strat investigates

What Is This Year’s Status Halloween Candy?

Photo: Warner Home Video

Halloween is fast approaching, which means that it’s time to prep your highly topical costume, hang some spooky decorations, and pick up some bags of candy for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Buying candy may seem the simplest of all preparations, but anyone who has trick-or-treated knows that what you give out can leave a lasting impression. Sure, you can swing by Duane Reade at 4 p.m. on the 31st — but is the possibility of answering the door with nothing more than Dum Dums really worth the risk? We think not. So we reached out to food writers and local parents who live in popular trick-or-treating neighborhoods to ask about the candy they’re using to stand out this Halloween. We also talked to some kids themselves about the candy they’re most excited to score. Read on for what they told us is shaping up to be the status candy of Halloween 2019.

This year’s status Halloween candy: Tony’s Chocolonely Bar

Tony's Chocolonely 32% Milk Chocolate Bar with Caramel and Sea Salt

Since the people you are really trying to impress with your status candy are trick-or-treating kids (and, in turn, their parents), we found it telling that our kid sources all agreed on one thing that separates status from standard candy: the size of the bars. Liz Gumbinner, publisher and editor-in-chief of Cool Mom Picks, says that her kids consider “full-size anything” a big Halloween score, and her 14-year-old confirmed that nothing beats receiving a full-size candy bar. Isaac, the 12-year-old son of Didn’t I Just Feed You podcast co-host Stacie Billis, agrees. And Pam Frederick, a mom and the editor and owner of Tribeca Citizen, told us that for her kid, bigger is always better. “My kid says the best thing is a full-size bar, and the worst thing is a toothbrush or a protein bar,” she told us.

Mitchell Cohen, owner of Economy Candy on the Lower East Side, also says that full-size bars are the most impressive. “I have had many people start shifting to full-size candy bars,” he explains. And when it comes to the full-size bar to give, Cohen names one you might not have heard of, from Tony’s Chocolonely, which he says has become a fast favorite among his customers. “People buy handfuls at a time,” he told us, admitting he’s a Tony’s fan himself. “They are delicious and very popular.” Cohen said he and his wife found the Dutch-made chocolate last year while visiting Amsterdam, where they made a point to track the bars down. “I personally recommend them to customers and then they become hooked,” he adds. Food writer Danyelle Freeman says that she also came across the company while in Amsterdam, and that it has a do-good approach to business that may appeal to parents as much as the candy appeals to kids. “What’s so great about Tony’s Chocolonely is that it’s not only legitimately delicious, but the company is on a mission to end slavery and child labor on cocoa farms,” she says. “My favorite chocolate-bar flavors are the dark milk pretzel toffee and milk honey almond nougat.” The brand’s fair-trade practices — which it says include making chocolate without slave labor — means its chocolate bars come at a slightly higher price point, but Tony’s also makes a less-expensive candy that the budget-conscious might consider (more on that below). Tony’s Chocolonely first crossed The Strategist’s radar when some bars landed in our office earlier this year. Managing editor Maxine Builder, who took a deep dive into status chocolate bars for the Strategist, describes them as “that same sweet, sweet chocolate bar you treasured as a kid, just made with nicer ingredients.”

Tony’s Chocolonely Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bar

This year’s (less expensive) status Halloween candy: Tiny Tony’s chocolate coins

Tony's Chocolonely Tiny Tony's Halloween Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Bag

If you’re expecting an army of trick-or-treaters at your doorstep this Halloween, you might consider stocking up on Tiny Tony’s Milk Caramel Sea Salt Coins, a new offering from Tony’s Chocolonely for this Halloween season. The bite-size chocolate coins are individually wrapped in festive orange packaging for the holiday, making them an excellent alternative to the full-size bars. Alyssa Shelasky, author of Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs in and Out of the Kitchen and a writer for Grub Street and the Cut, is a fan. “For some reason I feel like Tony’s Chocolonely is having a moment,” she told us, noting that the chocolate-caramel coins are “so freaking good.” She adds that “I’m planning to give out the Tony’s Chocolonely new Halloween Tiny Tony’s because I tried them, they’re to die for, and they’re just slightly more sophisticated than some of the other crap.” Facialist and foodie Chelsea Hunter Harrison, who first came across Tony’s at a health-food store, feels similarly about the chocolates. “They are perfect,” she says, adding that she plans to hand out the coins this Halloween, too, partly to share the brand’s slave-free chocolate mission. “The price of chocolate is artificially low due to slavery and unethical labor, making chocolate feel disposable … I actually prefer spending more for some Tony’s to remember the value of chocolate — that a lot of work goes into it.” Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson, who tried the milk-chocolate sea-salt coins and “immediately fell in love,” describes them as having an “addictive salty-sweet taste that makes them more approachable than a bitter, extra-dark chocolate bar,” while still “tasting richer and more buttery than your standard drugstore candy.”

More worthy candy to give this Halloween

Hershey's Halloween Chocolate Candy, Glow in the Dark Wrapped Variety Mix

Sometimes, no matter how well-intentioned you are about prepping, you wind up scrambling at your local drugstore hours before the hordes invade your stoop. Should this happen to you, our experts say you can still walk out with candy that will impress trick-or-treaters, and suggest grabbing some classic candies with wrappers that glow in the dark. “I’m a food lover (and writer) at heart, so I won’t stock my bowl with any old drugstore candy,” says Freeman. “Though I do think the glow-in-the-dark Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars are fun to light up the big, spooky night.” Alexa Suskin, a mom of three who lives in Cobble Hill (a popular neighborhood for trick-or-treating and impressive decorations), told us “My husband and I joke that we have an extra candy tax that we should build into our budget for the amount of candy we give away.” Given the number of trick-or-treaters who come through her neighborhood, she’s usually looking for inexpensive fun-size options, and the glow-in-the-dark minis are on her radar for this year, as well.

Kit Kat Pumpkin Pie Miniatures
Hershey's Fall Harvest Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates

For a couple of other foodie-approved drugstore options, Freeman likes these chocolates from Kit Kit and Hershey’s that are only sold around Halloween. “If you only had time to stop at your local Walgreens or CVS, my vote would be pumpkin-pie Kit Kats or Hershey’s caramel-apple-filled milk chocolates,” she says. (For something more upscale, Freeman says “you could head to Dylan’s Candy Bar and gift candy kebabs or mini candy cauldrons filled with gummy worms.”)

Justin's Nut Butter Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Gumbinner told us that in-the-know adults like giving out Justin’s organic peanut-butter cups — mostly because the peanut-butter cups (which are kind of a “healthier” take on Reese’s) are delicious, but also because, like Tony’s Chocolonely, the brand promises it is socially and environmentally conscious. Laura Fenton, a writer/editor and the lifestyle director at Parents Magazine, agrees that Justin’s peanut-butter cups are a popular candy to give, but she prefers the brand’s mini version. “I’d be thrilled if my neighbors were passing out Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut-Butter Cups, so I could steal them from my kid’s stash,” she says. Each bag in this six-pack includes individually wrapped mini peanut-butter cups that would be easy to hand out on Halloween.

Kit Kat White Creme Wafer Bars Candy

When we asked our kid sources what specific candy they hoped to receive in full-size form, Gumbinner’s 14-year-old told us that “white-chocolate Kit Kats are the best.” While we’re sure the trick-or-treaters at your door would be thrilled to receive a full size, the white-chocolate wafers are available in mini form, too.

Charleston Chew Bar

For another kid we talked to, the best full-size status candy bar is the one that requires a hunt. 12-year-old Isaac told us that his most coveted full-size bar is a Charleston Chew because “they’re rare and hard to find — they’re like antiques.”