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Who Will Win the Great Halloween Candy War?

The annual clash of sugary treats is upon us once again. Choose your champions wisely.

Dorothy Woodend 28 Oct

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

Tis the season of the great candy smackdown. All year, different confections have been training for their big moment, and lo, the night draws near. On All Hallows’ Eve, every treat will be dumped out in the middle of the gladiatorial ring, otherwise known as the living room carpet, and the UFCC (Ultimate Fighting Candy Challenge) will begin.

For those unaware of the rules of the UFCC, the simplest answer is: There are no rules. This is war, carnage, sweet madness for its own sake. So, get a ringside seat and prepare to be splashed with syrupy ropes of Red Die No. 9.

It’s parent against child, child versus child, parent on parent. No one is safe, least of all the candy. Champions will be devoured.

Like any good blood sport, part of the pleasure comes from not knowing who will win the battle. It’s anyone’s game at this point. Full-size chocolate bars have heft on their side, but licorice whips can well, whip you!

Certain contestants come out only once a year for this big event. Candy corn has been secretly training in an underground bunker in Hoboken, New Jersey, but on Halloween night it explodes like chickenpox in a Grade 5 classroom.

So, too, SweeTarts, safely out of sight 364 days of the year, but ready to rumble when the time is right.

In this brutal Thunderdome, many candies enter, but only one can reign supreme.

Who knew candy could be so violent, you ask? I knew.

Over the years, I’ve done many illegal things in the pursuit of the sweet stuff. Lying, cheating, stealing and yes, outright violence. If beating your younger brothers to a pulp counts, which I think it does.

582px version of CandyWar2DW.jpg
Illustration by Dorothy Woodend.

Candy crime starts early. I remember the bubbling chocolate delicious of Aero bars as a serious addiction in Grade 6. I stole money in order to feed the need for more, rifling through the bottom of my mother’s purse for loose change and then skulking off in agonized guilt to the corner store to score.

As the main candy showdown event of the year, the supremacy of Halloween is a relatively recent phenomena, dating back to the 1950s when evil corporations got involved and, like the Mafia, began to fix the night in favour (flavour?) of big profits.

In my youth, trick or treating was pretty a haphazard affair. Some people handed out things like toothbrushes or pennies. Pennies, for Christ’s sake! Even back then no one wanted those damn things.

The best you might hope for would be a crappy old apple, and you had to dunk your head in a tub of water in order to get it. For anyone who actually remembers trying to bob for apples as a child, the trick was to pin the apple against the bottom of the tub, sink your teeth into it and practically drown in the process. Fun!

As the convergence of candy and Halloween became inextricable linked, like a braided licorice whip, the older traditions fell away. But a dark side remained, and now takes the form of the great candy war. Despite cautionary tales — think the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel, constructed out of sugary stuff to lure the unwise and the unwary — the dangers of overconsumption have been lost or purposefully sidelined.

Like many things in this strange culture that we live in, excess has become the point. It’s not enough to have some candy: you must have mountains of the stuff. Herein the brutal conflict begins.

At the end of Halloween night, when the bulging pillowcases of loot get dumped, there are entire subspecies of candy that pop up. It’s like the b-movie classic The Warriors, a film in which different inner-city gangs with names like the Boppers, the Furies and the Lizzies do battle all night long. Can you dig it?

Before you can say Looking for Mr. Goodbar, gangs of Airheads, Goobers and Sour Patch Kids are at it, beating each other silly. These are the lightweights, the serious fighters come a bit later in the evening, when the chocolate bar bros go at it. Choose your champions wisely.

Kit Kats, Coffee Crisps and Mars bars are all fine contenders, but the real heavyweights have peanut butter on their side. Also, on their front and back and certain other regions. How the heck did that get there, one wonders. Don’t get distracted. Eye on the prize, otherwise you end up with those terrible waxy caramel-type things that no one wants. Also, remember: suckers are for suckers.

The old adage that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger goes double, even triple for candy, kids. So, call upon whatever famous fighting icon you need, Rocky Balboa, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and dig deep. Punch your mother in the face, grab as much as you can handle, and run to your room before she recovers enough to put you in a headlock.

Free candy is still free candy, after all.

And as the roaring bonfires of Halloween die down and the floor is covered with the discarded wrappers of the former combatants, it’s time to hang it up for another year. Or at least until Christmas, and then it’s back into fray once more, this time with candy canes, rum balls and eggnog. That stuff really will kill you.  [Tyee]

Read more: Food

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