In October, every major grocery store greets its customers with a wall of candy. Brands like Nestlé, Hershey’s, Reese’s, and Mars fight for the centre placement on store shelves to sell more product. But do any of us actually enjoy these candies? Is there a common favourite candy bar?
For those who grew up in Ontario, the bright red box of Nestlé assorted mini-bars reeks of Halloween nostalgia. But for me, October 31 is not Americanized: Hershey’s chocolate is not sold in Scotland, and I am part of the demographic who believes Hershey’s tastes like puke (and I am not sorry about it). The term “candy” wasn’t even in my vocabulary until I moved to Canada as a teenager. Instead, I grew up with “sweeties,” “sweets,” and “chocolate bars.”
Due to the University of Toronto’s vast immigrant and international student population, I know I am not the only one who has missed out on loving Canada’s conglomerate of Halloween candies. Because of our diversity, our campus lacks a common favourite candy bar, and we will never collectively agree on one candy as being the best.
Yet, there is one thing we can all agree on: size is king. There is no denying that across the world, full and king-sized chocolate bars are the crème of the crop. I’m sure you can recall that at the end of a long night of trick-or-treating, the one king-sized Coffee Crisp you scored easily beat out the 10 mini Coffee Crisps spread around the bottom of your candy bag. The joy you felt receiving a huge bar, of any kind, was more important than what the candy actually was.
When you were sorting through your candy and trading the bars you didn’t want with your friends, the rarefied items were always the king-sized bars. Even I can attest that a full or king-size bar of yucky Hershey’s is infinitely better than a dozen mini-bars of the wretched stuff.
However, the size made the bar better on more than just the surface level. As children, we valued king-size more because we would remember who gave it to us. Every neighbourhood had a house that was notorious for handing out full-sized bars, and we would remember the delight on the adults’ faces when handing us that luxurious jumbo bar. They knew the happiness they were handing us, and we made a memory of them in return.
What I miss most about Halloween in Scotland are the unique sweets I would score throughout the night. From spooky jelly eyeballs to gummy bats, spiders, rats, and green sticky hands, these sweeties were my favourites because they were the most memorable. These “rares” instantly earned a higher ranking because they were harder to find in stores, which instantly set them apart from the hundreds of mini-bars waiting for you upon entry to any Walmart (or ASDA, for my fellow UK folks).
As Halloween grows and becomes more about profit every year, it’s the treats that make you feel joy that are the best. Although our campus does not share a love for one specific North American candy bar, we can agree that the most loved candies are those with the richest memories attached to them.