One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was in the supermarket check-out line in 2018. The cash register and receipt printer had both somehow simultaneously jammed. While the cashier momentarily abandoned her post to locate a manager, those in line turned to polite chit-chat. Once the typical topics were covered — today's weather, tomorrow's predicted weather — talk turned to the contents of people's carts and baskets.
"Hey, whose birthday is it?" asked a chatty man who kept shifting a jumbo bag of organic dog food from under one arm to the other, gesturing with his empty hand towards a sprinkle-covered birthday cake in a gray-haired woman's cart.
"Nobody's," she said with a shrug. "I just got old enough that I realized I could buy nice things that make me feel good."
I'm not sure exactly where this stems from — perhaps a decade of stupid crash dieting or seeing the bottom of my bank account one too many times — but I definitely used to (and sometimes still do) experience palpable guilt when I buy food that I want rather than food that I need. Hearing someone in real-life, as opposed to a faceless Instagram caption, reframe these small, occasional purchases as a low-stakes form of self-care was illuminating.
In the years since, that exchange has come to mind in a variety of situations, ranging from birthday dinners to wine store purchases to Halloween candy purchases. While Halloween is a candy holiday, I don't think most people think of it as a fancy candy holiday — that's reserved for Valentine's Day.
Consider changing that up this year. Don't worry, I'm not about to suggest that you drop extra cash on artisan candy for trick-or-treaters who will do just fine with fun-sized Snickers. Instead, I'm suggesting you use this Halloween as an opportunity to put that good self-care advice into practice by buying some adult-approved analogues of the Halloween candy that made you smile most as a kid.
And these? Don't feel pressured to share.
If you liked Reese's Peanut Butter Cups . . .
Try Justin's Dark Chocolate Crispy Peanut Butter Cups. Each bite of these peanut butter cups has a distinct crunch, thanks to the addition of puffed quinoa. While quinoa is often associated with savory dishes, toasted puffed quinoa has a brilliant texture that pops between your teeth, revealing a warm, nutty flavor that beautifully complements the smooth peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate.
If you liked Sour Patch Kids . . .
Growing up, one of the things I always appreciated about Sour Patch Kids was the brand's succinct slogan: "Sour. Sweet. Gone." For me, the Yuzu and Kinkan Candy from Muji, a Japanese candy company, achieves the same sensation, thanks to the layering of citrus in these small hard candies. Yuzu has the sharpness of lime and grapefruit, while kinkan are small, orange citrus fruits with a sweet skin and sour flesh.
If you liked Twix . . .
Twix, in my mind, is getting close to Halloween candy perfection, thanks to the fact that it's one of the few supermarket candies that really goes all in on textural contrast. In the middle of a Twix bar is a buttery, crisp strip of shortbread, which is decked in oozy caramel and mild milk chocolate. The decadent Donuts & Coffee Milk Chocolate Bar from Compartes in Los Angeles takes that flavor combination and really refines it.
"Our best-selling milk chocolate, Donuts & Coffee chocolate bar features donuts from the best Los Angeles donut shops," the company writes on its website. "We break the donuts up and mix them into the most creamy delicious milk chocolate you will ever taste. Add in coffee grounds from some of LA's best coffee shops and you've got yourself a winner!"
If you liked Almond Joy . . .
Like clockwork, October hits and a rash of posts — packed with, ahem, dubious information — begin flooding social media about how parents need to vigilantly check their children's Halloween candy because it could be filled with drugs, often pot in popular lore. I wrote about this phenomenon last year and confidently came to the conclusion that the vast majority of people who purchase cannabis aren't going to waste it on dosing Halloween candy.
However, that's not to say that you can't explore the world of gourmet cannabis edibles this Halloween. If you were a fan of Almond Joy — a bar manufactured by Hershey's, consisting of sweetened, shredded coconut topped with whole almonds and covered in milk chocolate — give Mindy's Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee a try.
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From James Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal, these 100-milligram edibles (there are 10 pieces, each with approximately 10 milligrams of THC) are made with two types of dark chocolate blended with a touch of milk chocolate. They're topped with smoked almonds, crunchy toffee and smooth caramel, providing a decadent intersection of flavor and texture.
If you liked Twizzlers . . .
My sixth-grade teacher, with whom I'm still in contact and adore, was pretty laid-back when it came to classroom rules, though one in particular I remember was candy that was "more activity than candy" was banned. This included things like gum or taffy or, in retrospect, anything that made a distracting chewing sound. Twizzlers fell under that category.
And while that meant that I consumed many a Twizzler during a five-minute class change, this Wiley Wallaby watermelon-flavored licorice is worth lingering over a little longer. It's a soft chew packed with bright fresh fruit flavors. (Bonus: Wiley Wallaby products are available at Targets nationwide, so this is an easy treat for indulging.)
If you liked Swedish Fish . . .
Alright, I'm not sure for whom Swedish Fish are the peak Halloween candy (you're out there, according to Reddit). Kolsvart Sour Raspberry Candy Fish is for these folks — and for people, like me, who previously assumed they didn't care for candy fish.
The classic Swedish fish get a flavorful update; with a satisfying chew and bright color, the raspberry flavor is reminiscent of the iconic American candy but tastes distinctly of pure raspberry, with a wonderful sweetness and a subtle tart note on the finish.
If you liked Kit Kat Bars . . .
Listen, you deserve to keep a Mayana Chocolate Kitchen Sink Bar around at all times, regardless of the holiday. This bar combines peanut butter and crispy rice with milk chocolate, fleur de sel caramel and Mayana's signature 66% dark chocolate. Unlike a KitKat, which relies on layers of thin wafer for its distinct crunch, the Mayana bar is packed with little pockets of crisp pretzel.
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