The Daily Gamecock

Head-to-head: Chocolate versus gummy candy to celebrate Halloween

<p>Organic, fair-trade Theo chocolates are stored on trays after cooling in Freemont, Washington</p>
Organic, fair-trade Theo chocolates are stored on trays after cooling in Freemont, Washington

It's nearly Halloween, and what better season to stock up on sweet treats? Two Daily Gamecock columnists argue whether the best candy to stock up on is the chocolate-based kind — a classic for every holiday and dessert — or the gummy kind — a fun, colorful and less messy alternative for any time.

Chocolate candy

When you went trick-or-treating as a kid, how often did you get excited about Hershey bars the size of your head? Or smile over the Reese’s peanut butter cups in the full bag you got? In my childhood, those were all we wanted on Halloween.

Chocolate is classic and tastes better. Chocolate is tasteful and romantic. Chocolate has history and a lineage in many industries. Chocolate is even healthier for you.

Chocolate is an American classic for people of all ages. The Hershey company has a rich history in America, and it even has a popular theme park located in Pennsylvania.

"The first cacao tree was domesticated in Central and South American rainforests 3,500 years ago," according to Santa Barbara Chocolate. I can't imagine gummy bears have as a deep history as chocolate, which existed in ancient civilizations.

Furthermore, chocolate can go on any dessert, which is why so many desserts are chocolate-based: chocolate lava cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate bars and brownies. The list is endless. There's even chocolate-covered fruit, for those wanting a healthier option.

Take other candies, for example. Try and list the number of popular and beloved desserts that are based around gummies or Skittles-type candy. There are none. At best, they get to be a cute decoration on a dessert that really doesn’t need them in the first place.

The closest thing to a gummy dessert is Jell-O — which, while fun in shots for legal adults at parties, is no one’s favorite dessert dish. No one has ever said they need to get home because they are excited to eat the Jell-O they have waiting for them there.

The argument for chocolate only grows when you think about its form potential. Chocolate can be turned into anything, and it can also have almost anything added to it. Candy companies sell chocolate bars with practically anything you can think of, now: peanut butter, coconut, pretzel, marshmallow, caramel, and even ingredients such as potato chips and hot sauce have been added to chocolate bars. And, most importantly, they are all delicious.

Another popular item is chocolate-covered nuts and chocolate-covered berries. One of the many perks of chocolate, especially including dark chocolate, is that just because it has chocolate doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. According to Healthline, dark chocolate has many proven health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and reducing someone’s risk of heart disease.

I don't think a gummy worm has ever made anyone healthier.

Other holidays, for example, Valentine's Day, use chocolate-covered strawberries as a staple. On this romantic holiday, I can confidently say most would rather give chocolate-covered strawberries as a gift, rather than a package of gummies that they picked up from CVS on their way home because they forgot about Valentine’s Day. 

That’s also how people can feel when they receive gummies on Halloween. Like the person giving out candy forgot about trick-or-treaters and just ran to CVS a few minutes ago to get some jelly, neon sugar worms.  

Chocolate doesn't even have to be a food. There is hot chocolate, chocolate milk and chocolate liqueurs. There are delicious drinks and cocktails revolving around chocolate.

It says something that the fanciest parties have chocolate fondue or chocolate fountains. 

A gummy is just a sugary attempt at a fun treat and will never be anything more than that. At the end of the day, chocolate has a million reasons why it is better than gummies, no matter what occasion.

Gummy candy

Gummy candy is the best type of Halloween candy. As a medium for candy-making, gummies offer confectioners the most options of shapes, colors and flavors for their Halloween treats.

When one thinks of gummy candy, one might picture bears, worms, rings, sharks, butterflies, berries, army guys or even pumpkins. While that list is long, it is by no means exhaustive.

All aspects of the gummy world are appealing. Their bright colors entice the eye. They compel you to wonder what they taste like. To me, the best gummies are the ones coated in crunchy Nerds-type candy. I find this to be something chocolate struggles to live up to.

Most of us know what a lump of sad, half-melted Halloween chocolate tastes like; probably some mix between cheap, too sugary and stale cardboard.

But how about a neon yellow and green gummy worm? Or a blue bear? The unique shapes of gummy candy make it a true escape from the monotony of daily life — and isn’t that what Halloween is all about?

<p>Jennifer Davis gets samples of gummy candies at the Vidal Candies booth area at the Sweets &amp; Snacks Expo Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at McCormick Place in Chicago.</p>
Jennifer Davis gets samples of gummy candies at the Vidal Candies booth area at the Sweets & Snacks Expo Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

I must concede, chocolate does have its value. Just not on Halloween.

Chocolate cake is great on my birthday. Molten lava cakes are a great way to impress someone with your baking skills. And chocolate strawberries are a great way to say “happy Valentine’s Day.”

Here’s the thing: Halloween isn’t a birthday party. Halloween isn’t a time to show off your culinary prowess, and it certainly isn’t Valentine’s Day.

Halloween is a day to be something other than yourself. It is a time to put on a mask and embrace the stranger things in life — vibrant gummy candy being one of them. It is also a day to hand out candy to the kids of the neighborhood — and gummy candy is typically free of the eight major allergens.

Moreover, gummy candy stirs the least amount of controversy. No one dislikes gummy bears, but people hate Almond Joy.

The fact is, the worst types of chocolate candy are far worse than the worst gummies. 

Chocolate faces greater risk of melting during trick-or-treating. Chocolate can and will melt in your hand, but gummies won’t. Chocolate will stain your clothes, melt into the carpet and simply get everywhere, but gummies won’t.

Finally, gummies boast far greater flavor options than chocolate Halloween candies. Gummies can be sweet or sour (or both). There are citrus, tropical or berry flavored gummies, and every flavor in between. 

I also find it worth mentioning that there is an opinion among candy consumers that chocolate, particularly in America, has a vomit-like taste to it. Have you ever wondered why there is a sour or acidic flavor to your chocolate? 

Although Hershey has never confirmed this process, some experts say the company processes its milk through something called "controlled lipolysis," which produces butyric acid. This is the same acid found in both parmesan cheese and vomit.

Just food for your Halloween thought.

At the end of the day, gummies are the ideal Halloween candy for breadth as a confectionary category, its awe-inspiring shapes and colors and its higher melting point. This year, trade your chocolate bars in for Sour Patch Kids, gummy bears and peach rings to unlock a childlike joy in your Halloween snacking.