Eight Worst Halloween Treats (and Three Favorites)

With Halloween fast approaching, you might be pondering what type of candy or other goodies to stock up on and hand out this year. While it’s well within your rights to hand out anything you please, there are certain “treats” to avoid if you’re hoping to make your neighborhood ghosts and goblins happy.

Yes, it’s true. Not all Halloween treats are created equal — especially in the eyes of the children (and adults) who plan to consume them. We asked for people’s favorite and most-despised treats from Halloweens past, and here’s what they told us.

Eight Halloween Treats That Nobody Likes

Only hand out these treats if you hate your neighbors (and their kids):

Anything Homemade

popcorn balls

We’re sure they’re delicious, but don’t pass them out to strangers. Photo: Raymond Bryson

We are huge advocates of homemade gifts and at-home meal prep at The Simple Dollar, but it’s a different story when you’re doling out goodies to dozens of kids. Nobody wants to eat a popcorn ball that was slopped together in a neighbor’s unseen kitchen.

As Kristi Carlson of Indianapolis notes, “We have several people in our neighborhood who do it, but I won’t let my child eat it for safety and food allergy reasons.”

For the same reason people check their kids’ candy for safety — or opt for their church’s Halloween program instead of traditional treat-hunting — plenty of people don’t want their kids to eat something that was made behind closed doors and not under the watchful eye of food safety inspectors.

Peanut Butter Kisses

peanut butter kisses

‘PB Nasties’ taste ‘like glue, peanut butter, and disappointment.’ Photo: Walmart.com

Generic as all get-out, peanut butter kisses are the least-favored candy among trick-or-treaters. Chewy, tasteless, and covered in a plain, uninspiring orange or black wrapper, these candies are seen as borderline inedible by some.

“As kids, we referred to the orange and black wrapped, hard, super-chewy, somewhat peanut-butter-and-glue-flavored cheap candies as’PB Nasties,'” said Amanda DeWester of central Indiana.

Mindy Jensen of Bigger Pockets vividly remembers getting peanut butter kisses, too. “They tasted like glue, peanut butter, and disappointment,” she said.

Random Stuff Due to Poor Planning

can of baked beans

If you run out of candy, it’s better to turn out the lights and close up shop than start raiding the pantry. Photo: Extraterrestrial Bob

If you don’t buy enough candy to satisfy your neighborhood, you risk running out — and being forced to hand out whatever you can find or simply closing up shop. Michelle of Making Sense of Cents says the latter option is probably better.

“I remember as a kid being handed a can of baked beans,” said Michelle. “They ran out of stuff to give and they were just handing out random stuff from their pantry!” The lesson: Buy enough so you won’t have to resort to handing out whatever you can find. You can take any leftover candy to your office and foist it upon your coworkers.

Branded Items for Your Small Business

branded keychains

If there’s one thing an eight year old needs, it’s something to keep his many keys organized. Photo: Chris McBrien

Even though handing out branded business items could theoretically provide some free advertising, that isn’t what Halloween is about. “Worst idea ever,” says Kelly Whalen of The Centsible Life. If you want to advertise your business, hang a sign on your door. Don’t give kids something they can’t possibly use just to further your business goals.

Food Without Proper Packaging

handful of almonds

Photo: Abd allah Foteih

“I got a handful of trail mix from one of my grandparents’ neighbors,” says Ben Luthi of Nerdwallet, adding that the palm-sized pile of treats came with “no packaging whatsoever.”

Kirk Chisholm of Innovative Wealth endured a similar situation once when a neighbor handed out doughnuts. “Great idea, but poor execution,” noted Kirk. “Where are my kids going to put doughnuts while trick-or-treating?”


Dentists should be happy kids are eating candy, says Sandy Smith of Yes I Am Cheap. If you’re opposed to handing out candy, you can always hand out a non-food treat that kids would actually enjoy — think dollar-store trinkets. “We always love to hand out non-candy treats,” notes Whalen of The Centsible Life, adding that kids thoroughly enjoy them.

Pennies and Nickels


Photo: Nic McPhee

Everyone likes getting money in lieu of gifts, right? Right? Well, maybe not on Halloween. It seems like every neighborhood has that one house that can’t be bothered with buying candy and gives out spare change instead.

Louis DeNicola from Cheapism.com experienced this type of embarrassment firsthand growing up. “My mom gave out pencils with a nickel, dime, or quarter taped to it,” he said. “Yeah, I was at that house.”

Candy Corn

candy corn worst halloween treat

Still gross after all these years. Photo: Juushika Redgrave

Even if you buy the kind shaped like a pumpkin, ghost, or goblin, it’s still just candy corn. Bigger than the size of an actual kernel of corn, and made of straight sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s wax, and artificial coloring, this candy’s simple makeup hasn’t changed in over 100 years. And yes, it was once referred to as “chicken feed.”

The bottom line: Even though it’s somehow endured the test of time, it’s still one of the least favorite candies out there.

Want to Make Your Neighbors Happy? Try These Treats

While some treats are less-than-enjoyable for the masses, certain tried-and-true Halloween handouts always please the crowds. Here are a few of the top treats to consider this or any year.

Full-Size Candy Bars

“The best treats were the people who bought the FULL chocolate bars,” says Martin Dasko of Studenomics. “Anyone can buy the small sample size, but those who bought the full size were amazing!”

Depending on how many trick-or-treaters you get each year, this could get pricey. If you’re bent on being the popular house this year, however, you can save money by buying in bulk and scouring Halloween sales ads early.

The Good Stuff

If you don’t want to hand out full-sized candy cars, you can still give out the good stuff. If you’re unsure what the “good stuff” is, ask a few people you know about their favorite candy.

As a default, you could always just stick to “fun size” Reese’s peanut butter cups, Snickers bars, Milky Way candy bars, and Sour Patch Kids. Nearly everyone will enjoy those — or will at least be able to trade them with a sibling for friend for something they will enjoy.

Things That Glow

If you’re against giving out candy for any reason, hand out some glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces instead. You can get these fairly cheap at the dollar store, and they’re fun for teenagers all the way down to toddlers. And even though glow sticks aren’t edible, they’ll help you score points among the neighborhood kids.

While you can give out anything you want this year, some treats are always a lot more popular than others. So give the best if you can, but at the very least, avoid the candies and items that will leave you friendless in your neighborhood social hierarchy.

What’s the worst candy you’ve ever received? How about the best? What do you plan on giving out this year?

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