Whether it’s Halloween season or just hangry hour, snack time is all about making the right choice. There are chips and crackers, gummies and...fruit…, but old reliable always sits in your desk drawer, or in the vending machine, or on the checkout counter — a candy bar.
And in the age of arguments, the argument over which candy bar is the best ranks right up there as one of the most heated, so we at Reviewed decided to try and take a crack at it. We set up a bracket of 16 candy bars and ran blind taste tests to determine what candy bar takes the crown.
The winner: Take 5
Looking at a Take 5 bar, it’s hard to envision it going far in a 16-candy bar bracket. But once you take a bite, it will immediately rocket to the top of your rankings, just like it did in our test. Our testers absolutely loved the bar from round one on and it made easy work of every opponent, including a comfortable victory over Kit Kat in the final.
It took the crown by combining everything that our testers loved. Chocolate, peanut butter and caramel, plus a pretzel for a salty-sweet combo that comes with a big crunch in every single bite. Many of our testers had no idea what it was before testing and were surprised to find out the true identity of the Hershey product at the end, but now they will remember and add it to their candy bar repertoire.
The full bracket:
The runner up: Kit Kat
Even though it fell just short, Kit Kat exemplified a lot of the features of a candy bar that our testers were looking for. It had the chocolate, it had the crunch with the wafer, plus the wafer also provided something a bit different than other bars to make it stand out. People especially loved the crunch, but it couldn’t measure up to the champ in Take 5.
Eliminated in the final four
Reese’s Fast Break
Like Take 5, before the tournament, nobody would’ve thought Reese’s Fast Break would’ve made so much noise. But when you take a bite into one and realize it’s just a Reese’s cup in bar form with more peanut butter, it instantly turns into one of the favorites. But the kicker? There’s also nougat in it, which our testers absolutely loved. But in the end, against the eventual winner in Take 5, the soft, satisfying Fast Break ran into a full-court press.
Maybe the most recognized candy bar in America, Snickers is what everyone thinks of when they think candy bars. Its nougat with caramel and peanuts coated in chocolate aren’t anything out of the ordinary, but the combination works as it steamrolled its way through the tournament. Unfortunately, it ran into Kit Kat, which surprisingly took it down.
Eliminated in the second round
From voter comments, it’s clear that Butterfinger is a love-hate type of candy bar. The crispy and sugary peanut butter core covered in chocolate leaves your hands melty and sticky, your teeth plastered and crumbs all over your clothes, but the flavor makes up for all of that. It’s one of those addictive candy bars, but after going up against Snickers, it’s clear it’s not for everyone.
One of the major takeaways from this tournament was that there is a faction of people squarely in the crispy rice corner. Against a finalist in Kit Kat, the 100 Grand made it a somewhat close battle thanks to the crispies, caramel and chocolate that a lot of testers hadn’t experience before and very much enjoyed. 100 Grand might not be the most well-known candy bar, but in the Reviewed office, it is known now. It just wasn’t enough to get past a classic.
Nut-lovers had their hopes and dreams thrown out with the wrappers in Pay Day’s second round matchup, as the bar received just one vote in a crushing defeat against Take 5. There was no knock on the peanuts and caramel surrounding a nougat center, but lacking chocolate was probably what helped it out of the tournament.
The whipped nougat wheels of the 3 Musketeers train came to a halt in the second round despite its first round triumph. In the battle of the bars, 3 Musketeers’ blandness just didn’t have enough weapons to combat the Reese’s Fast Break’s mix of peanut butter and chocolate.
Eliminated in the first round
Hershey’s chocolate has an entire theme park dedicated to it, along with multiple stores around the world. When someone says chocolate, Hershey’s is probably the first brand they think about. But in the battle of candy bars, brand recognition wasn’t enough. There was nothing bad said about the chocolate, but up against Pay Day in a battle of two very different bars, the peanuts won out.
If any of the candy bars in the first round could’ve made a run, it was probably Milky Way. However, it ran into 100 Grand in the first round and lost in somewhat of a surprise upset. People enjoyed the caramel and nougat covered in chocolate, but it was outplayed by the crispies in the 100 Grand along with the caramel and chocolate.
Baby Ruth was another staple that went out in the first round despite a number of different flavors packed in with peanuts, caramel, nougat and chocolate. Like Hershey’s, nobody had anything bad to say about it as it fell to the surprise victor Take 5. In any other matchup, it might have fared differently.
Mr. Goodbar lived up to its billing in the fact that it was good, but it wasn’t great. People did like the addition of nuts to the Hershey’s chocolate, but in the end, it was too bland to beat out a classic in 3 Musketeers.
Neither the left Twix or right Twix tasted better than the Reese’s Fast Break in the first-round matchup between the two. The positives for the Twix were that people loved the crunch and the wafers, but it just wasn’t enough to top Reese’s.
Nestlé Crunch Bar
Against one of the presumed top seeds in Snickers, Nestlé Crunch had a tough go of it, though some were huge on the crispy rice put in there. Some testers thought the chocolate wasn’t the greatest and preferred the chewiness of the Snickers over the crunch of the so-titled candy bar.
Almond Joy and Mounds were two of the least-liked candies of the first round outs, primarily because of the coconut. Coconut is clearly a very divisive flavor in modern day candy and while both bars went up against more established staples in Butterfinger and Kit Kat, the almonds in the middle weren’t enough to carry them through.
How we tested
We tried to incorporate as many different bars, flavors and features as we could, coming up with a base list of about eight popular candy bars and building out from there. The seeding was done at random, though the biggest names like Snickers and Milky Way were put in separate parts of the bracket.
The testing was done over two weeks with anywhere from one matchup (two bars) to three matchups (six bars) per day. Each bar was unwrapped and cut into little bits, done with extra care to make sure each bite incorporated every feature of the candy. Any bars with logos on them were scratched out and they were all served on numbered paper plates, with the testers told to select the number that they liked best and write down why.
- The biggest takeaway for this testing is to do it with milk. We didn’t do it with milk until the finals and it greatly improved the experience as both a palate cleanser and more importantly, something to wash down the chocolate.
- Yes, we probably missed a few of your favorite candy bars in our 16 choices, but there are also probably one or two new ones to try in that grouping too.
- It is impossible to hide what some of the candy bars were due to markings, shape or fillings (ex. Butterfinger, Kit-Kat, Hershey), but our testers were told to go into it unbiased with an open mind and did just that.
- It was very interesting to see the likes and dislikes from our testers in terms of peanut butter, nuts, coconut, crispy rice and other features weed themselves out over the week and a half of testing to provide four candy bars at the end that were all different, but had a lot of the same features.