Candy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Probably because it's almost Easter, I just received an email about a brand of candy called Peeps. Honestly, I had to google it. Never heard of it. But it seems to be a big deal. Very big seller.

Photo of Peeps candy on Greg Tamblyn's Humor Blog

Amazingly, somehow it also appears to be almost universally reviled.

        * Maybe you've tried it.  Did you like it?  Spit it out?  Fall on the ground gagging?

        **  If you tried it, please leave a comment below.

Anyway, Peeps got me thinking about candy in general: The good. The bad. The ugly.

For much of my life I've been a big sugar addict. (Guess what? Most people are!)

Growing up, we lived two blocks from a drugstore with a huge candy counter. I still remember the sheer joy of learning as a toddler that if I found a penny on the street I could take it to the drugstore and get a fix. Lots of choices back then for a penny. The hard part was choosing.

My favorite grandmother was my favorite because she fed my addiction. Every Sunday she would pick us kids up for church. After an hour of Sunday School designed to quash all questions about anything interesting (heaven, miracles, leprosy), she would take us across the street to that same drugstore. She'd let us spend about as much of her money as we wanted on candy and comics. I cringe to think how much candy you could by for 25 cents back then. So we came, we bought, we coated our teeth with sugar.

        * Got the mercury fillings to prove it.

I've spent decades trying to kick the habit, and mostly been successful. I don't eat candy anymore. Really. Almost never. I honestly can't recall the last time. Unless you count the occasional, high cocoa content, sugar free dark chocolate.

So What Are The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly?

The Good

For me, it was always the chewy stuff. Caramels, tootsie rolls, milk duds, slo-pokes, jelly beans, hot tamales, anything with nougat, and any kind of gum. (Preferably several pieces at once.).

Rarely did I get offered any expensive candy, like Russell Stover's. But if I did, I wanted the caramel. 

        * Russell Stover Candy is still based here in Kansas City.

        ** The Stover mansion was the biggest house in the most expensive neighborhood in town.

        *** There's a lot of money in sugar.

The Bad

I just didn't care much for hard candy. The occasional jawbreaker maybe, but only if there was nothing else. And I didn't like milk chocolate. I didn't understand why back then, but it always gives me a queasy gut, even now. So I was never really into any M&Ms, Snickers, or any of the Mars stuff. Although any candy bar with coconut was worthy of consideration.

The Ugly

There are certain candies I not only never liked, I couldn't imagine eating them if I was starving. Not even if I needed a fix in the worst way. And in my mind, these would have been the worst way. I couldn't believe anybody thought they were edible.

So here's my list of the absolute worst candy, in no particular order:

  • Goo Goo Clusters (didn't learn about these till I moved to Nashville)
  • Cherry Mash (my best friend's favorite - arrrgh)
  • Twinkies (an abomination, too sweet even for me)
  • Horehound drops (my grandpa's favorite)
  • Circus Peanuts (who ever thought of these?)
  • Peeps? (Never tried 'em)
  • Trader Joe's Chocolate Caramel Yolkies (honestly could not bring myself to even taste it)

Picture of Trader Joe's Chocolate Caramel Yolkies candy on Greg Tamblyn's Humor Blog

Now this is my list. It's okay with me if it's not your list. It's a short list because I can't remember all of them. So please help me out and leave your choices in the comment box. Let's see if we can get a consensus on the 5 or 10 best and worst of all time.

And if you're looking for some really good sugar-free chocolate, I recommend my friend Mary Jo Kringas' ChocoPerfection. My favorite is the dark mint, but they're all good. Just click the pic.

Photo of ChocoPerfection chocolate bars on Greg Tamblyn's Humor Blog

© 2021 Greg Tamblyn

17 comments

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Grass Valley, CA
    The absolute worst: candy corn. I’m also not a fan of marshmallows in any form. Peeps fall into this category, but there’s a matter of degree. I would make a meal out of a bag of marshmallows before I would allow even a whisper of one of the Peeps abominations to touch my lips. And candy corn is still worse.

    The absolute worst: candy corn.

    I’m also not a fan of marshmallows in any form. Peeps fall into this category, but there’s a matter of degree. I would make a meal out of a bag of marshmallows before I would allow even a whisper of one of the Peeps abominations to touch my lips.

    And candy corn is still worse.

  • John
    John Dunne
    Hi Greg, I loved them at the time but looking back "Sweet Cigarettes" or "Candy Cigarettes" over your side of the world have to be BAD!! Over this side of the water they were branded with various football (soccer) clubs and players to make them irresitable to us 6 and 7 year olds back in the 1970s! We thought we were as cool as the cowboys in the movies with our fake cigs. Nowadays they would call the child care services! Strange times. Great to see you are tackling the big global issues! Keep it up and see you in The Highlands tossing your caber in October. John, Dublin, Ireland.

    Hi Greg, I loved them at the time but looking back "Sweet Cigarettes" or "Candy Cigarettes" over your side of the world have to be BAD!! Over this side of the water they were branded with various football (soccer) clubs and players to make them irresitable to us 6 and 7 year olds back in the 1970s! We thought we were as cool as the cowboys in the movies with our fake cigs. Nowadays they would call the child care services! Strange times. Great to see you are tackling the big global issues! Keep it up and see you in The Highlands tossing your caber in October. John, Dublin, Ireland.

  • Linda J
    Linda J San Diego
    ...I got some Peeps in an Easter basket this year! They are sugar granules with a yellow color and a chocolate base...tried one and went "Yuck" - then savored the other 2 at a later time:) :) I too had a sugar addiction...hopefully, 3 peeps won't propel me back! The worst candy ever: black licorice. I am a big fan of ChocoPerfection bars now! :) ...because even now, I LOVE dark chocolate!

    ...I got some Peeps in an Easter basket this year! They are sugar granules with a yellow color and a chocolate base...tried one and went "Yuck" - then savored the other 2 at a later timesmile smile I too had a sugar addiction...hopefully, 3 peeps won't propel me back! The worst candy ever: black licorice.
    I am a big fan of ChocoPerfection bars now! smile ...because even now, I LOVE dark chocolate!

  • Lori Keegan
    Lori Keegan T-Towne :D
    Yes, peeps and black licorice are nasty. That "root beer" hard candy is FAR worse! (no where close to root beer). And remember those tiny wax pop bottles with a few drops of the mystery liquid in them? What were they REALLY about? Clueless there. If you could've ended up chewing them like gum, they would've crossed over the "worthless" threshold into salvageable---haha. Looking back, I think they must have been the saving grace for anyone wearing braces that hurt like *#LL!

    Yes, peeps and black licorice are nasty. That "root beer" hard candy is FAR worse! (no where close to root beer). And remember those tiny wax pop bottles with a few drops of the mystery liquid in them? What were they REALLY about? Clueless there. If you could've ended up chewing them like gum, they would've crossed over the "worthless" threshold into salvageable---haha. Looking back, I think they must have been the saving grace for anyone wearing braces that hurt like *#LL!

  • Greg Benedetto
    Greg Benedetto Cottonwood, AZ
    It seems to me our perspective as a child and now looking back are two different kettles of corn. As a child, just about anything was great, except with coconut. I ate any chocolate, any licorice, any cream, nut, or fruit filled candy. Now, it HAS to be Dark Chocolate, Black Licorice, NO cream or nougat. Must be pure good quality dark chocolate. The worst? Candy Corn, Peeps, and all White Chocolate. Overall, it's all too sweet - how in the name of Dental Floss did we eat all that crap???

    It seems to me our perspective as a child and now looking back are two different kettles of corn.
    As a child, just about anything was great, except with coconut. I ate any chocolate, any licorice, any cream, nut, or fruit filled candy. Now, it HAS to be Dark Chocolate, Black Licorice, NO cream or nougat. Must be pure good quality dark chocolate. The worst? Candy Corn, Peeps, and all White Chocolate.
    Overall, it's all too sweet - how in the name of Dental Floss did we eat all that crap???

  • Cindy
    Cindy Virginia
    Cadbury Creme Eggs are disgusting because they are filled with an intensely sweet white goo and runny yellowish stuff. It looks like raw egg yolk and egg white. Yuck! I have never seen the Trader Joe’s Yolkies until you posted the photo. Why would anyone think candy should in any way resemble raw eggs?

    Cadbury Creme Eggs are disgusting because they are filled with an intensely sweet white goo and runny yellowish stuff. It looks like raw egg yolk and egg white. Yuck! I have never seen the Trader Joe’s Yolkies until you posted the photo. Why would anyone think candy should in any way resemble raw eggs?

  • Val 24
    Val 24 Reno, Nevada
    Best = Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (I'm patiently waiting for a vegan version, made without Greg's dreaded MILK chocolate) Worst = Raisinets (not only do raisins ruin a perfectly good oatmeal cookie, but they make a ghastly "candy")

    Best = Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (I'm patiently waiting for a vegan version, made without Greg's dreaded MILK chocolate)
    Worst = Raisinets (not only do raisins ruin a perfectly good oatmeal cookie, but they make a ghastly "candy")

  • David
    David My Boat
    Hey Greg. Orange slices were my grandfather's favorite. Candy corn and licorice are also pretty bad. Had forgotten about the candy cigs and wax bottles. Definitely a chocolate person now, darker the better. TJ's chocolate truffles are pretty high on the list.

    Hey Greg. Orange slices were my grandfather's favorite. Candy corn and licorice are also pretty bad. Had forgotten about the candy cigs and wax bottles. Definitely a chocolate person now, darker the better. TJ's chocolate truffles are pretty high on the list.

  • Ed
    Ed FL
    Best was a Sugar Daddy. It had a caramel flavor and lasted hours!! I could suck on it all afternoon! It started out hard, then it became malleable in your mouth. You could also stretch it as long as your arm!

    Best was a Sugar Daddy. It had a caramel flavor and lasted hours!! I could suck on it all afternoon! It started out hard, then it became malleable in your mouth. You could also stretch it as long as your arm!

  • Lynn Escajeda
    Lynn Escajeda San Diego
    I still enjoy peeps. However, they have to ripen first. That entails opening the package for about 3 weeks until they are firm . I do not like them soft. I allow myself two to three Cadbury eggs during the season. As a child I liked jujubes however I rarelynot ate them because they could and did take take silver fillings out. I like chocolate chewy candies and do not care for soured candies. Now days it seems like dark chocolate with a little wine.

    I still enjoy peeps. However, they have to ripen first. That entails opening the package for about 3 weeks until they are firm . I do not like them soft. I allow myself two to three Cadbury eggs during the season. As a child I liked jujubes however I rarelynot ate them because they could and did take take silver fillings out. I like chocolate chewy candies and do not care for soured candies. Now days it seems like dark chocolate with a little wine.

  • Meryl Ann
    Meryl Ann Norfolk, VA
    Bad: Candy corn, Pixie Stix, those ones that explode in your mouth, Jujubes, Jelly beans (except the black ones), Twizzle sticks, rock candy, Necco wafers (but they are very good for gingerbread house roofs). Peeps are disgusting, but my girlfriend loves them - she microwaves them first until they explode. I’m not planning on researching this. Good: Black Jelly beans — when I was a kid I checked out all the candy bowls after Easter because the licorice ones were the only ones left over! Now I’ve discovered yummy Scotty Dogs. All other black licorice has wheat in it, so it's verbotten for me. When I was a kid I liked Zagnut, Turtles and Ice Cubes, although by the time I was ten I had discovered Van Houten chocolate bars, made in Holland back then, and once you’ve had imported chocolate, well, there’s no going back, even when you are ten. As far as I know, they are no longer available. But that’s ok, today I love Godiva chocolates in the boxed assortment. I especially love the dark chocolate covered caramels, but there's never one in those boxes that isn't fabulous, (and I HAVE done the research on that!) And you might as well have fabulous if you are going to indulge. With a name like “Go-Diva” it had to be perfection!

    Bad:
    Candy corn, Pixie Stix, those ones that explode in your mouth, Jujubes, Jelly beans (except the black ones), Twizzle sticks, rock candy, Necco wafers (but they are very good for gingerbread house roofs).
    Peeps are disgusting, but my girlfriend loves them - she microwaves them first until they explode. I’m not planning on researching this.

    Good:
    Black Jelly beans — when I was a kid I checked out all the candy bowls after Easter because the licorice ones were the only ones left over! Now I’ve discovered yummy Scotty Dogs. All other black licorice has wheat in it, so it's verbotten for me. When I was a kid I liked Zagnut, Turtles and Ice Cubes, although by the time I was ten I had discovered Van Houten chocolate bars, made in Holland back then, and once you’ve had imported chocolate, well, there’s no going back, even when you are ten. As far as I know, they are no longer available. But that’s ok, today I love Godiva chocolates in the boxed assortment. I especially love the dark chocolate covered caramels, but there's never one in those boxes that isn't fabulous, (and I HAVE done the research on that!) And you might as well have fabulous if you are going to indulge. With a name like “Go-Diva” it had to be perfection!

  • David
    David Napa
    As a kid: Milk Duds, Sugar Daddy's -- love that caramel. The melt-n-your mouth butter mints that old ladies always had on their coffee table. Hated anything licorice. Loved chocolate malted candy bars (TOM's ?). Pez was fun for a while. Sorry Val but raisons make anything better (almost). Now: See's Butterscotch Squares. Runner up's: See's Milk Caramels, Sanders Mint Patties, Really high-end corn candy (almost impossible to find). Excuse me Mr. Fun Guy: What was your name again?

    As a kid: Milk Duds, Sugar Daddy's -- love that caramel. The melt-n-your mouth butter mints that old ladies always had on their coffee table. Hated anything licorice. Loved chocolate malted candy bars (TOM's ?). Pez was fun for a while. Sorry Val but raisons make anything better (almost).
    Now: See's Butterscotch Squares. Runner up's: See's Milk Caramels, Sanders Mint Patties, Really high-end corn candy (almost impossible to find).
    Excuse me Mr. Fun Guy: What was your name again?

  • David
    David Napa
    Left off current fave: Lily's 70% Extra Dark Chocolate (no suger Stevia and erythritol sweetened.)

    Left off current fave: Lily's 70% Extra Dark Chocolate (no suger Stevia and erythritol sweetened.)

  • Shira
    Shira Visiting Boston
    Remember the bracelets and necklaces you could EAT? They were made of white and pink "beads" on a string, and you just bit them off and enjoyed the truly vile taste. It was worth it because it proved you were cool. Surely these rank among the worst. What's good? Vitamin CH--chocolate, the proof that God loves us. The higher the quality the better (75-100 % cacao, organic ,fair trade--you know the drill. Magnet on my best friends fridge: "I would give up chocolate, but I'm not a quitter."

    Remember the bracelets and necklaces you could EAT? They were made of white and pink "beads" on a string, and you just bit them off and enjoyed the truly vile taste. It was worth it because it proved you were cool. Surely these rank among the worst.
    What's good? Vitamin CH--chocolate, the proof that God loves us. The higher the quality the better (75-100 % cacao, organic ,fair trade--you know the drill. Magnet on my best friends fridge: "I would give up chocolate, but I'm not a quitter."

  • Joanne
    Joanne Ormond Beach, Fl.
    How about "Good & Plenty" and those horrible Tootsie Rolls! Reading all the above comments brought back so many memories of those horrible sweets we were brought up on. No wonder Dentists are so rich!!

    How about "Good & Plenty" and those horrible Tootsie Rolls! Reading all the above comments brought back so many memories of those horrible sweets we were brought up on. No wonder Dentists are so rich!!

  • Lynne Key
    Lynne Key Kerrville, Texas
    The only candy I remember liking and still do is anything with nuts--any kind of nuts. If it doesn't have nuts, I take a pass. Oops, except a few jelly beans which I call "grouch control pills".

    The only candy I remember liking and still do is anything with nuts--any kind of nuts. If it doesn't have nuts, I take a pass. Oops, except a few jelly beans which I call "grouch control pills".

  • John Frederick
    John Frederick Paris, France
    After reading the comments, now I’m hungry! Peeps are okay, but not my favorite. I’ll indulge in a Cadbury egg on occasion. Best candy for me is — anything chocolate! And you haven’t really lived until you’ve had a chocolat chaud here in Paris, preferably at Angelina. Ok! So it’s not a candy..... Worst candies? #5 Black licorice. #4Necco wafers. #3 Red Hot Dollars. #2 Those orange peanut thingy’s #1 Malted Milk Balls 🤢

    After reading the comments, now I’m hungry! Peeps are okay, but not my favorite. I’ll indulge in a Cadbury egg on occasion.
    Best candy for me is — anything chocolate!
    And you haven’t really lived until you’ve had a chocolat chaud here in Paris, preferably at Angelina.
    Ok! So it’s not a candy.....
    Worst candies?
    #5 Black licorice.
    #4Necco wafers.
    #3 Red Hot Dollars.
    #2 Those orange peanut thingy’s
    #1 Malted Milk Balls 🤢

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