Halloween Candy!

Sometimes I think about the hours I've spent doing things. For instance, I recently got a notice that I have spent more than 2,000 nights in a certain hotel chain, which sounds insane right from the start. When you realize that it means I've basically spent five and a half YEARS of my life in that hotel, it ... well, excuse me while I go find my kids to hug them.

I could do this with lots of things. How much of my life have I spent thinking about the Baseball Hall of Fame? How much of my life have I spent reading about, pursuing, purchasing and setting up gadgets?* How much of my life have I spent writing stories that I never finished? It's daunting, really, when you break it down like that.

*I don't want to think about it, though I do want to think about the new iPad Pro which I have obviously already ordered. Maybe I'll do a review when I get it.

But the main point here is: I've spent a lot of time thinking about Halloween candy.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that on a whim, I started a Halloween Candy Bracket. Because, of course I did. Let me say up front that I thought of it too late to do a full bracket or even a 32- or 16-teamer. I cut it down to 10 candies, using two play-in games to get to the Elite Eight.

The results so far:

Play-in game 1: Starburst vs. Butterfingers

Bonus analyst breakdown of the matchup:

Brandon McCarthy: "Starburst have a very high fun factor. Delicious."

Michael Schur: "Starburst are a gasoline-based plastic toxic nightmare of nausea."

Final score: Butterfingers 56, Starburst 44

Comment: Many people thought that Butterfingers should have been seeded higher, but as you probably know, I think Butterfingers are gross and frankly thought it was generous to include them in the tournament at all.

Play-in game 2: Candy Corn vs. Tootsie Rolls

Final score: Tootsie Rolls 67, Candy Corn 33

Comment: A tip to terrible old candy.

With that, we moved on to the Elite Eight.

No. 1 seed Reese's Cup vs. No. 8 Tootsie Rolls

Final score: Obvious. Reese's 90, Tootsie Rolls 10

Comment: No No. 1 candy seed has ever lost to a No. 8.

No. 2 seed Kit Kat vs. No. 7 Butterfingers

Final score: Kit Kat 66, Butterfingers 34

Comment: Solid first-round victory for the No. 2 seed; Butterfingers complained about the refs.

No. 3 seed: M&M's vs. No. 6 Skittles

Bonus analyst breakdown of the matchup:

Brandon McCarthy: "M&M's are boring and barely a candy. They're a candy the same way a plain biscotti is a dessert."

Michael Schur: "M&M's are garbage. Peanut are great. Should be peanut."

McCarthy: "Peanut M&M's are great. Regular are nothing. They're the only candy allowed in purgatory."

Final score: M&M's 66, Skittles 34

Comment: There was some controversy about whether it was peanut or regular M&M's, but it seems the voters appreciated that "M&M's" means "peanut or regular, depending on your preference." No other candy gets such leeway, but it has been earned through years of dedication and candy bags that contain both peanut and regular packs.

No. 4 seed Twix vs. No. 5 Snickers

Final score: Snickers 53, Twix 47

Comment: What a classic, as two candies, each believing deeply that they had been underseeded, went at it at the Palladium. Snickers, in the end, satisfied.

Which leads to ... get out and vote. It's your duty.


But even this is not the main point here.

Back around 2000 or so, before I even had kids, I got a few friends together and started my first Website. I called it ListedNumbers. You can still find it in the Internet Wayback Machine. It's comically designed -- calling it "designed" overstates things -- and silly, but I still love it. The idea was for me to get a bunch of friends and have them come up with various Top 10s. I ran across this the other day and was stunned by how great some of these are. We've got Chuck Culpepper's Top 10 disco songs, Mechelle Voepel's Top 10 Twilight Zones, Mike Vaccaro's Top 10 Godfather saga lines, etc. I put together a Top 10 of Norm lines from Cheers. I've got to re-run some of these.

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And, in there, I put a list of the 10 worst Halloween candies. I'd forgotten all about that. So, for your entertainment (or whatever the word is), here were my worst 10 Halloween candies in 2001, along with some commentary about how I feel now.

Here we go!

From 2001: Special mention must be given to those who give out nickels. Hey, listen, Grandpa, save the change you found in your couch, go out and buy a bag of Kit Kats, all right? What am I going to do with your nickel? Invest in the Techs? I'm nine years old here. Go back to the cabinets and see if Mrs. Scrooge has some licorice or Good & Plenty back there or something.

From 2018: Do people still give out pennies or nickels or any other denomination of money? I don't think so, but I think that's because we're getting pretty close to never using real money. I'm sure that someday, you'll be able to upload nickels and dimes into Halloween bags.

No. 10: Now and Later

From 2001: These hit virtually every Halloween no-no. They are stale Starbursts, close to taffy, close to hard candy, and you can get them everywhere. You know what, you can keep these now and throw them out later, all right?From 2018: It astonishes me that these still exist. But they do -- there are 19 "flavors." I think we all lose the ability to differentiate between Now and Later flavors at, say, age 27.

No. 9: Smarties

From 2001: OK, I love Smarties. Love 'em. But you can get them anywhere. There are bowls of them at banks, for crying out loud.From 2018: I was wrong here. Smarties are awesome and I steal them from my daughters' Halloween candy bags.

No. 8: MarshmallowCream of Anything

From 2001: Here's a good rule of thumb -- if it has marshmallow in it, don't give it out at Halloween. Torture your own kids with it, all right?From 2018: Yeah, still not crazy about marshmallows outside of a s'more or hot chocolate.

No. 7: Hard candy of any kind (Jolly Ranchers, Dum Dums, etc.)

From 2001: It's Halloween. I want something I can chew, all right? Time is of the essence here. My brother's on his 23rd Snickers, and I'm still sucking the same stinkin' Atomic Fireball.

From 2018: I'm surprised that I showed such anger toward Jolly Ranchers. They're still not my favorite, but I didn't realize that I ever actively loathed them like that.

No. 6: Tootsie Rolls

From 2001: The key is the Tootsie Roll Principle. As a kid, you never lack for Tootsie Rolls in your life. They're everywhere. You can buy like 284 of them for a nickel. So getting Tootsie Rolls at Halloween is a giant rip-off. It's like getting clothes for your birthday.From 2018: I must admit feeling a bit more sentimental about Tootsie Rolls now. In 2018, you don't see them everywhere like apparently we did in 2001. I have probably gone a whole year without seeing a single Tootsie Roll. They're still garbage candy, but harmless enough.

No. 5: Caramel Apples

From 2001: First of all, we appreciate the effort. We really do. I'm sure it took 17 hours to bake those apples just right. But you know what? It's still an apple, all right? This is Halloween. We want candy.

From 2018: I've done a complete 180 on this. I mean, nobody gives out caramel apples at Halloween, and if they did, I doubt anyone would let their kid eat them, but you know what? Caramel Apples are delicious. I'm not a caramel guy, but that combination really works.

No. 4: Bit-O-Honey

From 2001: This is part of the American conspiracy to shove taffy on kids. "Oh," they say, "kids love taffy." Let's get this straight. Kids don't love taffy. Adults don't love taffy. The only people who love taffy are women in musicals set in the 1880s. It takes like 17 Bit-O-Honeys to trade for one tiny Mr. Goodbar.From 2018: Yeah, same. Bit-O-Honeys are a blight on Halloween.

No. 3: Hershey's Special Dark

From 2001: Um, I'm a kid here, all right? I don't need bitter chocolate in my life. I know, they come in that variety bag, but can I please have the little Krackel bar? Huh?

From 2018: If there's one big difference between the 30-something version of myself and the 50-something version of myself, it's over chocolate. I now only want dark chocolate, the darker the better. I can't fathom eating straight milk chocolate now. I fear that this is the final sign of becoming a crotchety old person.

No. 2: Candy Corn

From 2001: Hey Mister, just because you haven't bought any candy since you were 8 doesn't mean I want a handful of your 1863 sugared kitty litter, all right?

From 2018: Yeah. Wait, what could I possibly have thought was worse than Candy Corn?

Oh. Yeah.

No. 1: Circus Peanuts by Spangler Candy

From 2001: Anyone who would give out this door-stopper, this engine part, this orange-looking, spoiled-banana tasting, marshmallow-chalk-paste-rubber-stucco compound carelessly beaten into a vague peanut shape was obviously never a kid herself.

From 2018: Harsh. But fair. In 2001, I put a link -- best you could do a link in 2001 -- to a recipe for Circus Peanuts Gelatin. I wrote then that I could not imagine anything more disgusting. With the wisdom of 17 years, I can tell you: I still haven't thought of anything more disgusting.