PIA debates Halloween candy

October 20, 2021

Recently, PIA Northeast Government & Industry Affairs and Industry Resource Center staff—plus one mystery writer—were asked to make a case for their favorite Halloween candy, or in some cases, whatever candy was left after trick-or-treating was over. The choices from which to choose were:

  1. Kit Kat
  2. M&M’s
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Candy Corn
  5. Snickers
  6. Toothbrushes

The staff’s responses are below:

Director of Research Dan Corbin, CPCU, CIC, LUTC:

As much as I like Candy Corn and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the toothbrush option really is the right choice. You eat the candy and it’s gone—a fleeting moment of pleasure. Think of the economic value of a toothbrush. Compare the price of one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with the price of a good toothbrush. Clearly, the toothbrush makes economic sense. Not only that, but think of all the things—besides your teeth—that you can clean with a toothbrush: 

  • Grout
  • Fingernails
  • Computer keyboards
  • Shoes
  • Bike chains
  • Hairdryer vents
  • Jewelry
  • Hairbrushes

Blinds Remember: Preventative dental care can save hundreds of dollars in dental expenses. And, don’t forget to floss, too!

PAC Coordinator & Public Policy Analyst Katherine Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D.:

I love Candy Corn—the only true Halloween candy—because it is sweet without being too sweet, and you don’t have to eat a bunch of it to satisfy your sweet tooth (so you can indulge without compromising your waistline). The fact that the candy makers can make the three different colors taste different, all while being a part of the same piece of candy, is a feat of engineering genius!
 
Another reason Candy Corn is so amazing is that it is a special fall treat! You can get all of the other candies year-round, even in the mini sizes, so there is nothing special about them. Candy Corn, on the other hand, can be purchased only during the Halloween season, making it a sweet, coveted commodity.

Jack Skellington (mystery writer)

I would like to talk for a minute about the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille—stay with me on this one. Ratatouille is about a rat named Remy, who becomes a chef in a Parisian restaurant.

Spoiler alert: Toward the end of the movie, Remy prepares ratatouille—a medley of eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes and herbs—for the famous, but notoriously harsh food critic, Ego. Ego looks at the dish skeptically. You can tell he is waiting to be unimpressed, like always, so he can eviscerate the chef in his review. But then, he takes a bite, and it reminds him of his childhood, when his mother made him ratatouille. It was memory of simpler, happier times for Ego.
 
My point is that food—great food—is not great just because of its effect on our taste buds. It is great for the emotions and memories—nostalgia—that it triggers inside you. That experience is uniquely personal.  So, to me the question of what is the best candy isn’t really a question at all. The answer is clear. There only is one candy on this list that triggers an emotional reaction for me, and that candy is Kit Kat. It’s simple; it evokes nostalgia in me for when my only worries were whether grilled cheese would be served in my elementary-school cafeteria, and whether the Undertaker would wrestle on TV. Kit Kats remind me of when my friends and I formed an impromptu boy band and performed the Kit Kat theme song to the lunch room. Do I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&Ms? Of course. But, give me a Kit Kat and my memories any day.

Industry Resource Center & Government Administrative Assistant Mary Ellen Hern

M&M’s rule the candy world. M&M’s are a perfect candy because they embrace the dichotomies of the world. And, they are iconic. 
 
An M&M is a small, crisp candy shell that encases a drop of milk chocolate. Or, it’s a huge, mouthful of chocolate, when you consume many at a time and just drop them down the hatch.
 
They’re colorful, too—you can find them in 22 colors, ranging from teal to platinum. I eat them in specific patterns: all the browns, then oranges, then yellows, so I can savor the bright colors, which I love the best.

Government Affairs Counsel Clare Irvine, Esq.

The one candy I actually buy in a large bag is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—and it’s the only candy I can eat for a week without getting tired of the taste. Other treats may be good once in a while, but nothing will ever compare to these bites of somewhat sweet, slightly salty masterpieces. If I could simply hand you one through WonkaVision, I would win this debate instantly.
 
Reese’s tops all other candies because of its perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. Humans have five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory/umami. (We tend to like sweet foods because the taste signals calories or energy, which we need. However, our bodies also need salt every day to function.) Consequently, we have evolved to enjoy the two flavors together in the form of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
  
Other candies lack the complex, perfectly balanced flavors that make Reese’s such an enjoyable treat. Essentially, Candy Corn is just high-fructose corn syrup, sugar and food coloring. The sweetness allows us to enjoy the first bite but we quickly grow tired of the overwhelming, one-note taste.  
 
Kit Kat tones down the sweetness with the wafer, adding a textural change, but not much flavor. M&M’s add extra sugar to milk chocolate. I’ll nibble on them if they’re in front of me, but there is a reason they are running around adding new flavors to the middle of these treats without much success. Snickers are similar. They add more flavors, but they do not strike the balance of greatness. 


Simply, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a complex symphony of tastes with the perfect texture, scientifically superior to other candy. People may claim they prefer another candy for Halloween but, by Nov. 1, they will have eaten all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in their variety packs and get stuck with four unwanted, untouched bags of Candy Corn.

Government & Industry Affairs Director Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.

To truly discover the superior candy, I think we need to remove emotion from the equation. It’s great that you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but is that enough for it to be the best candy? The solution is to inject a little science into the conversation.
 
I propose that we conduct a science experiment with our survey choices. I will ask a series of scientific questions. Anytime one of the choices does not answer that question, it will be eliminated. By this method, we will discover which is truly—and scientifically—the best candy. Onto the science!
  
Which of our choices is actually a candy?

  1. Kit Kat
  2. M&M’s
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Candy Corn
  5. Snickers
  6. Toothbrushes

Sorry, Dan. Yes, toothbrushes have many uses (cleaning hairbrushes?) But, being candy is definitively not one of those uses. Thus, toothbrushes are eliminated. 

Which of the choices is chocolate and, thus, superior to all other candies?

  1. Kit Kat
  2. M&M’s
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Candy Corn
  5. Snickers 

Sorry, Kat. Candy Corn is eliminated because it’s not chocolate (nor is it corn!), so it is, by definition, inferior to the other nontoothbrush choices.

Which of our choices has both chocolate and peanuts/peanut butter?

  1. Kit Kat
  2. M&M’s
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Snickers 

M&M’s (the peanut-butter kind), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers all have peanut butter or peanuts in them. What do Kit Kats have in them? Wafers—a food that becomes edible only when covered with chocolate. When was the last time you ate a wafer that wasn’t covered in chocolate? Sure, Kit Kat has a catchy jingle. But do you know what else is catchy?

Which of our choices has caramel, the next best partner to chocolate?

  1. M&M’s
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Snickers 

Sorry, Clare. Reese’s are absolutely delicious, but do you know why its name isn’t Reese’s Peanut Butter and Caramel Cups? Because there is no caramel in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 

Which of our choices contains nougat?

  1. M&M’s
  2. Snickers

Down goes M&M’s! They only lasted so long because they have so many varieties. But, you know what variety they don’t have? Nougat. There is no such thing as nougat M&M’s. Do I know what nougat is? Absolutely not. But I do know that M&M’s doesn’t have it. 

So, there you have it! Snickers is the superior candy, as determined by SCIENCE! Really, this just makes sense. Snickers appeals to the chocolate lover, the peanut lover, the caramel lover and the nougat lover. It’s like four candies in one. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of candies. Long live Snickers, long live science!

About the author…

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., joined PIA as government affairs counsel for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2012 and then, after a four-month leave, he returned to the association in 2018 as director of government & industry affairs responsible for all legal, government relations and insurance industry liaison programs for the five state associations. Prior to PIA, Brad worked as an attorney for Steven J. Baum PC, in Amherst, and as an associate attorney for the law office of James Morris in Buffalo. He also spent time serving as senior manager of government affairs as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a chamber of commerce serving the Buffalo, N.Y., region, his hometown. He received his juris doctorate from Buffalo Law School and his Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from Utica College, Utica, N.Y. Brad is an active Mason and Shriner.

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