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The number-crunching site pitted over 80 Halloween candies head-to-head and ranked every single one by win percentage.

Mike Pomranz
October 30, 2017

What is the best Halloween candy? Needless to say, we’ve all had our personal opinions on the subject since we first walked the streets as a skeleton, witch, or pumpkin when we were just a few years old. But objectively attempting to determine an answer based on the public’s sentiment is far trickier (and not or-treatier). You can look at sales data, but what candies are bought doesn’t necessarily directly correlate to what candies are people’s favorites. You could take a poll, but simply asking people to list their favorite candy can overlook some the intricacies of the wide array of candy choices that are out there.

So instead, the statistic-loving site FiveThirtyEight (most famous for its election polling) decided to take a more interesting approach: Writer Walt Hickey pitted over 80 different trick-or-treating staples against each other in a rotating head-to-head battle. People online were asked “Which would you prefer as a trick-or-treater?” and then presented with two randomly generated fun-size options. Before tallying his data, he received 269,000 votes from 8,371 different IP addresses. Here are your results:

Top 10 (with percentage of times it won its matchup)

1) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (84.2%)
2) Reese’s Miniatures (81.9)
3) Twix (81.6)
4) Kit Kat (76.8)     
5) Snickers (76.7)
6) Reese’s Pieces (73.4)
7) Milky Way (73.1)
8) Reese’s Stuffed With Pieces (72.9)
9) Peanut Butter M&M’s (71.5)
10) Butterfinger (70.7)

And Bottom 5

82) Super Bubble (27.3)       
83) Chiclets (24.5)
84) Boston Baked Beans (23.4)
85) Nik-L-Nip (22.4)
86) Good & Plenty (21.9)

“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and their spinoffs come out huge here, taking four of the top 10 spots and appearing pretty synonymous with the platonic ideal of Halloween candy,” Hickey wrote in his analysis. However, he also found himself wondering, “But what made some candies more desirable than others?”

He then went on to label different candies by their different attributes and see if he could crunch the numbers to determine which attributes most increased a candy’s chance at victory. What he found was that chocolate provided the most significant boost, causing a nearly 20 percent jump in win percentage. Candies that could be described as “fruit,” “peanuts & nuts” and “crispy” also saw a solid bump (around 10 percent each). Meanwhile, hard candies were the least desirable, with a nearly 5 percent lesser chance of winning compared to the other attributes.

But the one thing these rankings (you can see the full list here) don’t take into account: variety is the spice of life. Because the worst Halloween candy haul would be the one where every candy in your bag is the same. And every now and then you need a Good & Plenty to fully appreciate that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.