Holiday Candy Roundup

What to eat and what to regift from your stocking (or the ordained candy receptacle of your personal faith) this year.

Cookies and Cream Santa (Palmer)
When I used to go to the supermarket with my mom as a little kid, she sometimes let me pick a candy bar at checkout, and I would always nab the Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bar. The last time that happened I was about eight years old, so I was excited to revisit the flavor with this Palmer’s Cookies and Cream Santa, which was 59 cents at CVS. My fantasy of revisiting my favorite childhood treat was crushed by the reality of this horrible thing, which is predominantly cloying white chocolate with about four teensy, grain-of-sand-size bits of chocolate cookie in the whole damn thing. The white chocolate tastes like extremely oversweetened, hardened yogurt, which I hate. If I want chocolate, you better believe I’m going to be pissed if it tastes at all like health food. I threw this thing away before I even got to the Santa feet, and since it’s tiny, that means I was able to stand only about three bites. If someone puts this in your stocking, promptly regift it to a family member whom you don’t like very much, an eight-year-old with questionable taste in candy, or the guy reading over my shoulder in the library where I’m writing this who just breathily murmured, “CHOCOLATE, NOW I WANT CHOCOLATE.” —Amy Rose

Double Decker (Cadbury)
This chocolate bar is so sweet I couldn’t eat it all at once (first sign that I’m getting old), but it’s still full of magic. It’s made of layered cereal and nougat, covered in chocolate. It’s a chewy bar that goes down easier when it’s been warmed slightly—it tastes better after you’ve dunked it in your coffee. If you’re not a caffeine fiend like me you could dunk it in hot chocolate instead, but the result would be so sugary you’d risk falling into a sugar coma and having your little brother steal the rest of your Double Decker. Proceed with caution. —Anna

Hannukah gelt
Gelt is chocolate disguised as money, and who doesn’t like either of those things? Real gelt is an endangered species, sadly, and can only be found at synagogue gift shops, so you’d better hope you know a guy who can hook you up with the real, menorah-embossed wrappers. None of this Walgreens, American quarters shit. You need Hebrew lettering if you want the real deal. For the full experience, use gelt to play dreidel. —Tavi

Mazapan (De La Rosa)
Mazapan aka “Mexican Rose Candy” (because of the red rose on the wrapper) smells like peanut butter and tastes like 30% peanut and…70% sugar! Eating it makes me feel like Little Chrissy from Pecker. If I was on a Bachelorette-type show, I’d give away these guys instead of roses. “Hunk #13, will you accept this Mexican Rose Candy?” —Marie

Peanut M&M’s (Mars)
Every time I want candy I’m disappointed that it’s Peanut M&M’s I want and I still haven’t found anything even slightly cooler or less obvious. But you know what? Who cares! There’s exactly the right proportion of chocolate to peanut, the peanut makes it so the whole thing isn’t too sweet, and who in the world thought of that hard shell coating? Seriously. What’s it made of? OK, sugar, sure. There are two ways to eat Peanut M&M’s, of course. You can just chomp them down, get that mix of all the flavors at once. Or you can suck on them. This works better in the movies, I think. For one thing, it helps stretch the little movie box for way, way longer. But it also is more satisfying to taste first the sugary coating, then the chocolate, then the peanut. It’s a perfect three-course meal, each course so different from the one before it, but such a perfect follow-up. When you get to the peanut of course you have to begin chewing, and by then, all the sweetness is gone from your mouth, it’s all peanut in there—which is the perfect setup to pop the next one in and get the sweet thing going again from the beginning. —Ira Glass

Zotz (Ambrosoli)
It looks like a cough drop but it’s filled with a sour fizz. The grape one has that delicious Dimetapp taste we know and love. I recommend NOT taking it out and staring at it when it starts to fizz though. Kinda freaked me out. —Marie

Holiday NERDS Rope (Wonka)
Wonka NERDS are the shit. I like to suck on them until they lose their colored candy coating and are unmasked as the crystalline sugar rocks they really are—chewing them can sort of hurt, actually! They rank highly on my list of favorite candies, accompanied by Take 5 bars (the ruler of all candy) and gummy anything. Fortunately, a combination of two of my favorites exists in this beautiful world, thus creating a whole new category of candy to cherish and adore: the NERDS Rope! The holiday one tastes exactly like the regular version to me, which is to say, delicious. It’s long, spindly, and probably best eaten in private—there’s no graceful way to chomp on this thing. I think the manufacturers realize this, because the packaging is a little savage in its suggestions as to how to best enjoy (or destroy) it: “Bite it! Chew it! Twist it! Pull it!” is printed all along the wrapper, in recognition of the hard work you’ll have to put in to devour it. It’s totally worth the struggle, especially because the NERDS are festively made up of the two best candy flavor-colors, red and green, and then a really sour and tasty white as well. Truth be told, though, I would love this candy object even if it were colored puke-green and gray. If you like gummies and a touch of violence with your candy, I think you’ll agree. —Amy Rose

Fry’s Turkish Delight (Cadbury)
Let’s acknowledge this up front: Turkish delight (called lokum in its original language) tastes like perfume. This makes sense, since the candied gel is usually flavored with rose water. Though the taste can be a bit unusual to those trying it for the first time, it does have a tendency to stick with you. Its strong fragrance makes me feel like I’m in a Grey Gardens-type setting every time I eat it. —Anna

Nik-L-Nip (Tootsie Roll Industries)
When I was a kid, my favorite part of Christmas was unloading my stocking, because I’d always get comics and NIK-L-NIP! Something about these wax soda-bottle-shaped candies was awesome, even though you only got a drop of juice. Biting into the wax just now gave me a flashback to having braces, so THAT was weird. Maybe I liked how they look more than how they taste? —Marie

Fizzy Cola (Haribo)
Obviously I like candy that looks like soda. I quickly popped one of these bottle-shaped gummies in my mouth, and spit it out even faster. It tasted like Lysol! I couldn’t deal. If you like sour fake-lemon taste, this one’s for you. —Marie

Chocolate Pop Rocks (Zeta Especial)
The only thing that could make Pop Rocks more exciting is drawing out the anticipation of their show-stopping effects. This candy doesn’t stop popping until the chocolate surrounding it slowly melts away; it’s like a countdown to awesome happening in your mouth. Wanting to challenge myself, I decided to test the old myth about pop rocks and soda being a lethal combination. Vanilla Coke seemed to be the natural thing to mix with chocolate pop rocks; luckily, my stomach didn’t explode, though it did leave me all sexy and bloated. (If you want to see a real candy explosion, put a Mentos into a bottle of Pepsi, but be careful to do it outside; it will be messy.) —Anna

Pop Rocks Foam-Blastic (Zeta Especial)
This came in the form of a red powder, with a package that advised me to “shake well and pour into mouth”—and I always do what candy wrappers tell me to, without question. Once in my mouth these turned into a bright blue foam, like what would happen if Willy Wonka tried to make a latte. Scare your friends into thinking you have Technicolor rabies. —Anna

Assorted Bonbons (Garoto)
This Brazilian brand makes some of the richest chocolate I’ve ever tried. Their bonbons have nutty, creamy centers, surrounded by a thin wafer and covered in chocolate. The hazelnut one is my personal favorite. —Anna

Gummy Tummy Penguins (Trader Joe’s)
You have to wonder why the good people at TJ’s are so eager for us candy lovers to know that these gummies are made from vegetable parts. If I wanted a vegetable I would go to a garden or a forest or a greengrocer, not to a bag of candy. The candy itself tastes suspiciously like something trying very hard to convince you that it is good for you even though you still know it is made from old bones. Like an ex-boyfriend. Furthermore, don’t tell me I am going to tear into a bag of tasty penguins only to find what appear to be a bunch of blisters with too much personality.
Bunny Gummy Tummies and Friends (Trader Joe’s)
This looks like if you sneezed and it came out of your body you’d be in serious trouble. —Kevin Townley

Pink Lemonade Airheads (Perfetti Van Melle)
If you grew up in North America, you’ve probably already tried Airheads, a chewy, gritty, not-quite-taffy-but-not-far-from-it candy. The Pink Lemonade flavor is surprisingly strong in taste; of course it doesn’t come close to the actual beverage, but it’s a less messy version that you can eat on the bus. —Anna

Botan Rice Candy (JFC International)
This magic little box of Japanese candy brought me a lot of happiness growing up. First of all, the box displays the cutest artwork and announces a special surprise inside! What? Candy AND a surprise? YOU SPOIL ME, BRC! Back in the olden days the prezzie was a tiny toy, then a tattoo, and now they are stickers. The candy itself is cubes of orange-lemon flavored jelly…wrapped in an EDIBLE RICE WRAPPER! So much sorcery! This is why Japan is the best. —Marie


  • Nomi December 1st, 2011 11:10 PM

    I have to disagree about the fizzy cola and the gummy tummy penguins. Both candies are incredibly delicious in my opinion. Fizzy cola is perfectly coke flavored and the gummy tummies of the gummy tummy penguins are so fun to eat and yummy too.

  • aidee December 1st, 2011 11:38 PM

    mazapan de la rosa it’s one of the greatest candy on the history,like seriously.

  • December 1st, 2011 11:49 PM

    I like the Cadbury Turkish Delight because it’s coated with chocolate. When it’s by itself or just dusted with some icing-sugar, it can be a bit too intense.

  • unicorn December 1st, 2011 11:51 PM

    i nearly died of happiness when i saw botan rice candy on here. i cover my journals/planners/notebooks/binders with the stickers.
    they are the best candy ever.

  • Razzmatazzberry December 1st, 2011 11:55 PM

    My friend and I bought advent calendars from Trader Joe’s for cheap fun (although we both celebrate channukah) and we tried them today. I gotta say, I’m sticking to gelt.

  • missblack December 2nd, 2011 12:13 AM

    OK so I literally just had Turkish Delight for the first time two days ago (my older sister’s boyfriend had some from his native Ireland and he gave it to us – because apparently they don’t sell Turkish Delight in Buffalo) and my entire family spit it out and said it was disgusting but I actually quite liked it. I thought it was better without the chocolate coating, and I would have preferred confectioner’s sugar like in the olden days.
    Verdict was that it was pretty good but definitely not worth betraying Narnia.


  • Hedwig December 2nd, 2011 12:33 AM

    Marie! I love you

  • Paloma December 2nd, 2011 1:11 AM

    Ohh buddy I need some candy now. I absolutely love peppermint hard candies. I eat them year round because I am a senior citizen.

    • CariStereo December 2nd, 2011 7:25 AM

      I looove and adore those. They’re like… free presents whenever you leave a restaurant, how can you not love them? Plus, they’re so cool looking. Red & white op art swirly heaven!

  • vanessa December 2nd, 2011 1:43 AM

    I love botan rice candy! my current candy addiction is pop rocks, I keep having dreams about it.

    sadly, my cousin ruined mexican rose candy when he convinced me that a bullion cube was the same thing. :o(

  • MarieJo December 2nd, 2011 4:01 AM

    I have to say that I disagree on Mazapán.
    They are like the BEST THING EVER.

    While growing up in Mexico you need to work a lot on the art of unwrapping them without breaking it and making a Big big mess.
    Sorry, Rookie, but you dissapointed me for the first time, Mazapán is so so so so good!

    • Anaheed December 2nd, 2011 9:22 PM

      But Marie likes it! ERASE YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT.

  • Narnie December 2nd, 2011 6:23 AM

    Oh I miss Airheads…They used to be all the rage here in Australia, then suddenly disappeared. Damn, I love those things.

  • care-n December 2nd, 2011 6:56 AM

    I do not know the taste of these candies except the garoto bonbons which, for me, not so good :( I recomend lacta bonbons (also brazilian chocolate).

    omg, now I want to try all of this…

  • ness December 2nd, 2011 7:20 AM

    This post is killing me because most of these don’t exist in France and I want to try them!!

  • LittleRed December 2nd, 2011 7:36 AM

    Haribo is the best!

  • Maddy December 2nd, 2011 7:51 AM

    gelt. it makes me feel so jewish.
    nerds rope! my school sells these and kids go around eating them as lunch.
    peanut M&Ms! My favorite, Ira Glass! :)

  • soretudaaa December 2nd, 2011 7:54 AM

    Oh, God, Garoto…I could eat a whole box in like, less than 5 minutes.

  • HeartPlant December 2nd, 2011 8:57 AM

    I feel desperately sorry for Americans and their poor variety of chocolate and sweets. From this article it seems like you don’t really have much going for you. Do you have Lion bars? Or Aero? Or Aniseed Balls? Or Pontefract cakes? What about KitKats? I think a part of me would die if I could never eat another KitKat….

    • erin December 2nd, 2011 11:32 AM

      We have kitkats, although something tells me yours are probably better/different, though ours are pretty good. all those things sound so cool….

      • HeartPlant December 2nd, 2011 3:43 PM

        I think the KitKat has the ideal amount of chocolate to wafer ratio. KitKat Chunky is just wrong! Perhaps I should find something more useful to occupy my time…. Actually, see if you can get your hands on a Lion bar, they are amazing! Oooh, what about Munchies? Or Smarties? Or Fruit Pastilles? Or Starburst??? Hahaha, I’m so old I remember them as Opal Fruits. Oh dear… now I’m reminiscing about getting sweets on the way home from school! Good times.

    • Tavi December 3rd, 2011 2:58 PM

      America is a MELTING POT of candies in the right places

  • FashionHauties December 2nd, 2011 9:18 AM

    I love this article, rookie! It makes me seriously hungry sitting here- I might as well make a trip to the candy shop tonight- I want to try the Pop Rocks, Nip N’ Licks, and the Japaneese Rice Candy! :d .. Delicious.

  • Ruby B. December 2nd, 2011 10:37 AM

    Hannukah gelt is always wonderful, even if it is just the fake Wallgreens kind. Of course, there’s something special about the “authentic” ones, but you still get to unwrap the gold foil carefully, keeping the shape, and then eat the glorious chocolate as a reward to yourself for not ripping it, even if it is fake.

    I need some candy now.

  • emilyelizabeth December 2nd, 2011 11:24 AM

    i must disagree about the gummy tummy penguins. my mom sent me some in a care package a few weeks ago and they were delicious!! they’re like gushers only better because they’re penguins.

  • erin December 2nd, 2011 11:27 AM

    I used to love zots… then they started giving me headaches. too much fizz, I suppose. also, I once tried these rose flavored mints, and I loved them! it was such a strange flavor, and so fun to eat. also, where can I find all of these candies? I’m so fascinated by the turkish delight and that japanese one and the Brazilian nut bonbons sound amazing!

  • RockHatesMiriam December 2nd, 2011 12:28 PM

    They don’t have most of theese in the UK :( but I have to agree that peanut M&Ms are the bestest!! They cost like 65p in my local corner shop, but worth it…

  • Jamie December 2nd, 2011 3:45 PM

    ira’s post about pnut m&ms really broke new ground in the field of candy reviews. i use the suck method, but i never even know it was a thing that other people did.

  • annalise December 2nd, 2011 4:17 PM

    I saw that little bit written by Ira Glass and freaked out. How did…you got to…I can’t even…IRA GLASS

  • Zara December 2nd, 2011 5:07 PM

    The Botan Rice Candy sounds amazing I remember eating a bowl of white rice with a bit of coconut milk and cinnamon sprinkled on top every morning as a kid. Now I feel like going to the Asian market.

    I love pop rocks too I was thinking of having a sleepover and making cupcakes with pop rocks sprinkled over the frosting.

  • WitchesRave December 2nd, 2011 5:43 PM

    Wait, WHAT? Peanut M&M’s are different flavoured?!

    • Anaheed December 2nd, 2011 9:23 PM

      The peanut makes it different!

  • Yasmin December 3rd, 2011 4:38 PM

    Fry’s Turkish Delights are a poor imitation of real lokum! If you get a chance, I highly recommend rose-flavored lokum with nuts in the center; it actually does taste like perfume.

  • sevenofnine December 3rd, 2011 7:21 PM

    The Life Saver Books were always my favorite stocking stuffer. My sister and I would trade back and forth. I LOVED the butterscotch rolls. Cherry was a close second. I loved sucking them down until the hole in the middle got big enough to put on the tip of my tongue.

  • ruby December 4th, 2011 3:21 AM

    the BEST christmas chocolate is a Terrys chocolate orange! (i’m from england, i don’t know if they exist in the rest of the world) They come in a big orange-shape, and you have to bash them really hard until they break into segments (: mmmmmm…

  • Gretchyn December 5th, 2011 4:38 PM

    BOTAN RICE CANDY!!!!!!!!!!! Yes that is my fav winter candy. It is also a candy of love, in case ya didn’t know~

  • ladyjenna December 9th, 2011 10:28 PM

    WHAT ABOUT PEPPERMINT BARK??? THAT STUFFS THE SHIZ but costs like 26$ at williams sonoma, so better get your dad’s boss to get some for you. Or your rich grama. Or whateves. Just eat it. And your life will be changed.

  • Indica December 10th, 2011 3:12 PM

    I absolutely love Botan Rice Candy! I live in a little coastal town, and going to the local seafood market would have been a less-than-desirable experience for me if they didn’t have these little guys at the register. Their little green boxes were both unusual and adorable, and I loved everything about them. Unfortunately, they stopped carrying Botan Rice Candy when I was about ten, (probably because I was the only person buying them) and I haven’t been back there ever since. Adding them to your list was a pleasant blast from the past!