Sorry Halloween, but candy aisles shine brightest when they’re filled with the wonderment of Easter candy.
As I perused the grocery store aisles this fall, I came to a realization: I wish the seasonal Halloween aisle, filled with massive bags of mini candies, was actually stocked with Easter candy. Here’s the truth, friends: Easter is the superior candy holiday.
These holidays are totally backwards. The Lord’s day somehow outshines the Devil’s in terms of treats. Even though the Devil’s whole thing is temptation, gluttony, and sin, Halloween rolls out a bunch of puritanical, flavor-hating, old-timey confections each year. The holiday is dominated by pre-1950s candy bars, wax, gum, and taffy. Snickers are basic. Twizzlers are candles without the fire. Tootsie Pops are aggressively lackluster. Skittles, M&M’s, and Sour Patch Kids can be bought year round, and fun-size candy is just a smaller version of candy that is already bad—making a Payday smaller doesn’t erase the fact that it’s going to taste like peanuts and glue. Good & Plenty look like ibuprofen, and eating one feels like “taking your medicine.” No, friends, Halloween phones it in, and this is coming from somebody who actually likes candy corn.
Easter candy, meanwhile, is a mind-blowing explosion of experimental flavors. Every year companies take big swings. Jelly Belly, an Easter staple, always sets the tone. Every year, they roll out a new, adventurous flavor. Take the buttered popcorn flavor, which debuted in 1989. Love it or hate it, the divisive bean continues to make waves and adds intrigue to an Easter basket. Today, Jelly Belly’s product lineup is full of wild concepts and brand integrations. Some of their flavor collections include: Superfruit (featuring exotic fruits like acai berry and Barbados cherry), Cold Stone Creamery, Cocktail Classics, Krispy Kreme Doughnut (which you can buy in a doughnut box!), and Extreme Sports Beans (fortified with caffeine). Jelly Belly is everything a candy company should be. They channel the eccentric, pure-hearted Willy Wonka. They’re wacky. They take risks. Candy should be fun, and Jelly Belly has fun. Take the chaotic BeanBoozled Challenge with your friends and pair classic Jelly Belly flavors with offputting tastes like stinky socks, rotten eggs, and dirty dishwater in a game of candy Russian roulette. The 50-flavor gift box is a bit more stable in its compartmentalized structure, but still offers more than 4 dozen different flavors. Meanwhile, Skittles trots out the same six barely discernable candy pieces every October. It’s a no contest. Jelly Belly knows that candy, at its core, is a fluid concept meant to be explored.
Hell, even Peeps saw the writing on the wall and adjusted, rolling out dozens of new flavors and candy collaborations. They flipped the perception of their product from stale yellow marshmallows to unpredictable genius. Personally, I don’t like Hot Tamale Peeps, but I love that they exist. Pepsi Peeps, Cotton Candy Peeps, Bubble Gum Peeps, Chicken Parm Peeps (OK, I made that one up), all fit the platonic ideal of Easter candy.
Sure, some companies swing and miss—and that’s a part of the fun. I hope the person who invented Honey Graham M&M’s lands back on their feet at a job that discourages some ideas. Oreo creme eggs don’t exactly nail it. But, Fruity Pebbles hit a home run into the upper deck with their cereal and candy eggs.
Easter has a lively and unpredictable candy identity leading to an explosion of textures and unique tastes, and it behooves candy corporations to join the free-for-all. Starburst is a good example of a company that leaned in and made a profit. Back in 1995, they transitioned the iconic juicy, sweet, sometimes tart, chewable squares into toothsome jelly beans. They changed forms. They evolved. And they became such a hit with consumers that Starburst Jellybeans are now synonymous with Easter candy. Candy companies who aren’t getting creative with an Easter offering are leaving money on the table. And if we’re talking classics, there is nothing quite like the decadent surprise of a Cadbury Creme Egg. But I don’t have time to even get into that. That’s how vast and wondrous the category of Easter candy is. Every spring, the grocery store candy aisle turns into a magical and eccentric candy madhouse. It’s bright, inventive, fun, and I can’t wait til the stores become filled with pastel packaging once again. And I hope you’ll join me in the light. Because the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing us that Halloween candy was somehow good.