Butterfingers, Goobers, Milk Duds and Candy Corn… Which sweet will come out on top as the Stylist team taste test American chocolate and sweets for the very first time?
There are hundreds of different kind of candy and chocolate bars native to the US. Hundreds! And though some of them are familiar to UK readers, the bulk of them are weird and wonderfully new flavours that are foreign to so many Brits.
So, on a recent trip to the US, the Stylist team decided to buy as many different kinds of candy and chocolate bars as we could. We bought Twizzlers and Milk Duds, we bought Butterfingers and Candy Corn, we bought Swedish Fish galore, mountains of Mounds, a plethora of Goobers and an embarassment of Tootsie Rolls. We were like kids in a candy store. Quite literally.
Back in the UK, we charged our staff members to try some of the different varieties for the first time. What would they make of our David Attenborough-meets-Masterchef experiment? How would the Brits cope with a bag of Mike and Ike Original Fruits? What would they make of Hot Tamales and Paydays? Would they embrace a Hersheys bar?
The experiment had varied results. Some candy scored highly while others, perhaps controversially, crashed and burned. Behold, a definitive* ranking of the most popular American candy and chocolate bars. (*And by ‘definitive’, we mean entirely subjective.)
Mike and Ike Original Fruits
Tried by: Anna Fielding, associate editor
These were great, like jelly beans, but fruitier and less cloying and not bean-shaped. The strawberry flavour was a bit meh, but cherry, orange, lemon and lime were all absolute bangers. Then I ate too many and felt a bit sick. I thought I’d read about them, somewhere, before – maybe Judy Bloom, maybe Stephen King? - so I looked them up online. There seems to have been a whole marketing campaign where Mike and Ike broke up and got back together. I’m slightly confused as to if people knew they were together before they broke up – are they the US equivalent of the Gold Blend couple, or are they like a human Bert and Ernie? But the sweets are really tasty.
9/10 (They lose a point for the ‘meh’ strawberry ones)
Tried by: Kayleigh Dray, digital editor
I thought I’d lucked out with these, because everyone who’s ever had one before screeched “OH MY GOD, SWEDISH FISH ARE AH-MAZING!” when they saw what I’d been given. I assumed – wrongly – that these vivid red fish would pack some serious chemical-flavoured punch: the kind that makes your head pound, your tongue burn and your cheeks disappear into your face. Instead, I ended up chewing on a mild and insipid piece of Play Doh, which had been inexpertly moulded into the shape of a fish (albeit by someone who’d never seen a fish before, and was just working to a rough description). Not my scene at all. And, to be honest, none of the other bits of American candy I snaffled from other people in the office rocked my world, either. WHY CAN’T THE USA MAKE PROPER SWEETS? Jeez.
Tried by: Megan Murray, digital writer
I’d heard the name Candy Corns banded around before, on TV shows, films and the like – so I was expecting something good. But I’m absolutely baffled by their nothingness. They look weird, they taste like sugar that’s been sat on the shelf for too long, and I don’t really understand the appeal. That said, I did keep spooning them into my mouth until a colleague pretty much took them off me…
Tried by: Colin Crummy, contributing entertainment writer
Twizzlers have been around nearly a century and it shows. They are not quite chewy enough (made of corn syrup, flour and sugar, they sort of just fade away on the tongue), with a soapy strawberry flavour. I was hoping for a bit of an acidic twist that makes you go all squiggly emoji face, the way Tangtastics do. But I got no bite on any front. So it’s a sad face from me.
Tried by: Lucy Robson, SEO executive
Blue raspberry was most superior by far. Tangy and with a kick to it, it reminds me of the ice blasts that you used to get at the cinema when you were little, a treat you were more excited to get than seeing the film itself. Red cherry was quite bland and tasted really artificial (shock), didn’t have the kick I was waiting for, but maybe I was expecting sour cherry? Watermelon was the most vibrant colour green, I was excited to try for the e-numbers hit. This was the most disappointing, it tasted like the really watery watermelon you get sometimes. Nothing to write home about. White mystery – was most apprehensive about trying this mysterious flavour, what if it’s vomit flavour, like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans?? Thankfully it wasn’t, it actually tasted like candyfloss. Is it bad I’m a bit disappointed as I was expecting something more jazzy and ‘mysterious’? In general, they have a good texture and they aren’t horribly sticky or too chewy like some chewy bars
4/10 – because for me the only one I would be inclined to eat again would be blue raspberry
Juicy Drop Pop
Tried by: Holly Bullock, features intern
Despite looking strangely medical in its syringe-like packaging, I expect the Juicy Drop Pop would not be recommended, you know, health wise. It was fun for a while, don’t get me wrong. The lolly part, which you had to withdraw from the packaging like a little sword, was fine. It had a mild strawberry taste and was, to be honest, actually quite nice. But it was when I discovered the dual-ended design that it all started to go wrong. The idea is that you squeeze a lurid red, sour ‘gel’ onto the lolly and lick it off. Weird, but I went with it. I did the squeeze-lick manoeuvre for a while, but as the lolly got smaller, the gel started dribbling down onto my fingers - annoying. The question I kept asking myself was ‘why?’ I understand that you’re able to customise the sourness, but really, who’s actually got time for that much DIY? Please, Juicy Drop Pop, just put the sour in the lolly.
Kat Poole, Stylist Loves editor
“I love a tiny chocolate bar (I eat a Freddo a day), so I had set high hopes by the bitesize proportions of the Almond Joy. Plus, it literally has ‘joy’ in its name – what a tempting scenario! And yet. This is essentially a very small Bounty Bar with – quite inexplicably – a whole almond in the middle. If you like a soft nut surrounded by desiccated coconut and a very thin layer of nothing-like-Cadbury chocolate, then this is the snack for you.”
4/10 – Not, sadly, a joy.
Tried by: Lucy Partington, beauty editor
I’m a bit put off by the name of this, but once I got past that it was essentially just a dark chocolate Bounty. The coconut inside was quite sticky and slightly off-white which made me wonder how much sugar was in there, but it tasted good and the texture was actually quite nice.
8/10 - would eat again (and I did, I had three more bars)
Tried by: Meena Alexander, sub-editor
‘Crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery!’ screams the Butterfinger packaging. “Not real words,” I grumble to my colleagues as I rip it open and take a bite. But then the taste sensation hits – an intense roasted peanut flavour and enough sugar to keep me awake for the next three weeks. So I guess I’m a happy insomniac now. Inject this crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery ambrosia into my veins.
Tried by: Jenny Tregoning, deputy production editor & food editor
I don’t know why but I was expecting a cake bar – something like a Twinkie (gross) crossed with a Mini Roll (infinitely superior). Instead, I got a tiny pellet of hard, brown toffee wrapped in paper with branding that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1950s. This is one sad-looking candy. Initial disappointment aside, it was actually pretty tasty – not too sweet and more chocolatey-tasting than toffee, kind of like a Cadbury’s Éclair but, dare I say it, better.
Tried by: Gareth Watkins, contributing production editor
While the name suggests something really unappetising that the school bully at the back of math (no s) class might have hoiked at the nerds, these are surprisingly tasty. Essentially just a peanut covered in a haphazard fashion with milk chocolate, they sit somewhere between an M&M and a Poppet (if they came in peanut flavour). Like the Poppet they also come in a pleasingly proportioned box which stops them from melting. While not a revelation in the confectionary world, they could easily be rebranded for a UK audience – Goober is apparently slang for a kindhearted goofball – so buffoons perhaps? Twerps? We’ll workshop it.
A strong, but not ground-breaking 7/10
Tried by: Tom Gormer, photography & specials director
These are fruit flavored (sic) Gumdrops. And they are very GUMMY. Much MUCH softer than a classic wine gum or midget gem. Almost Playdoh-like. Five colours = five flavours. Ignore the lemon, lime, orange and strawberry and head straight for the cherry one. The cherry one WILL BLOW YOUR MIND as it doesn’t taste fruity. IT TASTES OF A CHERRY BAKEWELL TART. Who knew a cherry slash almondy marzipanny very soft gummy gum sweet even existed? MIND. BLOWN.
Tried by: Hollie Richardson, digital writer
These were like the US version of Poppets, except with tougher toffee and less tasty chocolate. I think they were the dud of the chocolate selection. But that didn’t stop me from chomping on a handful and nearly breaking my metal brace while sitting at my desk.
Hot Tamales – Fierce Cinnamon
Tried by: Megan Glynn, designer
How do I feel about this sweet? I wish I could sum up the unpleasantness in one word. The idea of having a sweet that blows your mouth up with fiery cinnamon absolutely baffles me. They start with a deceivingly nice outer coating that tricks you in to a false sense of security, but oh no my friend, do not be fooled. During your first bite you’re punched in the face with an overwhelming explosion of cinnamon and a dull heat that coats your entire mouth, face, ears and soul. Twenty minutes later, plenty of water and a cup of tea I can still taste the hint of lingering cinnamon. I am a massive sugar fiend and would eat a sour sweet any day but ‘get fired up’ fierce cinnamon candy? I’ll give it a miss thanks.
Munch peanut bar
Tried by: Amy Davies-Adams, production editor
Think of the crunchiest, sweetest peanut brittle and then throw in some more peanuts and sugar for good measure. That’s what this is, like Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut without the cornflakes. According to the packet the Munch bar is low GI, gluten free, contains no artificial ingredients and is two of your five a day. OK I made the last one up but still, how can something that leaves a light coating of brittle dust on your teeth long after the last bite be this virtuous? Who cares really, because what with all the nuts and all the sugar, it’s completely addictive.
Tried by: Sarah Biddlecombe, digital commissioning editor
It’s a stupid name – but it’s crispy and chewy, it’s salty and sweet, it’s wrapped in a layer of gooey caramel and chocolate… it’s basically everything you could ever want in a chocolate, sorry, candy bar. It stuck my teeth together and gave me a sugar high that lasted past home time, but it was well worth it.
Tried by: Regan Okay, social media manager
I can only describe this as something like a peanut butter Crunchie, (without the honeycomb) and therefore it is amazing and ten times better than the Crunchie, because Peanut Butter. I cannot believe during all of my (many) trips to America I have never noticed the 5th Avenue, but fear not because I will never overlook this wonderful piece of chocolate ever again. The only reason that I’m not giving this a full 10/10 is because the ultimate peanut butter/chocolate snack is of course Reese’s, but this comes pretty damn close.
Payday Peanut Caramel Bar
Tried by: Ava Welsing-Kitcher, junior beauty writer
This is basically a slab of expired crumbly “caramel” encrusted in peanuts with a salty aftertaste. It’s like a Bounce Ball, but more disgusting and not even pretending to be healthy. What’s the point?
Tried by: Felicity Thistlethwaite, executive digital editor
When’s a Milky Way not a Milky Way? When it’s a super-sized American adaptation wrapped in space age silver packaging. Almost too big to fit in my pocket, the sheer size of the 3 Musketeers bar is overwhelming. It is HUGE, but upon closer inspection Mars suggest there are two servings per pack. (Sure.) For those who are interested, the chocolate bar measures a whopping 20 cms. Fun fact: that’s the same length of my head. It tastes like a Mars Bar without the caramel, or a Milky Way on steroids. Unlike the aforementioned Milky Way, however, it’s actually chocolate flavoured nougat. I’m giving it a smooth 7/10 because a nibble on the edge gave me enough energy to power at least an hour of speed typing - who knows what would happen if I ate the entire whopper at once. Bottom line: Would eat again.
Hershey’s Mr Goodbar
Tried by: Helen Atkin, fashion assistant
If you like peanuts this is the bar for you, if you like chocolate, maybe less so. The ratio of chocolate to peanut was a little off for me. It felt like I was eating a bowl of peanuts rather than a chocolate bar.