Halloween is fast approaching, and just because the holiday might look very different than years past, it doesn’t mean we can’t still take a moment to appreciate a very vital element of the season.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, Halloween and candy go hand in hand.
No one better understands this important relationship than James Beard Award-winning columnist and video producer for the LA Times Food section Lucas Kwan Peterson.
In his latest article, Peterson does the impossible: Ranking every Halloween chocolate and sweet treat.
The system used to rank the candy is “completely scientific, airtight and indisputable” — at least according to Peterson.
The first standard is what he calls “Spirit of Halloween (SOH) — how much does the candy capture the je ne sais quoi of the season” and the second is the “Halloween Trade Value (HTV),” or the swapability of each candy with friends once the night is over.
Peterson joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes for a conversation about our love of all things candy, and to go over his findings.
You can find his “Official Halloween Candy Power Rankings” here.
How Peterson came up with the ranking system:
“Part of what I think is fun about ranking highly subjective comfort foods associated with people’s childhoods is that obviously there is no definitive empirical way to do it. I like to joke that this is extremely scientific — absolutely unassailable, totally indisputable — but obviously, everyone has their favorite candy from childhood. Everyone has very strong feelings about something they ate when they were 5 or 6 or when they were in the back of their parents’ car…
“I think it was important to talk about the spirit of Halloween. I think there are certain candies that are more Halloweenish, if you will, that just sort of capture the spirit of the fall and crunching leaves and changing seasons more than other candy. So I tried to rank it by how it feels as well as taste. I tried to rank it as well by trade value because as everyone knows, at the end of the night, you’d sit down, you dump your stash onto the glass table, and then you would start to trade. You would start to barter because certain things you got, you know certain things the other kids didn’t get, certain things you wanted.”
On his top-ranked candy:
“I think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are classic. That’s just that’s what you go for first. That’s what you reach for, you know, in the bag. The first thing you go for when you start your candy eating. It’s the wrapper. It’s the color scheme. It’s the crinkly black paper. It’s the kind of grainy saltiness of the peanut butter, which is, you know, objectively bad peanut butter, but it really works in the context of a peanut butter cup. You know, if you fill a peanut butter cup with normal regular peanut butter, it just wouldn’t be the same. And there is something about the peanut butter to milk chocolate ratio that is perfect.”