Here’s a math problem for you: If the average adult has 32 teeth, and if this year to date I have gained six cavities and lost four wisdom teeth, how soon should all of my teeth be replaced with little red flags?
If you called my dentist out of concern for my oral health rather than answering the question, you’re correct. My hygiene is fine. It’s my habits that could be improved. And rather than improve them, I’ve chosen to write this power ranking of every gummy candy available at my favorite local grocer, Trader Joe’s.
Eating each of these extremely high-concept gummies is its own little adventure. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, all of them are weird. Here’s how they rank:
7. Tangy Turtles
These have the mouthfeel of asphalt and the toughness of a centuries-old Nylabone. Skip them unless you have chainsaws for teeth.
6. Fruit Jellies
Most of the gummies at TJ’s are shaped like fun animals, but the Fruit Jellies are square, like the people who eat them. Maybe it’s the muted pastels? Or the holier-than-thou natural fruit flavor? I can’t explain it; they taste like how Connecticut feels. I’ll probably bring some to your baby shower.
5. TIE: Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers and Seasonal Spooky Bats & Cats Sour Gummy Candies
I almost liked these ersatz Sour Patch Kids, but then I found out that there is spirulina in them and it threw off my whole day. I didn’t visit the Trader Joe’s gummy shelf to be tricked into eating a sea vegetable. It’s like going to a waterpark only to be given a quiz on the U.S. tax code. It’s like ordering chocolate fondue and being served a hard boiled egg. I did not ask for this!
4. Immune Support Elderberry Chews
These really make you say, “oh, that’s what elderberries taste like!” They are by far the best gummy in the moisturizer section and one of the better candies in the whole store. If you can outwit the child safety cap, go crazy (and by “crazy” I mean two per day for adults and children older than four).
3. Scandinavian Swimmers
Scandinavian Swimmers look and taste almost exactly like Swedish Fish, except if the fish were lobsters. This product combines three of my favorite things: marine life, modified cornstarch, and narrow evasion of copyright infringement.
2. (The Ghost of) Mango Fruit & Yogurt Gummy Candies
One of several hot, intimidating employees at the Trader Joe’s in Downtown Brooklyn informed me that these have been discontinued. That sucked to hear, because they were so tasty and a singular offering in the gummy space.
You can now buy them on Amazon for $14.99 a bag. I don’t have a super firm handle on what price gouging is but it might be this?
1. Gummy Tummy Penguins
The only penguins I’ll ever tell you to eat. The Gummy Tummies nail that bouncy, translucent Haribo texture. And their tummies are full of goo! It cracks me up; they’re like if Gushers took too much NyQuil and had a weird dream.
It’s also fun to think about how a penguin with goo in its tummy is now in the goo of MY tummy. These bring me endless delight. I hope you’ll buy them as a just-because gift for the person you love most.
Callie Holtermann is a news assistant at the New York Times.