We love our iconic movie snacks because we're loyal. But who are we kidding? They could be much better than they are. Next time you're thinking of chowing down on classic concession-stand treats, consider these alternatives that are probably better suited to your grown-up tastes.
If you like Milk Duds ...
Milk Duds hold undeniable appeal, but the chocolate couverture is pretty waxy, and the caramel is lethally maw-grabbing. Try chocolate-covered sea salt caramels from Big Picture Farm. They may be bougie AF, but they're delicious — soft caramels with a buttery tang, a dark chocolate coating, and a touch of salt. And you don't need to eat a whole box to be satisfied.
Buy: Chocolate-Covered Goat Milk Caramels, $15 for six at Big Picture Farm
If you like movie popcorn ...
The sweet-savory caramel corn and cheesy combo of Garrett mix, aka Chicago mix, is a flavor cousin to peanut M&Ms dumped into fake buttered popcorn, but it's exponentially better. Once you've had this combo, you won't even give regular popcorn another look.
Buy: Garrett Mix, from $33 for one gallon at Garrett Popcorn Shops
If you like Junior Mints ...
There are limits to the pleasure that Junior Mints provide. The mint-chocolate flavor combo is unimpeachable, and they're a lot of fun to smoosh against the roof of your mouth with your tongue, but the candy is throat-searingly sweet.
Enter the bar-raising mint patty by Seely, a mint farm in Oregon. Two disks of bittersweet Belgian chocolate sandwich a minty filling that's made with their own peppermint oil. The ingredients are so pure, a sugar hangover actually isn't inevitable. Seely also makes bite-sized Mint Melts, which are more Junior Mint-ish.
Buy: Peppermint Patties, from $8.50 at Seely Mint
If you like Raisinettes, Goobers, or Hershey's Almond ...
It may seem unfair to lump these three candies together, but there's a reason: You can replace them all with one perfect chocolate confection. That would be the Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar. Talk about an undervalued but truly complete confection.
Each bar features break-apart cubes of smooth milk chocolate riddled with juicy raisins and generous quantities of chopped almonds. Just because you can get it at your local drug store doesn't mean you should discount this truly regal sweet.
Buy: Cadbury Fruit & Nut, $2 at Target
If you like gummy bears ...
Expand beyond the palette of Lifesaver-inspired flavors (and artificial colors) to the more vibrant, real-life-tasting gummy mangoes from Trader Joe's. These adorable fruit-shaped candies come in a mixed bag of plain mango, mango-passionfruit, and mango-yogurt varieties … that all taste like mango. The flavor is a nice balance of sweet and tart, and a respectable approximation of the fruit itself. But not too respectable — it still tastes like candy.
Buy: ¡Mango! ¡Mango! Gummies, $2 at Trader Joe's
If you like Twizzlers ...
Whether you're a strawberry licorice or a real licorice fan, there is more to life than the ropey, edible plastic that most people eat. I first tried these Australian strawberry twists a few years ago, and they opened my eyes to a whole other licorice experience. They're just as artificial as Twizzlers, but offer a novel, short-chunky shape; a pleasantly waxy, soft bite; and an appealing sweet-tart strawberry flavor.
Buy: Australian Soft Strawberry Licorice, $11 for 1.9 pounds at Old Time Candy
If black licorice is more your thing, try Lakrids, a producer from Denmark that makes some of the world's best and most creative licorice. The assortment of flavors is mind-boggling — chili-cranberry, traditional salted, and ginger are just a few. My favorite is the black licorice coated in milk and dark chocolates, then dusted with licorice and espresso powders. The taste is complex yet harmonious, and the thick chocolate coating combined with a chewy licorice core means an A+ texture.
Buy: Dark & Coffee Chocolate Coated Licorice, from $15 for 5.6 ounces at Lakrids
If you like Kit Kat bars ...
Kit Kats are really good, but the quality of the chocolate is meh. There is an easy fix. Get your hands on some imported British or Canadian Kit Kats and be prepared to have your mind blown. Or, at least, your standards raised. The industrial milk chocolate coming out of these countries is just better, and hence, the Kit Kat bars are, too. (And the packaging is way cooler.)