We love our children very much, mostly because we can dress them however we like. But sometimes, particularly on Halloween, we cannot or do not wish to give them the full sized candies their hearts desire. Which trick-or-treat-sized candies retain the most charms when shrunk from big to small?
This is a definitive trick-by-treat comparison, conducted with candies representing the four main candy food groups: Chocolates, Peanut Butters, Worse Chocolates, and Fruits. (Or: Mars, Hershey, Nestlé, and Wrigley.)
Variety Pack 1: Chocolates
SNICKERS® MINIATURES vs SNICKERS® 2 TO GO
Not since the violent birth of the universe has there been a volume of matter as densely compressed as that found inside the wrapper of the SNICKERS® MINIATURE. Imagine if we had the option to experience simultaneously, in a single moment, all the anxiety and surprise and terror and wonder and uncertainty about the presence of specific tree nuts that occur over the seven or so decades of a single human life. We could get the mayhem of existence out of the way early and then spend the rest of our lives trodding on familiar soil, amazed by nothing, but also sparing ourselves the ulcers of unpredictability. Give neighborhood children this choice by serving them SNICKERS® MINIATURES. They taste vaguely like chocolate.
In 2012, Mars announced that it would stop production on chocolate bars exceeding 250 calories, which marked the end of the reign of the mammoth “king size” bars, (including the 280 calorie SNICKERS® bar). Mars’ 2 TO GO line is the insane heir to that throne; each SNICKERS® 2 TO GO pack contains two separate, slightly smaller SNICKERS® bars (220 calories each). The numeral in the name is allegedly meant to indicate that one bar can be saved 4 later, though adults are not famous for walking around with half-full plastic SNICKERS® wrappers on their person. For whatever reason, the checkout line at my local drugstore offered SNICKERS® 2 TO GO exclusively, in lieu of the standard SNICKERS®. The ingredients are identical.
The larger bar was significantly softer and much more flavorful. Every layer—the caramel, the nut, the nougat, and, most faintly of all, the chocolate—had a distinct taste and texture that came together harmoniously when I chewed. When ground up with the teeth, the nut and nougat combined to form a sort of warm peanut butter paste, and I could not help but wonder why we even buy peanut butter when we can save money by just making it ourselves in our mouths with SNICKERS® 2 TO GO.
A side by side comparison revealed the source of many of the discrepancies between the two sizes: while both bars had approximately the same amount of chocolate, and nearly the same amount of caramel, the SNICKERS® MINIATURE had only a thin layer of fluffy nougat—about half as much as the larger bar. This blatant disregard for the precise ingredient ratio of the original SNICKERS® could explain not only why the SNICKERS® MINIATURE tasted like a hodgepodge of four tasteless ingredients (the absence of nougat made the chocolate overwhelming, and the peanut pieces were too small to be acknowledged), but also why chewing it was like biting into a piece of stale bubblegum.
SNICKERS® had more varying ingredients from big to small than any other candy sampled. (Most of the other ingredients listed were identical.) According to their official website, bite sized Snickers swap “PALM OIL” for “MILKFAT” and full-sized SNICKERS® contain a slightly higher percentage of lactose. Bite-sized SNICKERS® labels warn that the product “MAY CONTAIN ALMONDS.” Full-sized SNICKERS® cautiously open this warning up the entire “TREE NUTS” family. Perhaps a Brazil.
SNICKERS® MINIATURES; 1/10
SNICKERS® 2 TO GO 8/10
MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL MINIS vs MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL SINGLE
My first thought when biting into the MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL MINI was that it tasted like a slightly less good version of a regular MILKY WAY®. Still OK. Still something I would eat by the handful eight days before Halloween, and then have to go out and buy a new bag. The caramel was soft. The chocolate was cheap.
My first thought when biting into the MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL SINGLE was that it also tasted like a slightly less good version of a regular MILKY WAY®, which made me realize that perhaps I just don’t like MILKY WAYS® as much as I thought I did. The MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL SINGLE is definitely superior in taste to the miniature version, due to the presence of more caramel. But the little one isn’t bad. No other candy retained taste and texture so consistently from one size to another.
MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL MINIS: 8/10
MILKY WAY® ORIGINAL SINGLE: 8/10
3 MUSKETEERS® MINIS vs 3 MUSKETEERS® BAR
In case you are wondering, the “3” of the name does not refer to the ingredients, of which there are either two musketeers (milk chocolate; nougat) or approximately 15 musketeers (milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, skim milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin), sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil and/or palm oil, less than 2% - cocoa powder processed with alkali, salt, egg whites, artificial and natural flavors), depending on your interpretation, but rather to the fact that, when the candy first debuted in the 1930s, every package contained three separate chocolate bars: a vanilla, strawberry, and a chocolate. Today, 3 MUSKETEERS® branding is dominated by the dual themes of dieting (“45% less fat” than other chocolate bars) and gun violence, which makes these bars the perfect candy for kids.
The taste of a 3 MUSKETEERS of any size overwhelms, making it difficult to remember a time when you were not swirling a sickly sweet nougat sludge over your tongue, though surely such a time existed. While both the tastes and listed ingredients are identical, the regular-sized 3 MUSKETEERS® BAR was much chewier than the 3 MUSKETEERS® MINI. It had the texture of hardened Cool-Whip. It was chewier than any candy bar ever should be. The fluffy nougat interior of both bars was almost tasteless, except that tastelessness would have been an improvement over the bland sweetness that was faintly present.
The 3 MUSKETEERS® MINI is the superior candy only because its tiny size makes it likely you will consume less of it.
3 MUSKETEERS® MINIS: 1.5/10
3 MUSKETEERS® BAR: 1/10
TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Minis vs. TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Single Pack
The first thing to note about TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Minis is that they were by far the most underrepresented candy in my Mars variety pack, presumably due to their larger size. A clever child who recognized TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Minis for the lucrative trade opportunity that they are, would take any offered and stockpile them for post-trick-or-treat negotiations with friends. Except that a manipulative child with a natural propensity toward such strategy probably wouldn’t have many friends. At least he or she would have many, many TWIX®, which are so good.
While their interiors were essentially identical to the eye, the TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Mini suffered from the same increased density that seems to afflict the smaller varieties of so many candies. It lacked the pleasant softness of the bigger bars found in the TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Single Pack, and its caramel did not leak out with the same decadent slowness. The top chocolate coating of the larger bars was more rippled, for whatever reason.
TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Minis: 6/10
TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars Single Pack: 8/10
Variety Bag 2: Peanut Butters
REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups vs REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup
Please do not confuse REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups with REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures. Comparing REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures to REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups is like comparing the feeling of sunshine on your face while you lie in the grass to the number 16. No two things on Earth have ever been more different. Miniatures are bite-sized version of Reese’s wrapped in foil. Minis are unwrapped sort of REESE’S-shaped things, slightly larger than a chocolate chip. This round is about the minis.
In my REESE’s Halloween snack pack, REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups were packaged five per pouch. Inside the pouch, they are unwrapped, which gives the immediate impression of being unhygienic, even though most non-REESE’s candies do not contain wrappers within wrappers and the standard REESE’S black paper wrapper doesn’t even really do anything except create additional trash. Due to their small size, they melt very quickly. While I loved the ease with which I was able to stack them into a fetching whimsical sculpture, I hated the way they stained all my fingers with sticky chocolate, which, admittedly, may not have happened if I had not taken the time to stack them into a fetching whimsical sculpture. I put them all in my mouth at once, and they mostly just tasted like chocolate.
The REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, by contrast, boasted the throat-swelling salty sweetness we have come to expect from REESE’S of all stripes. While the ingredient lists were identical, chopping the candies in half revealed that the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter differed greatly between the two sizes: The Mini had a much thicker chocolate shell, to the detriment of its overall taste. We buy peanut butter cups for the peanut butter, not the cups.
If you choose your Halloween candy based on how easy it would be to perform life-saving surgery on it: the knife slid through the REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups much more easily than it did the standard REESE’s.
REESE’S Mini Peanut Butter Cups: 6/10 overall; 10/10 knifeplay
REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup: 8/10
Variety Bag 3: Worse Chocolates
NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® Fun Size vs. NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH®
BABY RUTHS® are the only traditional Halloween candy allegedly named for a dead child: President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth (who died of diphtheria at age 12, several years before the candy bar was invented). More probably, the candy was named after baseball player Babe Ruth, and the President Cleveland story concocted retroactively to avoid paying him royalties. This intersection of intellectual property law and childhood mortality is not the only thing kids have to dislike about NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® candies. There’s also: peanuts.
BABY RUTHS® are basically more grown-up SNICKERS®, with which they share their core properties: peanuts, nougat, caramel, and a chocolate shell. The NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® Fun Size tasted like a much peanuttier version of the regular SNICKERS® bar: sweet and chewy and peanutty. It felt substatial, like a meal.
The standard-sized NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® was crunchier, and boasted more and larger pieces of peanuts, but the taste of the bar was metallic, almost as if the nuts had been burnt slightly. I couldn’t believe that the little one tasted better, so I unwrapped another, and then another to be sure. Three NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® Fun Sizes and one case of adult-onset diabetes in, the difference in quality was undeniable: the Fun Sized bars are better.
NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH® Fun Size: 9/10
NESTLÉ® BABY RUTH®: 7/10
NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® Fun Size vs NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®
One thing I absolutely do not ever recommend trying to cut in half is a NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®. If you choose to do so—to prove you are a man, or because you have only one NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® and all these knives—prepare for the challenge of your life. Whereas equally crunchy Twix® bars cleave apart with a sudden, brutal crack, the interior of a NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® will simply splinter into a trillion golden slivers, ranging in texture from “jagged piece of glass bottle” to “flaky dust,” and exploding all over your computer keyboard.
The main difference between the two NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® varieties is apparent as soon as you open the packages: The Fun Size bars do not travel well. Every one I opened was coated with a fine layer of orange detritus. The standard size bars, by contrast, emerged from their wrapping pristine.
And yet, the Wretched Miracle of NESTLÉ® was manifested again in the BUTTERFINGERS®: the Fun Size variety had more and better flavor than the regular bar. The tastes of both were similar: a flash of quickly-melting chocolate giving way to a flavor that was more like a plain sugar wafer than the advertised peanut butter. Both clung to the teeth with a fervor that makes you remember to book a dentist appointment. The NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® Fun Size simply had a stronger presence.
It also smelled a little like papery fish food flakes.
NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER® Fun Size; 7/10
NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®: 6/10
NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Fun Size vs. NESTLÉ® CRUNCH®
NESTLÉ® markets the smaller version of a regular CRUNCH® bar using the industry standard term “fun size,” boldly suggesting that anything about a NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® bar might ever be associated with joy or a good time, despite the fact that NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® bars are made of rice.
If you’re going to give someone a rice-based treat, make it a Rice Krispie or top it off with a heaping helping of chili con carne. NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® bars are boring regardless of dimensions.
The crisped rice submerged in chocolate on the bottom of the bar forms an unappealing pattern reminiscent of cysts under the skin.
The NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Fun Size bar tastes like cheap chocolate made of bumps. Cutting one in half reveals that it is of an approximately equal thickness all the way around. The texture of the larger bar is somewhat improved, because it is bordered by two high chocolate ridges and thins out for a great expanse in the middle. The crispiness feels intentional in the NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® and like a horrible accident in the NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Fun Size.
NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Fun Size: 1/10
NESTLÉ® CRUNCH®: 4/10
Bag 4: Fruits
Original Skittles® Unit Not Labeled For Individual Sale vs. SKITTLES® Original Fruit Bite Size Candies Tear ‘N Share Size
The first mini bag of Original Skittles® Not Labeled For Individual Sale I opened looked like a bomb had gone off in it. There were chipped Skittles® and broken Skittles® and Skittles® that, if they had been humans, would have had to learn to walk and talk all over again even though they were adults. There was even a Skittles® horror the likes of which I had never seen in all my years of taking them as vitamins: a mushed brownish-purple Skittle® had leaked and fused to two red (BEST) Skittles®, binding itself not only to them, but to the plastic paper of the wrapper, rendering the trifecta inedible.
As with the SNICKERS® 2 TO GO, my drugstore offered no standard-sized incarnation of Skittles®, but rather seemed to stock exclusively SKITTLES® Original Fruit Bite Size Candies Tear ‘N Share Size. I opened the Tear ‘N Share bag at home, and out spilled an embarrassment of SKITTLES®, each one a bright perfect jewel. The problem was, they kept on spilling. My joy quickly turned to horror as they continued to pour out of the bag like maggots. There were at least 20,000 Skittles® (24 Skittles®) in the Tear ‘N Share bag. I was drowning.
Mangled candies aside, victory here goes to the Original Skittles® Unit Not Labeled For Individual Sale, owing to the fact that it supplies the perfect amount of skittles. It’s a shame it’s not labeled for individual sale.
Original Skittles® Unit Not Labeled For Individual Sale: 9/10
SKITTLES® Original Fruit Bite Size Candies Tear ‘N Share Size: 20,000/10
Starburst® Fun Size® Fruit Chews vs. Starburst® Original Fruit Chews
Fun Size® Starburst®, which come two to a pack, are the candy equivalent of penny slots. You might win big with a red and a pink. You might get two yellow, and then open another pack and get two more yellow, and then—third time’s the charm—open another packet and get two yellow again. The bigger pack represents responsible investment; the diversification of risk.
Also, Starburst, like potato chips, are not meant to be eaten in quantities of two. Fun Sized® Starburst are only appropriate to hand out if you give every child an entire bag, which would quickly grow expensive.
Starburst® Fun Size® Fruit Chews: 5/10
Starburst® Original Fruit Chews: 10/10
[Photos by Max Read / Art by Jim Cooke]