Each Halloween, the one thing everyone can count on are giant piles of candy greeting, luring and taunting them as they walk into the grocery store.
But is there a best Halloween candy in 2018, with its flood of new flavors, textures and types promising to keep us all wired for days after the Wednesday holiday? How does one even pick between Peep’s Spooky Cats or Reese’s Spooky Eyeballs?
Turns out, Gainesville shoppers tend to keep it classic for Halloween, according to Emily Wiley of J&J Foods and daughter of store owner Darrell Wiley.
“Anything chocolate, like Reese’s and Snickers, is popular,” she said.
The way to go, though, is with the bags of assorted candy. That’s her favorite and what seems to be customer’s favorite, too. That way, “kids can find the perfect thing they like.” The most popular is the bag filled with different chocolate candies, but the non-chocolate bag is also popular.
People go for variety — so long as that variety doesn’t include those miniature granola bars.
As she looked at the 16 feet worth of candy at the front of the store, the items that needed restocking were Reese’s, Snickers and M&M’s. But there are definitely some candies that aren’t as popular, she said.
“Some of the unpopular ones are some of the old-timey candies,” Wiley said. “Or anybody that’s trying to go a healthy route, like if it says sugar-free or gluten-free.
“Anything healthy is not Halloween candy.”
The most popular candy in Georgia is Jolly Rancher. After Swedish Fish won most popular the past couple of years, Jolly Rancher took over the top spot with 142,000 pounds — or just a bit lighter than the space shuttle Endeavor — sold over the past 11 years.
The nation’s most popular are Skittles, M&M’s and Snickers.
“If you had told me to list 20 things, Jolly Ranchers wouldn’t have been one of them,” Wiley said.
Candy corn is another popular item Wiley sells at J&J. Although she’s not sure how many customers purchase it to actually eat it, she said they sell “a ton of candy corn.”
She said a lot of it ends up as decoration — or maybe it goes to Alabama, where it’s the most popular Halloween candy.
While the J&J family has had years of practice stocking for Halloween, each year is a bit of a surprise.
Wiley said it’s always a guessing game since the candy is sold throughout the entire season. Early on, it’s picked up for school festivals and church events. During the middle of the season, customers are stocking up and preparing for trick-or-treaters. Then there’s the last-minute shoppers who don’t but candy until the day before or the day of Halloween. Regardless, Wiley said J&J always has candy ready for its customers.
And one thing is for sure whether it’s Halloween or not: Chocolate sells no matter what.
“We sell a little bit of non-chocolate, but it’s mostly chocolate, really,” Wiley said.