Halloween Candy: A Working Hierarchy

At this time of a year, a lot of people agonize over the question of what sort of candy to hand out to area children, in an effort to placate the little monsters. The good news is that just about anything does the trick. But if you're interested in going beyond pacification and actually making a great impression, the list below—compiled from notes assembled via years of painstaking field research in the early and mid-1980s—should be of great use.

From best to worst ...

Full-Size Candy Bar of Any Type: This is the big prize, the King Kahuna. Giving out full-size candy bars marks you as that rarest of adults: The Adult Who Really Gets What Halloween Is About; i.e., consuming the maximum amount of candy by volume.

Trade at: 10-to-1 or better

Miniature Snickers: The bedrock of any good candy pail or bag, Snickers have substance and a name trusted by generations of trick-or-treaters. With peanuts, caramel, chocolate, just a tiny little bit of nougat (not enough to make the whole thing completely disgusting), this is the Halloween mini-bar to beat.

Trade at: 1.25-to-1

Other "Fun-Size" Chocolate Bars: Chocolate is the currency of Halloween, so if it's chocolate, it's legitimate. Hershey's, Milky Way, Butterfingers, Three Musketeers—these are all respectable Halloween treats and trade 1-to-1 on the open market, save for chocolate bars with coconut or other potentially objectionable ingredients, which can split people according to personal taste and thus lose a good chunk of value. However, they represent a sincere, if misguided, attempt on the part of adults to participate in the Halloween tradition.

Trade at: 1-to-1

Tiny Boxes of Dots, Mike and Ikes, and Other Fruity Candies: Appreciated as a break from the norm, these fruity candies sort of miss the point: the mass accumulation of pounds upon pounds of cheap, mass-marketed chocolate products.

Trade at: Roughly 1-to-3, or 1-to-4 in some quarters

Dum Dums, Candy Corn, Other Off-Brand Cheap Novelty Candy: If you give these out, kids will generally just feel sorry for you. They will not, however, be driven into a rage, or even dismiss these candies (and your generosity) to the point that they leave them lying on your front lawn.

Trade at: 1-to-8 or thereabouts

Apples: There is a lot of debate about whether an apple is just a misguided attempt to look out for the welfare of trick-or-treaters or an actual provocation, but with the wide availability of other candy options at any and all grocery stores, it's generally considered to be the latter. The majority of Halloween apples become high-velocity missiles, ending their time on Earth as a cloud of wet, mushy fragments.

Trade at: No market value

Those Stupid Pieces of Peanut Butter Taffy in the Black or Orange Wrappers: Do they even still make these? These taste terrible to the point of being essentially inedible, and their main use is that they can be hurled at friends/rivals/authority figures. Just terrible.

Trade at: Throw them at things

But even peanut butter taffy is not as bad as ...

The Toothbrush: There's always one house in a given neighborhood that thought it would be cute to give out toothbrushes. Those guys get TP'd. Hard.