses flavored with "pumpkin spice" and featuring an inexplicable creamy white center. They contain no actual chocolate—sugar, vegetable oil, nonfat milk, and corn syrup are the first four ingredients listed on the package. They smell wonderful!
How they taste: Like biting into a pumpkin pie–scented candle on the clearance rack at Bed Bath & Beyond. They're horrible. The texture is waxy; there's too much "spice" (mainly fake clove) and not enough pumpkin; and the soft center causes the Kiss to melt into a grainy, toothpaste-textured glob. Not a single soul on the Candy Control Board enjoyed them. Anthony Hecht took a small bite from one, gagged, and spit it out into the garbage can. Music intern Hallie Santo cried, "I can't tell what I'm eating!" before running off to find water.
Worth buying: Only if you want to stick a wick in one and use it as a candle.
What they are: Mini Milky Ways with a subtle artificial apple flavor.
How they taste: Like mini Milky Ways with a subtle artificial apple flavor. I liked them okay but would prefer to eat a standard Milky Way. Paul Constant, who doesn't like Milky Ways at all (HEATHEN!) says that they're "an improvement," while Dominic Holden ate one and declared, "The Mars corporation are assholes!"
Worth buying: Yeah, sure. Whatever.
What they are: A Cadbury Crème Egg with a green "yolk" instead of the traditional yellow.
How they taste: Like a candy company's desperate attempt to improve sales in the off-season.
Worth buying: Yes, if you like Cadbury Crème Eggs and don't want to wait until March to get one.
What they are: "Classic candy corn flavor in a bean!"
How they taste: Depending on who you ask, they either taste a lot like candy corn or not at all like candy corn. To me, the flavor was like sweet vanilla, but Candy Control Board member Erin Resso claimed to detect candy corn, so maybe my tongue was just still fried by the M&Ms. Regardless, Jelly Belly has the best chewy texture of any jelly bean anywhere, so there's that.
Worth buying: It was $3.99 for a 7.5-ounce bag at QFC, which is too much to pay for a just-okay jelly bean. Wait until they're on sale.
What they are: A fluorescent orange, pumpkin-shaped rice crispy treat supposedly made with Peeps and supposedly covered with candy. The package boasts: "New!" "0g Trans Fat" and "No cholesterol." The "candy" is really just some haphazardly scattered, pumpkin-shaped orange, black, and white sprinkles.
How they taste: Resident Peeps expert Emily Nokes (who heretofore loved ALL things Peeps) was not impressed. "This tastes nothing like Peeps," she said, sadly, after her first bite. The texture was also disappointing—despite marshmallow being the first listed ingredient, there was no gooey, soft factor. The so-called treat appeared to be barely held together with orange corn syrup.
Worth buying: No. Instead, make your own. Buy six packages of Peeps (or a bag of marshmallows, if you aren't a Peeps person). Melt a generous pat of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, rolling it around to coat the bottom and the sides of the pan. Toss the Peeps in there, and stir until melted. Pour in some crispy rice cereal until you get your desired marshmallow-to-cereal ratio, and then spread the mixture into a casserole dish (greased up with cooking spray or butter). Let cool before cutting into squares. Cheap, easy, and 1,000 times more delicious.
Conclusion: These limited fall flavors are just bad versions of good candy—a money-hungry candyman's attempt to take even more of your dollars by insinuating that a traditional Milky Way or a lovingly homemade Rice Krispies Treat is no longer good enough. Do not be fooled!