Chefs

Boston Chefs Share Their Most Loved (and Loathed) Halloween Candies

Peanut butter cups are thrillers, but candy corn makes their skin crawl.


Photo via iStock

Steel your sweet tooth: Halloween is on the horizon. It’s officially October, and the date now plods toward us like Michael Myers coming for a cornered babysitter. (Incidentally, this week the Salem Horror Fest screens a sneak preview of the horror flick franchise’s latest, 40th-anniversary entry.)

As we prepare to stockpile candies for trick-or-treaters—or, you know, to gorge during our own scary movie marathons—we thought it wise to consult a dozen actual chefs for their thoughts on favorite and least favorite Halloween candies. We sparked some wistful nostalgia (behold their costumed childhood photos!), culled some colorful quotes, and came to a few conclusions about how the pros view processed junk. In short: Man, y’all really hate candy corn, huh?

Chef Andy Husbands (right), trick-or-treating at age 3/Photo provided

Andy Husbands, chef-owner at The Smoke Shop

Ooh!

“One of my favorites has got to be Smarties! Lightly flavored, and the perfect combination of sweet and sour goodness. I’m also a huge fan of candy corn; bizarrely crumbly with a mysterious vanilla flavor.

Boo!

Bit-O-Honey is one of my least favorite candies out there. It has little to do with honey and almost everything to do with the sugar overload that has the ability to remove your fillings. Also, Dum Dums. Put in some effort, please? These small balls of sugar are like the amuse bouche of the candy world, skip them and move on to the main course!”

Tiffani Faison, chef-owner at Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama and Fool’s Errand

Ooh!

“I want all of the sugar, licorice, gummy candy—Dots, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, gummies—anything that will pull a filling right out of my teeth and give me instant cavities!”

Boo!

“Keep your nasty, stale, too-sour-for-no-good-reason Lemonheads. Those should have been put out to pasture when our parents were too old to trick or treat. Dispose. Those little pumpkins that are just gritty orange and green sugar in the shape of a little pumpkin? Neither cute nor yummy. At least make it taste like fake pumpkin. Trash. What are those gross red lips? Why do I need to look like a real housewife? Why do I need to eat my lips? Is is gum? Is it wax? Is it off of a wax museum celebrity? Oh my God, is Charo missing her lips? Dumpster.”

Michael Morway, executive chef at Trillium Brewing Company

Ooh!

Reese’s pumpkins are my jam. Perfect peanut butter to chocolate ratio. All the seasonal Reese’s are amazing: the pumpkin, the egg, and the tree! Bring it.”

Boo!

“First off, I just don’t understand candy corn! What is it supposed to taste like? It just has the mouthfeel of eating wax to me. My 9 year-old, Brady, is obsessed with it though. So, maybe it is something that is only meant for the palate of the unique child brain?”

Pint-sized Michael Scelfo does his best “Teen Wolf” impression trick-or-treating/Photo provided

Michael Scelfo, chef-owner at Alden & Harlow and Waypoint

Ooh!

“My favorite Halloween indulgence is 100 Grand Bars; I have loved the chocolate-caramel-rice crisp combo of these since I was a kid. They are light and crisp but super rich at the same time.”

Boo!

Necco Wafers. Just gross, some things go away for a reason, and if i’m ever missing them—I’m not—I can always raid my kids’ box of colored sidewalk chalk to munch on. Yum.”

Bobbie Lloyd, chief baking officer at Magnolia Bakery

Ooh!

“I love, love, love candy corn. I refer to it as a food group all on its own. I can’t wait until Halloween season to get my fresh bag of candy corn. I eat each color section on its own, starting with the white and working my way down. There is just something about that sweet vanilla-ish flavor that gets me. Plus, they make the cutest decorations on all things sweet, from cookies to cakes and cupcakes. “

Boo!

Sour Patch Kids make my skin crawl!”

Cara Nance, executive chef at Lower Mills Tavern:

Ooh!

“Best? Twizzlers, hands down. Delicious literally any time and somehow they last through Halloween into Christmas. Also multi-faceted, and can be used  as a weapon to whip your little brother with, or as a new-age straw in this sea turtle-saving culture we are livin’ in.”

Boo!

“Worst? Candy corn. Because I can only imagine who decided it was a good idea to make a candy that I’m pretty sure tastes like a mixture between a taffy you found in between your couch cushions and those weird urinal cakes.”

Baby Brian Poe rocking plaid pants and a pumpkin on Halloween/Photo provided

Brian Poe, chef-owner at Poe’s Tip Tap Room, Parish Café, Lower Depths, Bukowski’s Cambridge

Ooh! (and Boo!)

“I never eat sweets—but I’m a 100% Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures kind of guy. They are the best. We’ve lived in our house for five years now.  It’s on a busy road to Salem that has never had one single trick or treater. I always buy two bags of the peanut butter cups, to which my wife rolls her eyes. I sit, eat peanut butter cups, and watch as all of the traffic goes through Danvers into Salem for Halloween. I have a couple of glasses of wine. I lose count on how many peanut butter cups I’ve eaten. I wonder why I have a tremendous stomach ache—then I decide that Reese’s Peanut Butter cups are the worst. True story. Every year of my life.”

Michael Schlow, chef-owner at Tico and Alta Strada 

Ooh!

“I love a good Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and it’s always hard to resist a Kit Kat, especially if either are frozen, but the Almond Joy has always taken top honors for me at Halloween. It has it all! The combination of milk chocolate and sweet, chewy coconut would be enough to keep me devoted, but when you get that random crunchy bite of almond, the experience takes on a whole new level of Halloween bliss. Once I start, I kind of can’t stop eating them; luckily my kids hide all the candy they get from trick-or-treating!”

Boo!

Candy corn. Why? Pellets of pure sugar, corn syrup, binders, and carnauba wax dyed 3 colors to ‘mimic’ real corn. Do I really need to go on?”

A devilish Sean MacAlpine celebrating Halloween in 1989/Photo provided

Sean MacAlpine, executive chef at the Lenox Hotel (City Table, Solas, and City Bar)

Ooh!

“Favorite: Gummies. Halloween seems to be all about chocolate. As a kid I would be over the moon if a house we visited had Sour Patch Kids or peach rings. You better believe my kids and I will be on the hunt for the gummy house this year.”

Boo!

“Least favorite: Circus Peanuts. You don’t see them now as often as you did when I was growing up, might have something to do with them tasting like chalk.”

Brian Dandro, executive chef at ArtBar

Ooh! (and Boo!)

Candy corn. It’s my favorite and also least favorite Halloween candy. When I first see it on shelves, I grab far more bags than any one person should ever consume. By the time I’ve finish the third bag, I never want to eat another waxy kernel again—or at least until next year.”

Colton Coburn Wood, chef at Yellow Door Taqueria

Ooh!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The perfect combination of sweet and salty, the most decadent candy on the planet made by Zeus himself on Mount Olympus in the year 1200 BC.”

Boo!

“The wicked evil Mounds, which of course in Ancient Greek translates to ‘the worst [expletive] candy ever made.’ When Mounds was cast out of Greece it drifted endlessly through the oceans. Until one day it drifted ashore to what is now our United States, slowly using its trickery and malice to brainwash the innocent into believing it was the superior candy. You must beware even today, my fine Americans, not to be tricked and taken by Mounds—for you will live a life of shame, neglect, and hatred from all those who know: Mounds sucks!”

Daniel Pagano, executive chef at Lion’s Tail

Ooh!

“If I have to pick a favorite Halloween candy I am definitely going with a classic. Kit Kat all day. Rich creamy milk chocolate, crispy wafer cookie. Simple. Tasty. Texturally pleasing. Perfect.”

Boo!

“Least favorite is a no-brainer. Candy corn. I don’t get it. Never have. It’s just sugar! No standout flavors or textures whatsoever! I’m sure many will take offense to this, but candy corn is straight garbage.”