A Definitive Ranking of Movie Theater Candy

A Definitive Ranking of Movie Theater Candy

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Matthew Hickman
Jul 26, 2016
(Image credit: giphy)

For such a sweet indulgence, the topic of movie theater candy can be a bitter one involving one or more of the following: heated arguments, exaggerated gagging noises, and excessive side-eyeing once the lights go dim.

Like with mayonnaise and diet soda, moviegoers have strict allegiances when it comes to their candy — and with good reason. After all, if you're going to pay $6 for a box of sweets, you should get the kind you really enjoy, right?

We've whittled the options down to the most essential, the most enduring, the most classic. With the full realization that we're opening up a giant bag of gummy worms, here are the top movie theater candies ranked in descending order.

The Methodology

In our very scientific and definitive ranking of movie theater candy, we took into account three separate, but equally important, factors.

1. Classic Vibes

Does the candy inspire nostalgia? Was this sweet treat on offer when you were small and impressionable, and every time you see a movie you have to get it, even though it tastes like rubber?

2. Taste

Obviously key.

3. Plays Well with Popcorn

Popcorn is a given when it comes to the movie theater experience, so whether the candy in question enhances or detracts from that popcorn is clearly vital.

In the case of a tie, popcorn compatibility trumps classic vibes, and tastes trumps all.

A Definitive Ranking of Movie Theater Candy

And the Oscar goes to ...

(Image credit: Simon D/Flickr)

11. Haribo Gold-Bears

Haribo's signature gummy — excuse me, gummi — candy is a tasty choice, if one that's not all that popcorn-compatible. People also chew on these suckers loudly, which isn't good when you're trying to concentrate on a French art-house film. But c'mon, a movie theater's concession counter would look weird and lonely without 'em, right? Right.

  • Classic Vibes: **
  • Taste: @@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &
  • Overall: **@@&
(Image credit: C.C. Chapman/Flickr)

10. Swedish Fish

Some boxed candy purists may have strong words about this bright 'n' fruity Scandinavian interloper. But the unflaggingly popular Swedish Fish — pastellfiskar — is certainly deserving of a place on this list, although it doesn't particularly pair well with popcorn.

  • Classic Vibes: *
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &
  • Overall: *@@@&
(Image credit: Szapucki/Flickr)

9. Sour Patch Kids

Sour Patch Kids, chewy citric acid-coated humanoids first produced in Ontario in the late 1970s before entering the U.S. market in 1985, are the most modern concession stand candy to be ranked on this list. Chances are, if you go to the movies with Gramps, he'll scoff at 'em and embark on a long-winded tangent about the simple pleasures of the Jujube.

Many movie-going children of the '80s, however, maintain a soft spot for Sour Patch Kids and, while an unlikely pairing, SPK and popcorn (sour-salty overload!) scarfed together isn't all that offensive.

  • Classic Vibes: *
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&
  • Overall:*@@@&&
(Image credit: Nestle)

8. Buncha Crunch

Essentially a Nestlé Crunch bar in a crumbled-up and boxed form, Buncha Crunch is one of those rare birds that was first developed for and sold exclusively in movie theaters — and this hybridized confection still maintains a strong presence in movie theaters. While it doesn't exactly rock our world in the taste department, it's arguable that it's one of the popular (if not the popular) candies to combine with popcorn.

  • Classic Vibes: *
  • Taste: @@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&&&
  • Overall: *@@&&&&
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

7. Good & Plenty / Mike and Ike

Here are two crowd-pleasing candies, both of Pennsylvanian extraction, that have maintained a steady and devout following amongst moviegoers since, well, forever. They're old-timers: Good & Plenty (capsule-shaped, candy-coated licorice bites for the uninitiated) was first introduced in 1893, making it the oldest branded candy in the U.S., while Mike and Ike, fruity cousin to the Hot Tamale, was released in 1940. Both are tasty (there's a reason they've stuck around), if not super harmonious with popcorn.

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&
  • Overall: ****@@&&
(Image credit: American Licorice Company)

6. Red Vines

Our deepest apologizes to Twizzler Nation, but when it comes to red licorices we firmly believe that Red Vines rule — in movie theaters, anyways. Maybe it's the old-timey packaging; maybe it's because they're manufactured by an independent confectioner based in Oregon and not a multinational conglomerate; maybe it's because the ingredient list is simpler; perhaps the fact that they make superior drinking straw substitutes (don't forget the Mr. Pibb) has something to do with it. (Red Vines combined with popcorn, however, leave much to be desired.)

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &
  • Overall: ****@@@&
(Image credit: Urban Sea Star/Flickr)

5. Whoppers / Milk Duds

Chocolate-covered caramel lumps and malted milk balls, anyone? While these Hershey-produced confections might not have the widespread appeal of other movie theater sweets (particularly when it concerns under 35-ers), there's no denying the overwhelming ubiquity of Whoppers and Milk Duds. Simply put, they're solid and, like other milk chocolate options, go nicely with hot buttered popcorn.

  • Classic Vibes: **
  • Taste: @@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&&
  • Overall: ***@@&&&
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

4. Junior Mints

Many a classic candy was born during the first half of the 20th century on Confectioner's Row in Cambridge, Massachusetts: Charleston Chews, Necco Wafers, Sugar Babies, and the grand dame of movie theater snacks, Junior Mints. Creamy, satisfying, and very refreshing, Junior Mints are best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Go ahead, give them a try with popcorn; the flavor combination may surprise you.

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&
  • Overall: ****@@@&&
(Image credit: Doramon/Flickr)

3. Dots

First introduced in 1945 as a fruity spin-off of black licorice-flavored gumdrops, Black Crows, Dots can no doubt be divisive. After all, it's difficult to see the immediate appeal of slowly masticating easily stuck-in-your-teeth-nuggets of high-fructose corn syrup during a feature film. They can be noisy; they can be distracting; and depending on the state of your teeth, they can hurt. They also don't offer much when paired with popcorn. However, there's a good reason why Dots are the only boxed candy that some moviegoers will purchase (or smuggle into) into a movie theater. Trust us — once you go Dots, you never go back.

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &
  • Overall: ****@@@@&
(Image credit: Simon D/Flickr)

2. Goobers / Raisinets

Sure, there may be minimal crossover between these two milk chocolate-covered somethings. After all, a deep and fiery hatred of raisins runs deep amongst a surprisingly large segment of the population, while some of us simply prefer to consume our peanuts undressed. Whatever the case, we've included Goobers and Raisinets together because they're both enduring — and highly edible — staples of movie theater candy display cases that happen to taste awesome with popcorn.

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&&
  • Overall: ****@@@&&&
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

1. Sno-Caps

Reliable, inoffensive, and seemingly custom-designed to be melted atop an extra-large tub of hot buttered popcorn, Sno-Caps is our ultimate choice for movie theater candy. Like pump-dispensers of "butter-flavored popcorn topping" and $6 small Diet Cokes, Sno-Caps are a phenomenon found only at the movies; their consumption limited to darkened auditoriums. And that's why they're the tops.

  • Classic Vibes: ****
  • Taste: @@@
  • Plays Well with Popcorn: &&&&
  • Overall: ****@@@&&&&
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