Halloween looms and with it the annual candy-buying frenzy. While dieters stock up on candy they don't like so they won't be tempted by leftovers, the rest of us buy the stuff we DO like and hope that only one or two of those pesky little costumed punks comes a-knocking. (And even then, we smack their grabby hands if they dig too deep: "Hey, pal, you're only 5 years old. One Butterfinger for you!")
If you haven't bought your supply yet, the chart below might help you decide what kind of candy to pass out. We not only provide the history and calorie count for 10 brands, we also asked an expert to tell us what the candy you give out says about you. Steve Almond, the author of "Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America" (Harvest, 2005), e-mailed us his analysis of the personality types who might offer these tasty sweets to trick-or-treaters.
"There's something incredibly liberating about a holiday that encourages children to take candy from strangers," Almond writes of Halloween in his book. For some reason, Almond asked that we make clear that he is a "professional candyfreak, not a therapist." Well, that's good enough for us.
Almond's Candy-Giver Analysis
Three 3 Musketeers: Does well in groups but is somewhat pompous. Prone to fancy costumes and arcane weapons. Wears hats in public that are ill-advised.
History: Created in 1932 by Mars, the candy bar got its name because it originally had three pieces in one packet: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.
Calorie Count: The Fun Size (17 grams) has 71 calories.
Almond Joy: I'm going to put aside my aversion to coconut in praising these folks as happy-go-lucky.
History: Introduced in 1946 by the Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Co. in New Haven, Conn. It's a companion to the Mounds bar, which arrived in 1920.
Calorie Count: The snack size (19 grams) has 91 calories.
Butterfinger: Evasive, slippery, not necessarily to be trusted.
History: Invented in 1923 by the Curtiss Candy Co. of Chicago. The crunchy bar wrapped in chocolate is now made by Nestle.
Calorie Count: The Fun Size (21 grams) has 100 calories.
Good & Plenty: Optimistic, perhaps overly so. A little bit of Weimar energy. Strong advocate of gay rights; acquainted with the bitterness at the center of most lives.
History: The licorice candy was first produced in 1893 by the Quaker City Confectionery Co. in Philadelphia and is considered the oldest branded candy in the country.
Calorie Count: A serving of 33 pieces (39 grams) has 140 calories, or 4.2 calories per piece.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: Generous souls. Those who understand the salty in life, as well as the sweet.
History: Created by Harry Burnett Reese in the 1920s. Reese was a former dairy employee of Milton Hershey, founder of the Hershey Co. In 1963, the Reese candy company was sold to Hershey for $23.5 million.
Calorie Count: A one-cup package (17 grams) has 88 calories.
Snickers: Just going with the crowd, the safe candy choice, guaranteed to please the masses. Not ambitious, but dependable.
History: Created in 1930 by Mars, Snickers bars sold for a nickel. The Fun Size was introduced in 1968.
Calorie Count: The Fun Size (15 grams) has 72 calories.
Twix: Both brittle and supple in social situations; sort of trapped between personality types.
History: A Mars product, caramel-and-cookie Twix bars were created in the United Kingdom in 1967 but weren't sold in the United States until 1979.
Calorie Count: The Fun Size (15 grams) has 80 calories.
Twizzlers: Sickos. Truly demented. Plastic people living plastic lives.
History: The Twizzlers brand was introduced in 1929. The red licorice strips are manufactured by Y&S Candies, a company established in 1845 that is now a Hershey subsidiary.
Calorie Count: One package (70 grams) has 240 calories.
Bit-O-Honey: They have contradictory personalities, hoping to express generosity but also having the passive-aggressive desire to damage the fillings of trick-or-treaters.
History: The honey-flavored taffy was first manufactured in 1924 by the Schutter-Johnson Co. of Chicago. It is now made by Nestle.
Calorie Count: The snack size (7 grams) has 26 calories.