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Home » Culture and Criticism

N Candy AA: Round of 64, Flight 3

Submitted by on March 24, 2010 – 9:15 PM81 Comments

Today's write-ups by Keckler.Confused? Click here.

n-candy-aa1 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup vs. 16 Zero. I'm sorry, but there is something really WRONG about a white candy bar. It's unnatural and weird and looks like Bunnicula got to it before I did. I could go on a whole white-chocolate rant, but I'm just going to give you the condensed-milk version: white chocolate is not real chocolate, and far as I'm concerned, Zero Bar is nothing more than an anemic Milky Way with the barest shards of nuts thrown in. (So wrong!) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are simple, satisfying, perfect. The salty with the sweet satisfies all cravings.

WHITE IS WRONG. I'm just saying: Alpine White. Never forget.

(A question about that video: did Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson spoof the Alpine White ending when they made that creeptastic video about how normal and not-at-all-weird their marriage was? Because Alpine White was probably MJ's preferred foundation tint.)

8 Mr. Goodbar vs. 9 Junior Mints. I might be one of Mr. Goodbar's only fans. ["I am the other." -- Bunting] I'll admit, as candy bars go, it's fairly boring. Composed of only two things, peanuts and chocolate, it's not sexy with nougat or crazy with caramel. It's just good ol' peanuts and chocolate. It's a bar version of my cherished peanut M&Ms. Dull as it may be, I do love Mr. G. On the other hand, Junior Mints have the Seinfeld bump going for them, and they are my preferred movie candy. I especially love when I think the box is empty, but at least two more Junior Mints rattle down when I give it a shake. I'm calling this one for Junior Mints, and I don't think it will be as close as the ranking suggests.

5 See's/Whitman's Sampler vs. 12 Oh Henry!. I'll admit that I don't see any real difference in taste or texture between Oh Henry! and Snickers, but that doesn't make Oh Henry! a bad candy, per se, just unoriginal. Oh Henry!'s biggest stumbling block is that it doesn't have a Snickers-sized media machine behind it, so it's not really in the public eye. It has fans, but I'm not sure if there's enough of them to beat the wide and varied selection of candies you get in a sampler box. Sure, you hate certain candies in a sampler (anything besmirched with "fruit" goes right in the trash. If I want fruit, I'll eat fruit. I don't want it messing up my chocolate), but you know you adore others (two words: Rum. Balls).

Plus, there's that whole element of mystery and anticipation surrounding a sampler box. You ignore the map provided just so you can bite into each chocolate to find out which are good and which are gross. ["Not until I've identified and chucked the chocolate-covered cherry." -- Bunting] My grandmother was sneakier. Using her long fingernails, she'd stab holes in the bottom of each chocolate to check their innards. Then, she'd eat what she wanted and leave the other perforated candies oozing in their pleated paper cups for someone else to find. The samplers aren't great, but people love them, so I'm afraid Oh Henry! won't progress any further.

4 Kinder vs. 13 Hershey's Symphony. I can't think of any bar more boring than either Symphony bar. I think Symphony was Hershey's attempt to class themselves up all Dove-style, but I don't get it. Kinder eggs are crazy-fun. It's forgettable chocolate, but, dude, THERE ARE TOYS INSIDE! Even as an adult, I can't resist that kind of candy. Kinder's a shoe-in.

6 York Peppermint Patties vs. 11 Nutrageous. I went through a short-lived Nutrageous phase when I was working as a half-starved Houghton-Mifflin editorial assistant in Boston, but now I find them too much of a good thing. Way too rich, way too peanut-buttery. They're Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on steroids, the Barry Bonds of the candy world, all juiced up with unnecessary bumps and fillings. Also, I do love me some York Peppermint Patties, and the fact that they are a "fat free" just helps me argue my way into eating an entire bag, leaving none for the trick-or-treaters. Peppermint Patties are the cool and clear winner here.

3 Peanut M&Ms vs. 14 Nut Goodies. As a native Minnesotan, I'm probably supposed to adore Nut Goodies and link them to some idyllic frozen lake memory, but I don't. As soon as I discovered they had maple in them, I never let them get anywhere near me. Nut Goodies had a recent resurgence when new owners took over Pearson's Candy Company. Even though new owners grubbed up the old, beloved recipe and wrapped them in their original wrappers, I don't think Nut Goodies are mainstream enough to beat classic Peanut M&Ms.

7 Whatchamacallit vs. 10 Take 5. I looked high and low for a Take 5 to sample, but came up dry. I know the basic composition: chocolate, peanuts, caramel, pretzels, and peanut butter. I know that some might find the pretzel inclusion to be genius in the same way they find the pretzels in Chubby Hubby genius, but no. Whatchamacallit is my favorite candy bar. It has THE BEST name and filled with caramel, crisp bits, and peanut butter that isn't too dry nor too much of a good thing. (I'm looking at you, Nutrageous.) Take 5 has a stupid, boring name and a stupid, boring wrapper. Whatchamacallit will win this but probably not go much further. (Sniff.)

2 Snickers vs. 15 Sky Bar. I don't think there's even a doubt who will take this. Even if I didn't find the Sky Bar's chocolate alone to be so completely repulsive, to say nothing of the grotesque fillings, I'd still put my money on Snickers. In fact, I'm betting on Snickers to win the whole damn thing.

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  • Rinaldo says:

    I too have been figuring that Snickers wins the whole damn thing. And rightly (though I wouldn't mind seeing Almond Joy wrestle it to the floor and yes Glark, I know what you think).

  • Ashley says:

    Holy flashback on that Nestle ad, but I cannot even begin to express how much it's bothering me that that the song goes n-e-s-t-l-e-s when it's panning RIGHT OVER a bar that clearly reads n-e-s-t-l-e. Hello! We're not too entranced by the gauzy draperies and ice twirling to notice that you are spelling it wrong!

  • That's just crazy talk says:

    Okay, there is a WORLD of difference between See's (OM NOM NOM) and Whitman's (only good as a last resort). It's hugely unfair to lump them together–though I voted on the assumption that I get my choice (which is to say, my favorite chocolate in the world, well above all that fancy Belgian stuff).

    Of course, as noted above, Snickers will take it all anyway, so I suppose this GROSS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE is largely irrelevant.

  • Duana says:

    Is a Whatchamacallit kind of like a Wunderbar? #canadiancandy

  • Mike says:

    Whenever we have the bag of Hershey's miniatures I eat all the Mr Goodbars first. I think that is the best candy bar Hershey's makes.

    Take 5 is pretty good. The pretzel definitely makes that candy bar worth it. There is nothing quite like a chocolate covered pretzel.

  • Trip says:

    Wow, I actually went against the grain on 5 out of 8 here. For the record: Zero is one of the best, most underappreciated candy bars ever. Especially slightly refrigerated. That Milky Way crack is TOTALLY off-base, you whitechocolatophobe.

  • Keckler says:

    @Ashley The 80s rock refuses to acknowledge your typo. The 80s rock sees only men in white turtlenecks, men in white crew neck sweaters with no tee-shirts, and Casio keyboards.

    @Rinaldo, I totally agree. I love Almond Joy and Mounds for that matter. (Do you hear that, Bunting? I LOVE MOUNDS!) (Hew.)

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I love Mounds too. As you may have read in the men's room.


  • Keckler says:

    Dude, I'm sorry, but Zero looks like coyote poo.

  • Kris says:

    Nut Goodies! I have to send a case of them to my brother in California twice a year, so that he can get his fix (yes, I’m in Minnesota), They are a bit too sweet, but I love them anyway.

    And Snickers! To me, the bite-sized Snickers are the perfect candy bar. They get the proportion of all the elements exactly right.

  • Jill says:

    Did they change the peanut M&M recipe everywhere? The German one has been changed. They are way less chocolaty now, completely disappointing.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Ahhhhhhh, SNICKERS. Many's the night when Snickers has turned out to be dinner-at-work – which was not altogether a bad thing, as I luurve Snickers.

    I'm desperately hoping it doesn't come up against York Peppermint Patties, or I may implode; I like to believe that, basically, YPPs are actually good for you, so it's okay to eat them until your brain melts. Not that I have. Or would. Really.

  • Jen says:

    I have to vote for Oh Henry! purely on the strength of its role in the classic dirty chocolate bars joke. (several versions here:

  • robin says:

    Nut Goodies! In general I don't care much one way or the other about nut- or peanut butter-filled chocolates.I usually consider it a dilution of perfectly good chocolate. But when one of ny nephews moved to Minnesota, he started sending Pearson's Nut Goodies in my Christmas package. Now I really look forward to it as part of the present-opening munchies on Christmas morning.
    Also, Zero bars: white chocolate should be called something else, to stop offending all those who say it's "not chocolate". It's a perfectly good sugary cocoa-butter based confection inits own right, and needs a better publicity agent.

  • Jamie says:

    I was wondering when I'd see Take 5. I just discovered them last Halloween in the kids' pillowcases and I ate them ALL! They're so good.

  • Hellcat13 says:

    You guys, I just shivered with anticipation over the inevitable Snickers vs Peanut Butter Cup smackdown.

  • JennyB says:

    I'm confused (which in and of itself is not unusual) about the Zero write-up. Is a Zero bar different in Canada?? Because here it's a regular milk or dark chocolate bar filled with deliciously melty chocolate. I've never seen the white variety. Now, I'm voting for Reese peanut butter cups anyway, because chocolate + peanut butter = love, but I'm intrigued by the white Zero.

  • Heather C. says:

    Personally, I'm just down with the Bunnicula reference. And Whatchamacallit.

  • emilygrace says:

    I'm a little sad that Reeses got such a hard bracket. They're easily my favorite. But they'll face some of my other top five pretty early (York Peppermint Patties/Junior Mints). Also, I'm no Nutrageous defender, but the only thing you can really call a Reeses cup on steroids is one of those quarter pound enormous peanut butter cups. One of those things is a whole meal.

  • J+1 says:

    I'm still thinking Reese's is going to win the whole thing.

  • Tisha_ says:

    Are Nut Goodies the same thing as Maple Nuts? Because I voted for them, assuming they are. So I hope I haven't made an ASS out of you OR me.

    Also, I'm surprised that Zero has even FIVE percent up against Reese's.

  • Colin says:

    See, the problem with the whole N Candy AA? Is that we have a snack drawer at work currently stocked with the typical Halloween-season fun-size candy mix. My willpower in re: the snack drawer is bad enough already, but reading these write-ups drives the cravings into really unhealthy territory. Damn.

  • Bitts says:

    People, what is UP with mint lovers?!?!? If I want to eat mint, I'll brush my teeth, for chrissakes! Mint is NOT CANDY! Mint is a dentifrice!

    (Also, coconut FTW. Just sayin.)

  • StillAnotherKate says:

    Ah, my Whatchamacallit. You are perfection in a little candy wrapper. But I, too, must confess to occasionally choosing the York Peppermint Patty over it because it's FAT FREE. That means it's good for you right?

    And am I the only one who still closes their eyes and say "When I bite into a York Peppermint Parry I get the sensation of . . . ."

  • ferretrick says:

    Bunnicula reference = awesomeness. I gave those books to my nephew for Xmas, and everybody looked at me like, "vampire rabbit? the hell?"

    Snickers wins also because it has the added weapon of being tooth shatteringly awesome after being in the freezer a couple hours.

  • tulip says:

    Hey @Trip I'm with you! I pulled a Bunting in college and cleaned out the vending machines in my dorm with those. Though I love Keckler and always appreciate her opinions, I still love those Zero bars!
    Now I feel I have to find one and see if the love is still there. Or will it just taste like quasi late teen angst and bad white chocolate? …off to see if I can even find one!

  • Katharine says:

    There is way too much peanut in this bracket. I would enjoy a lot of candy bars a lot more if American candymakers would, perhaps, have embraced the hazelnut or the almond with the fervour of European ones.

  • Melissa says:

    Take 5 is awesome. Whatchamacallit is also awesome and I grew up eating it. What a terrible choice! Oh, Henry! is also very delightful. I've never heard of Zero but my brother absolutely loved Alpine White even though I thought it was unnatural looking. Gag.

  • attica says:

    Worst possible pairing: Peppermint patties and Nutrageous. How is a person to choose? OMG, misery. I love them both so fiercely, and there are times when each has filled the 'I will never be happy again until I eat one' moments in my life.

    It breaks my heart there has to be a loser there.

    I agree that white chocolate is no chocolate at all, but it can be a pleasant palate cleanser when paired with the chocolates that are chocolate, especially at the darker end of the chocspectrum.

  • Beth in DC says:

    Oh, the poor Zero bar. It's my favorite! I respect Sars' opinion, but the Zero bar is white chocolate, neugetty, nutty perfection! They are also incredibly hard to find, so I know not too many people agree with me, which is ok b/c more Zero bars for me!

  • jive turkey says:

    I'm surprised I was still able to function well enough to vote on this one, seeing as how my brain was melting out my ears from watching that Alpine White commercial. Somehow, I knew EVERY WORD to the song. I'm also loving how hilariously sexual the whole thing is. Let us celebrate white chocolate and almonds by Doing It!

    Anyone else remember the Whatchamacallit jingle?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    That's actually Keckler's opinion (see the note at the top). Alas, I share it. I looooooved white chocolate as a kid and can't tolerate it now; it's both too rich and too fake.

  • Kristina says:

    I'm voting against anything with Hershey's in the title, on principle.

  • Carrie Ann says:

    Wow, this bracket is full of my favorites, so I'm bummed that eventually I will have to choose between them. Already, choosing between Whatchamacallits and Take 5 was tough. But not that tough, because Whatchamacallits are perfection. I mean, if you don't consider Snickers, which are actual perfection. Or Reese's, whose perfection lies in their simplicity. Hmm.

  • SDpfeiffy says:

    Just a small note of still-grieving for the Original Whitman's Sampler. I was the mom who loved getting the big box for each gift giving holiday. I loved the geriatric choices (cherry cordials, maple creams, NOUGAT, etc.) and I didn't have to share at all. Sadly, once Russell Stover bought the company, both quality and selection have nosedived.

  • Rachel also says:

    JennyB, I was wondering the same thing! I adore a Canadian dark chocolate Zero bar, where the filling is cool and creamy, like an Icy Square. And you have to bite it carefully to eat all the hard chocolate off around the outside first. MMMMMMM.

    It's wacky that 2 totally different things would end up with the same name!

  • Troy says:

    Oh my god, I haven't thought about Alpine White in YEARS. I always thought they looked EXACTLY like congealed bacon grease. *shudder*

    Thanks for killing any desire for candy I might have had today, Sars. No, seriously, thank you – my diet's been off the rails lately.

  • Roberta says:

    I voted York peppermint patty, but I only like the miniature ones that come in a bag. The full size individual ones have a strange and offputting chocolate:mint ratio.

  • Liz says:

    Holy cow – how can a candy bar with pretzels, caramel, chocolate and peanut butter LOSE??? Take 5 is my dream candy bar. Hopefully, it will rally.

  • Joe Reid says:

    I have to say, I think Symphony is getting a bum rap. It's the only instance in which I've loved Hershey's chocolate, plus those bits of toffee? Yum.

  • WG says:

    What happened to Marathon bars?!?!? OhhowIlovedthem.

  • Erin S says:

    What-EVER, Alpine White was amazing. I liked to freeze one for half an hour, and then throw it at the wall and open it up and eat all the little shards. Nom nom nom…

  • Alyce says:

    Dentifrice! Mint is so much more than a toothpaste flavor or palate cleanser. May I offer you a mojito?

    That's like objecting to coffee ice cream because it's also a beverage.

  • cayenne says:

    Ooh, Whatchamacallit. I remember that I was 9 when it debuted & the ads were all over the Saturday morning cartoons rotation out of Buffalo, and I could not wait to try it. And then I found out it wasn't available in Canada. As effin usual. So I pestered the hell out of my cousins from Jersey to bring them when they came to visit that year, and…bliss. It's still one of my fave chocolate bars, and I tell anyone visiting from the US to bring me some. Which reminds me that my sister is off to Michigan this weekend, so I can rebuild my stash.

    @Duana, they were very, very similar to the now-unavailable Special Crisp. Nothing like Wunderbar. Though that one rocks, too.

    @attica, too true. I went with Nutrageous – another US-only fave, but closely resembling the peanut butter Oh Henry – because I adore peanut butter and all the other bumf all over the bar, but it was a serious wrench. Nutrageous is so amazing that I've been known to use it as breakfast; I couldn't do that with York Peppermint Patties.

  • patater says:

    Oooh, Take 5's. Stupid name? Yes. Pretzel? GENIUS! And they were so good when they first came out and they were all fresh and none had gone stale on the store shelves….sigh.

    I, for one, love Symphony bars. Not too much toffee to get caught in your teeth, chocolate is pretty decent–I'm sorry to see it getting kicked to the curb.

    And let me ask: do they use different chocolate for Snickers in Europe? Because I remember eating them there and *loving* them, and then thinking that U.S. Snickers were blah in comparison when I got back. But I'm willing to accept that I totally made that up.

  • Jess F says:

    @StillAnotherKate – Yes. And Yes. The commercial that plays through my head every time is the one with the guy who thinks he's on a ski jump. Awesome :)

    Reese's vs Zero is like a matchup of suck for me – they should BOTH lose!

  • Jaybird says:

    Bitts, I feel you. In a non-dirty sort of way. UCK.

    My older son loathes milk chocolate/dark chocolate, and so Zero bars have become a necessary part of Easter baskets, Halloween, etc. Necessary. But a little bit of my soul chips off every time I buy one of those horrid white grubs.

  • Bria says:

    Man, I knew being allergic to peanuts was a total pain in my ass; it wasn't until I started working through these brackets that I realized how badly I'm getting the shaft in the candy world. I think I'd better console myself with a cubic yard of Cadbury caramel eggs….

  • Kymster says:

    @Kris – if your brother is in Northern California, and is anywhere near a Grocery Outlet, have him check there for Nut Goodies. They don't have them all the time, but they do have them probably 80% of the time that I visit the candy aisle.

  • Adlib says:

    Oh man, the Whatchamacallit vs. Take 5 nearly killed me. Whatchamacallit is my favorite AND it was my first candy bar ever as a kid. Take 5 is so so good though. *sigh* I had to pick Whatchamacallit though.

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