It’s Halloween night. The goblins have been fed, the ghouls have been tricked and/or treated, and you’re feeling more like a good witch than a bad one.
Now the house is finally quiet, and…wait. What’s that sound? It’s a tiny voice, squeaking out of your kids’ Halloween basket, saying “Eat me! Eat me! The kids will never know!” Or maybe it’s from inside the extra bag of sweets you bought in case there was a run on your house by zombies or cast members from Game of Thrones. Just a little cheat tonight—and maybe another cheat each night until all the candy’s gone. What’s the harm?
Halloween may be for kids, but the calorie consequences are for you and me. Consider these numbers: Three miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups fill your belly with more sugar than a glazed doughnut; half a pack of Skittles has more sugar than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream Ice Cream; nine Twizzlers carry as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger.
That’s scary! And to find out exactly how scary, Eat This, Not That! took 52 of the country’s most popular candies into our Food Lab and analyzed the nutritionals for their snack size or fun size portions. Read on to see which of your childhood favorites are a trick, and which are recommended treats. And learn which other foods to avoid—and which to enjoy—thanks to Insanity trainer Shaun T, Maria Menounos, Padma Lakshmi and more in these 50 Best-Ever Weight Loss Secrets From Skinny People!
First… The Worst
When ranking the Worst Halloween Candies in America, Eat This, Not That! took a few factors into consideration: calorie count (anything with 70 calories or above scored low); fat count (some of these chocolates have more fat than a burger!); and ingredients (candies got points off for containing more artificial colors than others). Spooky!
Per 1 bar: 46 calories, 0.5 g fat, 6.3 g sugar
Here’s the basic formula for an Airhead: Sugar and filler carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors, and partially hydrogenated oils—the source of trans fats. Just three mini-bars have more sugar and calories than half a cup of Edy’s slow-churned mint chocolate chip ice cream!
Hot Tamales Snack Size
Per Snack Size bag, 7 pieces: 49 calories, 0 g fat, 8.8 g sugar
We’re pleased to report Hot Tamales are sweetened with all-natural pear juice from concentrate…but sad to say there’s less than 0.5% of it. The two main ingredients here are sugar and corn syrup, with modified food starch forming the hard shell. Meanwhile, the red color comes from Red 40, which Canadian researchers found to be contaminated with known carcinogens. And don’t be seduced by it’s “fat-free” claim—nearly every candy is! By the way, sometimes, fat isn’t bad: click here to discover the essential list of the 20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Weight Loss!
Now and Later Fun Size
Per 4 piece Fun Size serving: 53 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 g sugar
Made with the same ingredients as most U.S. fruity candies—sugar, vegetable oil, and artificial colors—these childhood favorites should be saved for way, way later despite their low-calorie count. Why? Because it’s taffy, one of the worst foods for your teeth.
Mr. Goodbar Snack Size
Per 1 piece: 66 calories, 4.3 g fat (2 g saturated), 5.6 g sugar
The nutritionals above are for just one bar. Triple them—per the serving size—and you’ll have more fat than a McDonald’s Hamburger with three little bites!
Per 3 pieces: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 11 g sugar
“Keep on Sucking.” Has there ever been a more appropriate tagline for a candy? These are just corn syrup and sugar, compacted with a bit of malic acid for tang. At least they take a while to suck, which will keep your kids away from the chocolates.
Milky Way Original Minis
Per two pieces: 72 calories, 2.8 g fat (1.6 g saturated fat), 9.6 g sugar
When aliens visit this Milky Way, they’ll be horrified to see it’s made of sugar, corn syrup, and sugar mixed with milk fat, vegetable fat (in the form of hydrogenated palm kernel oil) and artificial flavors. Instead, satisfy your craving with one of The 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss!
Almond Joy Snack Size
Per one Snack Size bar: 80 calories, 4.5 g fat (3 g saturated), 8 g sugar
Like soda, most mainstream candy bars are a combo of the same ingredients: corn syrup, milk chocolate, sugar, vegetable oils, sometimes nuts. Almond Joy and Mounds break the trend by adding coconut, which ups the fat content, big time.
Mounds Snack Size
Per one Snack Size bar: 80 calories, 4.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 7 g sugar
Like its sister Almond Joy, the Mounds has a high fat count thanks partly to the coconut—but with no almonds, you get more saturated fat, making it even worse.
Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
Per 3 pieces: 85 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 7 g sugar
Made with glucose syrup (derived from wheat or corn), sugar and milk—as well as a sugary humectant, a molecule to keep them moist—these candies aren’t the sweetest on the market. But they score low because you can down about 10 of these in the time it takes you to get through one Werther’s Hard Candy.
Dove Chocolate Mini Squares
Per two pieces: 88 calories, 5.6 g fat (3.2 saturated), 7.2 g sugar
Don’t be fooled by the marketing: Despite being touted as the “silky, smooth” alternative to other candies, this is a Mars product, just like M and Ms and Snickers. Filled with milkfat, the result is one of the fattiest candies on this list.
To easily burn off any of these candies—without spending hours in the gym—don’t miss this list of the essential 55 Best-Ever Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism—Fast!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins Snack Size
Per piece: 90 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 8 g sugar
This one should send your gimmick radar into the red zone. If it were flavored with pumpkin puree that would be one thing, but it’s not. It’s an oversized peanut butter cup shaped in a pumpkin-like mold.
Swedish Fish Treatsize
Per 9 pieces: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 14 g sugar
The next five entries have fewer calories than those before them but nearly double the sugar counts. That’s because they’re all made with at least two kinds of sugar. These foul fishies add carnauba wax, which is safe to eat but also used to polish cars.
Per one pop: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 13 g sugar
Grind down a bowl and a half of Fruity Pebbles and rub it on your teeth for 10 minutes—then chew a piece of sugar-filled gum until the flavor runs out. These blow—but at least it takes a while to eat, which means you won’t have two. Quick tricks like that are just one of the 25 Most Overlooked Ways to Lose Weight!
Brach’s Candy Corn
Per 9 pieces: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 14 g sugar
This seasonal favorite is proudly “made with real honey”—an ingredient that’s unfortunately wedged right between four other types of sugar (sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze and dextrose), gelatin (made from horse hooves), sesame oil (fattening) and artificial flavors and colors.
Skittles Fun Size
Per Fun Size Pack, about 8 pieces: 85 calories, 0.9 g fat (0.9 g saturated), 16 g sugar
Repeat after us: If it’s your waist you want to whittle, keep your fingers off the Skittles. Sugar, corn syrup and food dye—that’s all you’re getting from a package. If you don’t give your kids Fanta, don’t give them these. (Speaking of sodas, don’t miss our ultimate list of the Top 32 Sodas—Ranked!)
Sour Patch Kids Treat Size Packs
Per Treat Size Pack, about 8 pieces: 75 calories, 0 g fat, 13 g sugar
These little guys leave a sour taste in your mouth because of the citric and tartaric acids that coat them. They leave a sour taste in our mouth because the first three ingredients are sugar, sugar, and sugar—more sugar than a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut! For decadent fat-burners, don’t miss this list of the 25 Best Carbs That Uncover Your Abs!
Milk Maid Caramels
Per two pieces: 75 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 7.5 g sugar
Doesn’t Milk “Maid” sound a lot like Milk “Made”? But rest assured—they’re not the same. This candy contains a couple milk derivatives (whey and “lipolyzed butter fat”), but it hardly constitutes a dairy product. Plus, 90 percent of the fat is saturated. That’s bad news for your heart.
Andes Creme De Menthe Thins
Per 3 pieces: 75 calories, 4.9 g fat (4.1 g saturated), 8.2 g sugar
This is one of the worst candies in the supermarket. The first two ingredients are sugar and partially hydrogenated oil, and you’re getting as much saturated fat as you’ll find in a handful of french fries!
Heath Toffee Bar Snack Size
Per Snack Size bar: 77 calories, 4.6 g fat (2.3 g saturated), 8.7 g sugar
One of the more natural brands on the market—that richness you taste is pure dairy butter—is also one of the fattiest. In fact, each Snack Size bar as more fat than a McDonald’s Chicken Nugget…and zero protein!
Twix Caramel Cookie Fun Size
Per one piece: 80 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 8 g sugar
Switch to Tootsie Rolls and you’ll cut your calories by more than half and trim your total fat intake by a whopping 79 percent. (Better yet, treat yourself to some quality dark chocolate.)
Snickers Fun Size
Per Fun Size bar: 80 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 8.5 g sugar
Snickers is an American classic in the worst sense: It’s made from cheap “chocolate” (artificially flavored), corn syrup and sugars and fatty oils, just like so many brands in kids’ Halloween bags. Sure, it has heart-healthy peanuts and a hilarious marketing campaign, but the only one left snickering is Mars, for selling them to you.
Baby Ruth Fun Size
Per Fun Size Bar: 83 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 10 g sugar
Together, saturated fat and sugar account for more than half of the calories in this baby.
Junior Mints Snack Size
Per single Snack Size box: 76.5 calories, 1.35 g fat (1.13 g saturated), 14.4 g sugar
Junior Mints are hard to resist because they’re poppable—just ask Jerry and Kramer. What you’re popping, though, is an alarming amount of calories and sugar for such a tiny treat—as much sugar as in three Chips Ahoy! Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Twizzlers Individually Wrapped Twists
Per 2 single pieces: 80 calories, 0.2 g fat, 9.5 g sugar
These candy straws are an Atkins nightmare: They’re made with white flour, sugar, and cornstarch, but sold as a “low-fat” food. Twisted.
Starburst Original Fruit Chews Fun Size
Per Fun Size serving, 4 pieces: 80 calories, 1.25 g fat (1.15 g saturated), 11.5 g sugar
The firmness of the chew owes to the third ingredient (after corn syrup and sugar): Hydrogenated palm kernel oil, a greasy substance that adds to the fat count. But the sugar alone will do you in—Starburst has more than any other candy on this list.
Mike & Ike Snack Packs
Per Snack Pack: 80 calories, 0 g fat, 14 g sugar
Tell Mike and Ike to take a hike. The high-flavor Jelly Belly beans pack a much lower sugar punch, and these have more sugar than half a cup of Turkey Hill light recipe Moose Tracks. To burn that off, you’d need these 33 Ways to Flatten Your Belly—Fast!!
M&Ms Peanut Fun Size
Per one Fun Size package: 90 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 9 g sugar
Wait a minute, you might be saying—aren’t peanuts good for me? Not when they’re wearing a spooky costume of fat and sugar. You can satisfy your desire for chocolately crunch, and save sugar, fat, and calories, with the pretzel version. The salty-sweet combo will also make them more satisfying. (If you’re genuinely hungry, turn to one of the 50 Best Snack Foods in America rather than filling up on candy.)
Nestle 100 Grand Fun Size
95 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 11 g sugar
You’d go broke trying to figure out how to eat these and stay slim. Each tiny bar has as much sugar as a bowl of Frosted Flakes.
Milk Chocolate M&Ms
Per one Fun Size package: 95 calories, 3.5 g fat (2.25 saturated fat), 13 g sugar
M&M’s pack in a lot of sugar even by candy-bar standards. This little bag packs in more sweetness than a Little Debbie Chocolate Marshmallow Pie!
Butterfinger Fun Size
Per single Fun Size bar: 100 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 10 g sugar
Many candy bars are high in sugar. Many are high in fat. But Butterfinger has the magical ability to be high in both. Adding even one “fun size” Butterfinger to your food intake every day is enough to add more than 10 pounds to your body in the next year. There’s nothing fun about that. Nobody better lay a finger on this Butterfinger.
Hershey’s Take 5 Snack Size
Per Snack Size bar: 100 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 9 g sugar
Were it made naturally, we’d be fans of this five-layer bar, which combines chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, caramel, and peanuts. Unfortunately, it’s more like a Take 35, with other ingredients including High Fructose Corn Syrup, fattening vegetable oils, artificial flavors, and the binding agent carrageenan, made from seaweed. This is one of the fattiest candy bars in the world.
And the #1 Worst Halloween Candy Is… Reese’s Miniatures
Per 3 pieces: 108 calories, 6.4 g fat (2.2 g saturated fat), 9.9 g sugar
The American Heart Association says an adult woman should have no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day. Reese’s manages to pack half that much (17 grams) into 9—aka one serving—of these miniatures, and with a ton of fat. Maybe they should be called “maxiatures?” Meet the Worst Halloween Candy out there. For more shocking calorie bombs you’re probably eating, click here for the 20 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet!
And Now… The Best
Or best of the worst. No candy here is “good for you,” since all are made with sugar and oils. But we calculated how much sugar and favored the brands with less. We also considered the ingredients—the more natural, the better.
Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
Per 1 cup: 80 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 5 g sugar
Unreal—a company on a mission to recreate junk foods with less sugar and more taste—is Eat This, Not That! approved all the way, and you can order specialty bags and buckets of Halloween candy on their website. We like these cups because they’re made with real-deal dark chocolate, an ingredient proven to lead to weight loss. And to blast even more belly fat, pair the cup with a cup of tea. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells). The tea’s combination of caffeine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) seems to set fat cells up for defeat. We at Eat This, Not That! love tea so much, we made it part of our bestselling new diet plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost 10 pounds in one week!
Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Per 1 piece: 70 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 6 g sugar
The hipsters of Portland and Williamsburg will be handing this out October 31st—and we hope you can afford to, also. Justin’s is devoted to sustainable, organic ingredients, and these cups are made with dark chocolate, peanuts, cane sugar and other ingredients you can easily pronounce. Mini size, big impact.
Reese’s Pieces Snack Size
Per pouch: 70 calories, 3 g fat (3 g saturated), 7 g sugar
E.T. had a pot-belly, but it wasn’t because of these: The Snack Size portion of Reese’s Pieces has a low-low 7 grams of sugar, unheard of on planet Earth. (Good news for Jason Mantzoukas and the crew at @HDTGM.)
Toblerone Fun Size
Per Fun Size bar: 66 calories, 3.6 g fat (1 g saturated), 7.4 g sugar
This October, visit Arizona. There, Toblerone, originally from Switzerland, is the most popular candy given out on Halloween, according to data from product review site Influenster. Who knew the Southwest was so classy—or healthy? The airport staple is made mostly from all natural ingredients—like sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter and honey.
Per 3 pieces: 67 calories, 4 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 7.7 g sugar
We love the size of these foiled nuggets but we wouldn’t marry them: the fat count’s too high. Still, you get the satisfaction of opening three candies for the nutritional cost of just one Snickers. If you like bite-sized snacks, start losing weight for pennies a day thanks to these 30 Foods That Uncover Your Abs for $1—Ranked.
Nestle Crunch Fun Size
60 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated), 7 g sugar
Thank the crisped rice for the low calorie and sugar count. But don’t thank it too much: even the rice is made with sugar.
Per pop: 60 calories, 0 g fat, 10 g sugar
How many licks does it take to get to the center of one of these? A better question might be, how much exercise would you have to do to burn one off. (Answer: Five straight minutes of jumping jacks.)
Caramel Apple Pop
Per pop: 60 calories, 0.5 g fat, 10 g sugar
Marginally better than a Blow Pop, these seasonal sisters add heavy cream and skim milk to the mix, so there’s less sugar, and one of the lowest lollipop calorie counts. Warning: contains no actual apple.
Kit Kat Snack Size
Per one two-piece bar: 70 calories, 3.6 g fat (2.3 g saturated), 7 g sugar
Have a break, have a Kit Kat. The wafer core is light and porous, which saves you calories over the denser bars. And if you’re pairing them with a six-pack or bottle of wine on Halloween, you’ll need this list of The 25 Best Foods for a Hangover!
Per three pieces: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 9.5 g sugar
We’re not shocked that these little candies pack a lot of sugar. We’re shocked that some people think they taste like chocolate.
Werther’s Original Hard Candy
Per three pieces: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 10 g sugar
Hard candies make for longer-lasting treats with fewer calories.
Per single Fun Size bar: 63 calories, 2 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 10 g sugar
Light and airy, the 3 Musketeers benefits from no nougat or caramel filling, though it still has a lot of sugar. Speaking of childhood favorites, don’t miss this list of Every Fast Food French Fry—Ranked!
York Peppermint Pattie Snack Size
Per Snack Size patty: 60 calories, 1.25 g fat (.75 g saturated), 11 g sugar
Stick with Charlie Brown’s pal Peppermint Pattie and cut your calories by a third, compared to Junior Mints. (Thirty calories may not seem like a lot, but that’s enough to add more than 3 pounds of flab every year to your fine frame.)
M&Ms Pretzel Fun Size
Per Fun Size bag: 60 calories, 2 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 7 g sugar
The latest spin on M&Ms trounces everything else in the candy co.’s arsenal. The original milk chocolate core has been replaced with pretzel, which is low in calories by confectionary standards. As a result, you trade in a boatload of sugar for a satisfying cookie-like crunch.
Nerds Fun Size
50 calories, 0 g fat, 12 g sugar
These little putzes are made with sugar and wax. In any other survey, they’d be a “Not That!,” but in a list of best/worst Halloween candies, the fun-size Nerds are cool.
Per 2 pops: 50 calories, 0 g fat, 10 g sugar
Dum Dums might not be nutritional paragons, but they do have two noteworthy advantages over other candies here: 1. No heart-wrecking oils, and 2. They’re made from hard candy. That means they dissolve slowly on your tongue, letting you enjoy the sweetness over time. Cool Dum Dum Halloween trick: Wrap each in a white tissue, secure with a small rubber band, and have the kids draw faces on these “ghosts” to hand out to the neighborhood trick or treaters. Sucking on lollies is just one trick from this list of 30 Skinny Secrets from the World’s Sexiest Women!
Smarties Candy Rolls
One roll: 25 calories, 0 g fat, 6 g sugar
Use Smarties to quell a sweet tooth and you’ll likely be satisfied by the time you finish one roll. That’s not too bad considering that each one has only 25 calories.
Per straw: 9 calories, 0 g fat, 2.1 g sugar
This is pure sugar in a straw—but hey, at least the straws are thin.
And the #1 Halloween Candy Is…Jelly Belly Jelly Beans Mini Pack
35 calories, 0 g fat, 7 g sugar
Ironically, the candy brand that sounds the fattest may actually flatten your belly: At 4 calories each bean, they’re the slimmest way to enjoy cotton candy, toasted marshmallows, and strawberry shortcake. Jelly Belly uses real fruit purees to flavor these beans. It’s still candy in every sense, but it’s certainly the lesser of many sugar-loaded evils. And to lose weight fast, read these essential 40 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat!