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Home » Culture and Criticism

N Candy AA II: Sweet Sixteen

Submitted by on November 8, 2010 – 10:34 AM32 Comments

Updated bracket is here. Confused? Click here. Polls close 11:59 AM ET on Wednesday.

8 Sugar Daddy/Babies; Slo-Poke vs. 4 Pop Rocks. I’ve got nothing against Pop Rocks, but as candies go, it’s just not that satisfying for me. I like the flavors, but the novelty wears off quickly, and I’d rather eat something chewy and substantial. Granted, the opponent takes “chewy and substantial” to rather a ridiculous extreme, but I’m voting Babies. That said, I predict a tight race, with Rocks the eventual victor.

8 Sugar Daddy/Babies; Slo-Poke vs. 4 Pop Rocks

  • Sugar Daddy/Babies; Slo-Poke (55%, 481 Votes)
  • Pop Rocks (45%, 390 Votes)

Total Voters: 871

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11 pillow mints vs. 10 Nerds. Pillow mints’ defeat of Tic-Tacs is the upset of the draw so far. Not that it was decisive — a mere four votes separated the two — but I didn’t expect the pillows to notch even thirty percent. Can they continue their unlikely run? Doubtful. Nerds, a stealth favorite, have been trouncing the competition by healthy margins thus far. Pillow mints get my vote, but Nerds will get yours. [“I’m rooting for pillow mints now — them’s a scrappy, spunky kind of candy!” — Keckler]

11 pillow mints vs. 10 Nerds

  • Nerds (63%, 561 Votes)
  • pillow mints (37%, 331 Votes)

Total Voters: 892

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1 Peeps vs. 5 saltwater taffy. Keckler picked Peeps to take the N Candy AA Non-Chocolate crown, and while I can see that happening, I can also see Peep-haters punting the little bunnies into oblivion this round. Peeps should have crushed Now & Laters, but didn’t, and as much as people (myself included) love them, saltwater taffy seems to figure into far more nostalgic summer memories. I know it brings me right back to the summer of ’81. Grandma and I got a peppermint piece to stretch the whole width of the living room in Stone Harbor. Good times. Anyway: tough call — you can’t make taffy joust in the microwave — but I’ll pick taffy FTW.

1 Peeps vs. 5 saltwater taffy

  • saltwater taffy (66%, 587 Votes)
  • Peeps (34%, 304 Votes)

Total Voters: 891

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11 Smarties/SweeTarts vs. 15 gobstoppers. …Jesus. I don’t understand what either of these is still doing in the competition. One tastes like bile unless you heat it up; the other is a sugar goiter that makes you look like you’re committing sodomy; neither of them is a root-beer Dum Dum, whose shocking departure I hereby memorialize by not caring who wins this matchup. It’ll be Smarties, though. Unfortunately.


11 Smarties/SweeTarts vs. 15 gobstoppers

  • Smarties/SweeTarts (69%, 611 Votes)
  • gobstoppers et al. (31%, 274 Votes)

Total Voters: 885

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1 Skittles vs. 4 Life Savers. I suddenly remembered Cream Savers the other day. I know they almost killed Bunting, and were it not for Couch Baron MacGyvering up her release with a can of Diet Coke, she would no longer be with us BUT I still love them. (Bunting does, too, I think. It’s an abusive relationship, but we support her anyway. [“You guys just don’t understand them! They can be very sweet! …Lifetime-movie cracks aside, yes, I do still love them, even those pink-headed stepchildren the raspberry flavor.” — Bunting]) Point is, Cream Savers plus the warm (and previously mentioned) childhood memories I have of Life Savers means I want them to win.

However, I will say that touting them as “the first dairy-based Life Savers” actually kind of grosses me out. Apparently, they’re made with real cream, which might not go down well with the lactose-intolerant. (Hew.) Oh, and “real cream” translates as “cream (milk)” in the ingredients, which is probably why they decided to go with the would-be-French-with-an-accent-grave “crème.” I’m not making a very good case for Life Savers. But I still want them to win. Point of order: should we pronounce them “Crem Savers”? And if we did, could we pretend that the Kremlin hands them out to visitors, the same way the White House does M&Ms?

1 Skittles vs. 4 Life Savers

  • Skittles (57%, 516 Votes)
  • Life Savers (43%, 386 Votes)

Total Voters: 902

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3 Reese’s Pieces vs. 10 Jolly Ranchers. Two candies I just can’t get that excited about. While I do think their sour apple might possibly be the best sour apple candy I’ve had, JR’s just not that exciting. Also, despite evidence to the contrary, people still believe Reese’s Pieces have chocolate, and chocolate — even when it’s imaginary — beats Jolly Ranchers.

3 Reese's Pieces vs. 10 Jolly Ranchers

  • Reese's Pieces (70%, 628 Votes)
  • Jolly Ranchers (30%, 270 Votes)

Total Voters: 898

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1 Twizzlers/Nibs vs. 5 Kraft caramels. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! I can’t be expected to make this Sophie’s Choice. (BTW: I finally looked up the entire story of Sophie’s Choice on Wikipedia to figure out which kid she actually chose. I now do this with movies/books I am curious about but don’t want to see because I’ll never sleep again and/or stop crying. See also: The Ring, The Blair Witch Project, The Lovely Bones, etc.) Where was I? Oh, right: Twizzlers or Kraft cara– NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I CAN’T! I CAN’T DO THIS PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME CHOOOOOOOSE! Okay, I’ll go with Twizzlers.

1 Twizzlers/Nibs vs. 5 Kraft caramels

  • Kraft caramels (58%, 514 Votes)
  • Twizzlers/Nibs (42%, 377 Votes)

Total Voters: 891

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6 Jelly Bellies vs. 2 Starburst. Oh, come on: Starburst. There’s no question. Though I do need to say that I used to really like Jelly Bellies. Especially the translucent aqua ones that tasted like peppermint. (Which APPARENTLY no longer rate in their Official 50 Flavors.) And at the risk of grossing everyone out, I actually liked the buttered popcorn ones. I thought I would hate them, but they’re actually kind of awesome in their weirdness. Unlike the roarfy white coconut ones. [“I loved those. Keckler and Buntiiiiiing…FIGHT!” — Bunting] The thing with Starburst is that you know what flavors you’re getting, and you pretty much like all the flavors you’re getting. With Jelly Bellies, you probably get a whole lot that you hate. I guess you can now buy flavor-specific packs, but that doesn’t seem sporting somehow.

Another knock against Jelly Bellies is: where the hell do you even buy them? I never see them on sale anywhere. And now I’ve just completely grossed myself out by looking at all of Jelly Bellies flavor combos. Coldstone Creamery? I get food poisoning just by walking by one of those. Birthday Cake Remix?! …Yeah, Starburst. Totally.


6 Jelly Bellies vs. 2 Starburst

  • Starburst (63%, 564 Votes)
  • Jelly Bellies (37%, 334 Votes)

Total Voters: 898

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  • Meredith says:

    The only thing good about Jolly Ranchers is the way they flavor otherwise nasty drinks. Anyone else remember popping them into Zima? Made Zima almost tolerable. Almost. I’ve also had friends stick them into vodka tonics, but I think that’s an insult to vodka (well, good vodka).

  • Katie says:

    I HATE smarties. I mean REALLY HATE them, but you’ve paired them with SweeTarts which are completely different and absolutely lovely, so I’ve had to vote for my hated smarties every time…..SweeTarts are bigger, and don’t have that weird chalky non-flavor. Also? They come in a delightfully larger chewy variety that makes them an absolute favorite of mine. And on another note? Peeps? HATE. LOATHE. ABHOR. Would vote against them when matched up with absolutely any other candy (even black licorice).

  • Jenny says:

    So, Dum-Dums didn’t make it through? That’s crazy! I feel pretty meh about most of what’s left. I think Skittles is going to win the whole thing, though.

    Oh, also, my local Super Target sells jelly bellies. They’re in (small) bins so you can pick your flavors and buy a bag o’whatever you want. However, they’re pretty pricey.

  • Natalie says:

    I used to get my Jelly Bellies at the mall, when I was young and foolish and went to malls as entertainment. Now I get mine at the Super Target, where you can pick your flavors from the bins and try not to end up with a pound of candy by accident.

  • Snarkmeister says:

    Mmmm…I love SweeTarts (Smarties, not so much, although my son would eat them every day and twice on Tuesdays if he could). They are the big cousin of my favorite childhood candy, the Tart ‘n’ Tiny’s. I loved everything about those – little tiny pellets of chalky vaguely fruit-flavored goodness that you could dispense through the slider on top of the box. Love, love, love. If only Willy Wonka hadn’t stopped making them. :(

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    I agree with everyone who says SweeTarts and Smarties are two different candies. SweeTarts are delicious and have a wonderful texture. Smarties, blech!

    Can we have a runoff on these two?

  • Krista says:

    Ah…I love Smarties! I divide them up by color then eat starting with the white and usually ending with the purple. Take two packages so you have a good selection and then you can make flowers and other designs with them. What can I say – I have dial-up and kill time playing with my food while pages load.

    Also, I love Peeps! I don’t eat much for all the other holidays. I’m a traditionalist and prefer the chicks. They mean Easter to me. First you eat the beak, then the eyes, then the tail part, then the head, then what’s left is about two bites.

    I segregate my Skittles too. Usually leaving the purple/grape for last. This playoff is really showing me how particular I am.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    what’s left is about two bites

    What’s “left”?! I admire your restraint. One Peep = one bite around here.

  • Hoolia says:

    I LOVE buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies. There’s no need to ever get flavors you don’t like, though, when you can choose them individually.

    I used to work at a fancy candy store in a resort during the summers, and there was this adorable little boy who would come in every afternoon with his nanny and his two dollars and negotiate his Jelly Belly purchase. He was very serious…”four raspberry”…I’d put those on the scale…”three blueberry”…I’d add those…”two peanut butter”…I’d add them, he’d watch the price increase and ponder which flavor to add next… He was funny.

    There was also a very hot and charming guy who was a waiter at the restaurant across the path who would come in every day before his shift for a quarter pound of Jelly Bellies. He’d put them in his apron pocket and use them to perk himself up through the night.

    I have good memories of Jelly Bellies.

  • TashiAnn says:

    Everything left seems to be very fruit flavored or overly sweet. That’s why I think it’s going to be Reese’s Pieces for the win.

  • Tarn says:

    Twizzlers are still in this, while Red Vines are out?!? There is no justice!

    There is now way that nasty, too-sweet, weirdly-sweet waxy Twizzlers will beat the divine and heavenly taste of autumn homeyness (?) that is Kraft Caramels.

  • K. says:

    Kraft caramels vs. Twizzlers: no-brainer. Twizzlers are straws, only tougher and chewier. Kraft caramels are melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

    I like to separate my Skittles. Lime and strawberry are my favorites so I eat them last. But I only separate handful by handful: pour some in palm, separate, eat, repeat. I also like to save my strawberry Starbursts for last.

    Peeps are losing to taffy?? And I like taffy (I have fond memories of this one taffy/fudge/old-time candy place in Rehoboth, DE, where my family took beach vacations) but Peeps! I just bought some discounted Halloween Peeps over the weekend. Out of curiosity, those who voted for taffy, were you voting FOR taffy or AGAINST Peeps?

  • JC says:

    Ohhh, I remember those aqua Jelly Bellies – they were called Ice Blue Mint, I think – I thought they were a mite too strong for my kiddie palate. Now they’re called Berry Blue, which is kind of silly and redundant since the next flavor alphabetically is Blueberry, and there’s already Strawberry Daiquiri and Strawberry Jam, Raspberry, Wild Blackberry, AND even a Berry Smoothie. All of which can be found at my Super Target in individual mixing bins, same as Jenny noted above. Also, Costco carries gigantic plastic jars of assorted flavors, at $15 for around five pounds, give or take.

  • Rachel says:

    RIP, Pez.

    Anyway, I second everything @Katie said above up to and including the “even black licorice” comment because, ew, Peeps. I would vote for almost anything over Peeps, so deep is my hatred for them.

  • Tarn says:

    I’ve been tempted to buy that Costco jug o’ Jelly Bellies, but I don’t think I could forgive myself for doing so. And there would be a sad sad day when there would be nothing left in the jug but the buttered popcorn flavor. Ew.

    I have bought the Costco bag o’ Gummi Bears though. Did you know that Gummi Bears have mineral oil in them? And a lot of mineral oil…um…cleans you out? Yeah. I do not recommend eating large amounts of Gummi Bears.

  • Other Rachel says:

    So hard to choose between Twizzlers and Kraft caramels, but my loyalty to Twizzlers swayed me in the end.

    I now do this with movies/books I am curious about but don’t want to see because I’ll never sleep again and/or stop crying. See also: The Ring, The Blair Witch Project, The Lovely Bones, etc

    I do this all the time! I can’t so much as watch a commercial for a horror movie without getting freaked out, but I go to Wikipedia and read the plotlines just out of curiosity. In fact last weekend I spent a couple of hours reading a detailed list of every single Saw trap up through the latest one. Yeesh, self.

  • Grainger says:

    Jelly Bellies: I think they have some kind of turnkey standard selling unit, because damn near everywhere around here that sells food sells JB’s, and it’s all in the same way–that big rack of tubes (it’s the internet for jellybeans!)

    And every single one of them has a big sign, either hand-lettered or printed off-center in Comic Sans, reading “DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY SHUT OFF WHEN BAG IS FULL!”

  • AngieFM says:

    Skittles–I eat them two at a time. Orange first. Lemon and lime go together. Then red and purple go together, and last. The order is more important than eating them in pairs, so if there’s only one orange in the currently-being-eaten pile, I eat that first, solo. Then, as indicated above.

    @Tarn: Same thing happens with large amounts of sugar-free gummi bears. Though, now that I think about it, maybe I just ate more than usual because they were sugar-free. Lesson learned there.

  • Hoolia says:

    AngieFM: Sugar-free candy usually has sorbitol as a sweetener. Sorbitol is also a laxative.

  • Kathryn says:

    SweeTarts are heaven, especially the movie-box ones. The long tube of them tend to be too hard and crunchy, but the ones in the box will usually crumble to dust between my teeth. I like to save up a lot of my favorite TV show recaps and then read them all with a brand new box of SweeTarts. And speaking of recaps:

    I do this all the time! I can’t so much as watch a commercial for a horror movie without getting freaked out, but I go to Wikipedia and read the plotlines just out of curiosity. In fact last weekend I spent a couple of hours reading a detailed list of every single Saw trap up through the latest one. Yeesh, self.

    SO glad I’m not the only one who does this. Although up to this point I’ve only read the imdb plot synopsis for each Saw movie; it didn’t occur to me to read up the details on each trap. Must google…

  • Steph says:

    Tough round. Many of my favourites are gone.

    @Snarkmeister: I totally forgot about Tart n’ Tinys! Which I totally loved! Thank you for jogging my memory there.

    @Grainger: How come customers are never around when things happen that warrant signs like that? I WANT TO SEE THAT HAPPEN. (And Comic Sans? Most. annoying. font. ever. There are lots of new fonts now, people! Try one!)

  • david klein says:

    In 1976 I had 800.00 and a dream. The dream was to create the best jelly bean in the world…The end result was Jelly Belly….The dream turned into a nightmare four years later when I was forced to sell my interest in the product… A documentary on my life will air Nov 27 at 8:00 pm eastern and pacific on the Documentary channel…david klein

  • Jan says:

    IMHO: Sweettarts are pixy stix without the messy (cocaine-reminiscent) straw and powder problem.

    Smarties are their sad, unloved stepsiblings.

  • Toni says:

    Add me to the “Wiki’ed Saw Movies” group. The fact that just that kept me up all night just reinforces the fact that I’m NEVER actually watching the movies.

  • Tina says:

    @Other Rachel: Me, too! I will never ever sit through an entire Saw movie, but I can tell you the entire plot thanks to Wikipedia. See also: The Last House On The Left and The Crazies.

  • Tal says:

    I just want to say that not since elementary school (when I lived in an apartment development with its own Royal Farm Store) have I eaten as much non-chocolate candy as I have during the run of the NCandyAA II (currently loving a roll of the much-maligned Smarties). The manufacturer of Jelly Bellies thanks you; my waistline, not so much.

  • Jenn says:

    Why do they need a berry blue and a blueberry? I’m not really a berry person, so I doubt I’ve ever eaten them – do they taste any different?

    The Movie Spoiler is a great site for in-depth movie descriptions. (And I’m another person who reads the plots of horror movies I’ll never see.)

  • Lindsay says:

    @david klein — thanks for the heads-up, I’ll definitely be watching that.

    I’m afraid that the finals are going to come down to Reeses Pieces vs… and I’ll be voting for the other entry. I remember back in 5th grade when the movie E.T. came out and the alien ate them, I was the only kid in my class who didn’t love them. Candy-coated peanut butter? Blech.

  • Sarah says:

    I voted for taffy as a vote against Peeps. Don’t get me wrong, I love Peeps. But for me, they just don’t count as “candy.” They’re more of a snack or something than a candy. (I feel similarly about Fruit Roll-Ups.)

    Also ditto that Smarties are terrible but Sweetarts are AWESOME and there should be a run-off that makes that clear.

  • robin says:

    I have never been to a Coldstone Creamery store, but the CC Jelly Belly flavors are wonderful. They come about 4 flavors to a bag: chocolate, birthday cake, strawberry, and something minty. Pricey, too: I pay the same for a 6.5 oz bag of CC flavors as for a 7 oz bag of “original”, i.e. regular mixup. I get them right from my grocery store, which does _not_ have the choose-your-own-flavor setup. If I could get just one flavor at a time, it would be a different flavor each time.

  • sam says:

    thanks for the Sophie’s Choice on Wikipedia idea. I had long been wondering how I could find out without actually reading the book.

  • Jill TX says:

    @AngieFM: I never dreamed I’d find someone who eats Skittles in EXACTLY the same manner I do! How fun.

    Also, I had a studio art class a few summers ago, and every day at the break I’d buy a bag of Skittles and happily arrange them before eating, while the crits were going on. One day I realized that the entire class had stopped to stare at what I was doing, and one student photographer was documenting my “work.” After that, several of them started to do the same with their Skittles and M&Ms every day. It was a fun class.

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