We had such a good time tasting all the weird delights that Target had to offer in its Valentine’s candy aisle that we had to get an early start on Halloween by checking out their offerings for that holiday. However, things didn’t go quite as well this time around. There’s a reason most Halloween candy is just a smaller version of normal candy. Fall flavors are kinda limited (so much pumpkin!) and attempts to make Halloween specific treats end up being a horrible trick on the consumer more often than not.
Since we simply can’t just eat candy, we decided to come up with a convoluted rating system. Yay? We searched out Halloween- and candy-related K-pop songs and videos and used them to help pass judgement. Think of it as a Halloween playlist recommendation and a list of candy you should probably avoid.
By the end of the night, we looked a lot like J-Hope in the “Fake Love” music video. We were drowning in candy, most of which we never wanted to eat again. But there were a few tasty treats mixed in.
STEPHANIE’S CANDY BAG
Starburst Spooky Beans
Halloween jelly beans are not a thing. I don’t care if Starburst slaps the word “spooky” in the name; jelly beans are not a classic Halloween treat. They belong in Easter baskets not trick-r-treat tubs. Also, isn’t it worse to only get two flavors? I like orange and grape fine, but more variety would be much appreciated when it comes to jelly beans. I guess, it makes for better portion control. The monotony is going to make you stop eating them more quickly. Starburst does make a good jelly bean, but I don’t want to be eating it in October.
Rating: “Witch” by Boyfriend. Like Boyfriend’s supernatural-themed MV, Starburst is trying to add chills and thrills where there really shouldn’t be. Both are better off sticking to light and fluffy. Plus, Boyfriend is generally about as saccharine as most candy.
This is super cute and only cost a buck. It’s a little mummy! What’s not to love? That being said, opening it up was definitely a letdown. There were only two tiny rolls of SweeTarts. Wah-wuh-waaaaaah. Taste-wise, they were SweeTarts. Standard but good. I guess the mummy tin is worth a dollar, but I expected slightly more candy. I’m not mad, just disappointed.
Rating: “She’s Gone” by G-Dragon. Like SweeTarts, any version of G-Dragon is going to be enjoyable, and it’s great to see him having some spooky fun in a hedge maze. But it’s also undeniable that there are better, more substantial ways to get your GD fix.
O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer
I managed to avoid pumpkin in my haul for the most part. The exception I made is for alcohol. Halloween is a party holiday, so this can’t be a completely sober taste test. O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer is a regional favorite, and it’s pretty easy to see why. It’s got a nice blend of spice, capturing that classic fall taste. Plus, the flavor isn’t over the top or too artificially pumpkin-y. It maintains its integrity as a solid beer and doesn’t turn into alcoholic pumpkin pie juice.
Rating: “Doom Dada” by TOP. It’s alcohol, and TOP once said wine was basically water. Plus, both offer a multi-faceted blend of atmospheric fun.
M&M’s Cookies & Screeem
Cookies and cream flavored M&M’s? Sign me right up! Slightly larger than regular M&M’s, these look appropriate for Halloween with their black candy coating. Some of them have white flecks but not all of them. Still, the aesthetic is working overall. Unfortunately, the taste test was a bust. Chocolate is the dominant flavor by far. The cream center affects the texture more than the taste. Ultimately, these are basically just M&M’s. Disappointing.
Rating: “Beautiful Liar” by VIXX LR. I was promised cookies and cream, and instead, I got slightly sweeter than normal M&M’s. This candy is a beautiful liar, just like Leo—I guess … I’m not really sure what’s happening in this video. Is Ravi a ghost? A demon? The world’s most annoying roommate? Who cares! More dramatic beach dancing and hugging, please!
Sour Patch Kids Zombie
I’m kinda thrown by these. Like the Starburst jelly beans, it’s simply regular Sour Patch Kids but with only two flavors: orange and grape, again. Who out there is asking for less variety? I like Sour Patch Kids a lot, so I enjoyed these. Grape isn’t a standard Sour Patch flavor, so it was nice to get to try it. But if these are supposed to be zombies, shouldn’t they throw green into the mix?
Rating: “Jackpot” by Block B. The music video is pretty much a Sour Patch Kids commercial. As crazy carnies, the group harasses a poor girl, but in the end, they just want to help her have a good time. Get it? First they’re sour, then they’re sweet. It’s spooky fun, but certainly not the best Block B, or Sour Patch, has to offer.
Haribo Ghostly Gummies
Haribo makes good gummies, and these are no exception. The shapes are appropriately spooky, so points for staying on theme. Taste-wise, they’re good but not standout. The package shows a red one, but I only got purple, orange and yellow. Is the image on the package a lie, or was mine just lacking? Disappointing either way.
Rating: “Jelly” by Hotshot. Technically, this is very accurate. These are gummies, aka jellies in Korea. Look, this rating system isn’t built on deep thought and nuance. Also like Hotshot, these are fine but a little forgettable.
Trolli Sour Brite Bats, Cats and Rats
Gummies are to Halloween what Star Wars is to Valentine’s Day—well, at least when it comes to our taste tests. I think I got four different varieties, which is fine because I like gummies but don’t eat them all that often anymore. Trolli sour worms were a childhood favorite, so I had high hopes for these. They didn’t disappoint. Sour gummies really are superior, and Trolli offers more flavors than Haribo in its Halloween offering. They even come with a fun trick. The package lists six flavors: lime, lemon, orange, grape, cherry and strawberry. But there are blue ones in the mix. What could they be? Spoiler alert: They are the strawberry ones. Blue strawberry, now I’ve seen everything.
Rating: “Jelly” by Jeon Soyeon. These are also gummies, so it’s still a perfectly correct rating. But the sourness and that weirdness with the blue ones being strawberry give them a slight edge over the Haribo. Just like this song has a slight edge over the Hotshot one in the form of E’Dawn putting gummy bears on a hot dog.
Caramel Apple Lollipop
I loved unicorn lollipops as a child. I always got them when I was on vacation; my parents were pretty restrictive about them during the rest of the year. Honestly, they were right. What was I thinking? Unicorn lollipops are huge and so ungainly to eat. You always end up awkwardly trying to suck the last bit off the soggy stick. It’s a whole gross, slobbery ordeal. That being said, this was good. The flavor was nice. I didn’t eat the whole thing, but can you honestly blame me?
Rating: “Married to the Music” by SHINee. It’s over the top with a fun Halloween flair. But like the party attended by the gentlemen of SHINee, this lollipop gets more hazardous the longer you stick with it. Maybe not accidental decapitation or setting your head on fire hazardous but hazardous nonetheless.
Kettle Corn Cotton Candy
I bought this, but I’m still having trouble believing it’s mass-produced and sold at Target. Mass-produced cotton candy is always a bad idea. It’s not going to be fluffy and melt in your mouth; plus, you know there’s some awful preservative included to give it a longer shelf life. Still, I bought this, and not only that, I ate it, too. Everything wrong with pre-packaged, store-bought cotton candy holds true. Plus, the kettle corn is a lie. The dominant flavor is artificial butter; think buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies. Butter isn’t even used to make kettle corn! It’s not the worst thing I ate during the taste test, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. Just eat popcorn.
Rating: “It Hurts” by 2NE1. Park Bom really likes corn, and I can’t imagine who else this would be for except someone who really likes corn. Also, Dara’s mass of spooky, witch hair looks kinda like cotton candy.
Anatomically Correct Heart Lollipop
What better way to spend Halloween than sucking on an anatomically correct heart? I was ready for this to be super gross. It looks kinda disgusting even outside of it being shaped like a vital organ. Surprisingly, the cherry flavor was palatable; dare I say, it was almost good. It wasn’t overly cloying, and the lollipop was actually enjoyable. Confession: I didn’t eat the whole thing, but I had eaten a lot of candy at this point. Plus, a sucker this size is a big time commitment.
Rating: “Voodoo Doll” by VIXX. It’s gross, but ultimately enjoyable and perfect for Halloween. Plus, Ravi plunges that needle/cane thing into his chest, essentially creating a heart lollipop. That’s a fun connection!
These were by far the most expensive thing in my candy basket. They look absolutely revolting, so I had high hopes. I realized belatedly that they’re packaged in an ice cube tray because you’re supposed to freeze them to use in drinks. No one is actually supposed to eat these. I mean, technically you can, but it’s not advised. These are awful. They don’t taste edible, and my body tried to reject the one I ate almost immediately. I gagged, and Amanda thought I might vomit. Fun! The next day, I got my brother and a friend to try these abominations (Amanda refused), and they thought they are possibly strawberry flavored. I mostly tasted salty acid, but artificial strawberry has never been my favorite, so maybe they’re right.
Rating: “Wolf” by EXO. Sure they’re festive, but like Kai with cornrows, annoying howling and Chanyeol trying to look tough in a stupid hat, these are the actual worst. Ugh.
AMANDA’S CANDY BAG
Hostess Caramel Apple Cupcakes
I started off my night with these, and nothing else came close to matching them. I expected a bland cake with a gross, gooey center, but I got a rich caramel filling in a moist caramel apple cake—what’s not to love?
Rating: “Paradise Lost” by Gain. Okay, these cupcakes aren’t sexy or serpentine. But apple’s the forbidden fruit, so that makes these snacks related to the song’s theme, right? And both are decadent and enjoyable, so there’s that too.
Hostess Pumpkin Spice Twinkies
Hostess didn’t knock it out of the park again with these holiday treats, but I was pleasantly surprised that the normally disgusting white filling actually tasted good, with a nice pumpkin spice flavor I couldn’t help but enjoy. If only they would do something about that bland yellow cake.
Rating: “Like OOH-AHH” by Twice. Like Twinkies, I don’t normally care for Twice, but this sound is more enjoyable than the rest of their title tracks. Plus, the video has zombies, and Woody Harrelson taught me that Twinkies are perfect for the zombie apocalypse.
Apple Pie Oreo
You see that the package says “Artificially Flavored” in big letters? They aren’t lying—that apple filling tastes super unnatural. However, though overly sweet, it’s unmistakably apple, and it’s not bad. Most importantly, it’s sandwiched between yummy graham crackers.
Rating: “Cookies” by Lee Hong Gi. Some things in this life are always enjoyable, like graham crackers and the powerful pipes of Lee Hong Gi. The song was a bit too cute, and I definitely prefer him as the frontman of FT Island (or as Jeremy in You’re Beautiful), but it’s still charming.
Cadbury Screme Eggs
I mean, it did make me want to scream, “Ew!” It has a sick slime green filling that I’m sure children will enjoy, but it just made the overly sweet taste even more disgusting. And the milk chocolate shell left no impression.
Rating: “Every Night” by EXID. I came close to spitting out that nasty green ooze.
Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Caramel Ghiradelli Squares and Lindt Pumpkin Spice Milk Caramel Truffles
I put these two together because I had similar reactions to both. I honestly expected these two to be the hands-down winners of the night, but sadly, they were underwhelming. I tend to prefer dark chocolate with my caramel, so the milk chocolate coatings were just okay for me. The big issue is the filling. Somehow in their attempts to add pumpkin spice flavors, they not only failed to bring the pumpkin spice, but also made the caramel less rich than usual. Though not bad and far from being the worst of the night, they were disappointing.
Rating: “Chococo” by Gugudan. Both of these chocolates were great ideas, but didn’t work out. Similarly, a song about chocolate is a great idea, but the final result is an annoying mess.
Candy-Ville Halloween Treat
A cute treat consisting of a marshmallow covered in chocolate, sprinkles and candy corn—I couldn’t resist. But then I remembered that I don’t usually care for marshmallows, and this marshmallow was especially weird. It surprisingly wasn’t stale, but something was off with this—probably whatever ingredient was in it to keep it from going stale. And though each fine on its own, all together, the toppings didn’t mesh. It was a gross disappointment that I couldn’t finish on my own, so I made Stephanie do it. She didn’t like it either. What a great friend!
Rating: “TT” by Twice. All the fun of Halloween is packed into this video, but I ultimately couldn’t finish watching it because a group of girls performing a dance inspired by an emoticon is just too sickeningly sweet. Maybe Stephanie will also finish this for me.
Chocolate Chip Cookie
I don’t know what company made it, but someone had the brilliant idea of putting a chocolate chip cookie inside a skull tin box. It tastes kinda like a Pepperidge Farm cookie, which is nice and chewy but certainly nothing special. Though the packaging doesn’t do much for me now, I’m sure I would’ve been pretty excited to receive this in my trick-r-treat bag as a child.
Rating: “Flower” by Xia. There’s a skull in this video, and that’s really the only similarity. And I guess the child’s joy when Xia pukes up blue ooze might be the same joy children would have when given this cookie. Mostly, I just wanted to use this opportunity to mention this insane video and ponder what it would be like if someone distilled its bizarre essence into a Halloween treat.
Werther’s Original Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels
Why can’t any of these candies get pumpkin spice right? This was the least successful attempt at pumpkin spice that I tasted tonight. I thought I was always happy with caramel, but whatever they did to try and infuse that pumpkin spice flavor made it taste strange. Probably the only bag of caramel I’ve ever met and not finished.
Rating: “Catallena” by Orange Caramel. If I may offer some advice: Werther’s, use Orange Caramel as an example of how you can infuse different flavors into your treats. Make it weird, make it wacky, make it such a novelty delight that you can’t help but smile.