N Candy AA II: Round of 64, Flight 2
October 16, 2010

At long last, we've got the second half of the N Candy AA: The Non-Chocolate Edition!

Okay, it's finally cool enough out here to warrant chicken roasting and lentil soup-making for dinner, so I'm very on on board with Halloween now. Additionally, it's pumpkin ale season (not that it's never NOT pumpkin ale season for me, but I enjoy it far more in the grey chill nights) and we have found our new favorite pumpkin ale. We've been patronizing Buffalo Bill's pumpkin ale since we moved out here AND CAN'T GET POST ROAD but this year's batch tasted really sour to me. That sourness is somewhat mitigated by pairing the beer with a chocolate chip cookie, but still, it was disappointing to me. Anyway, our newest pumpkin love is Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin. It's amazing and so much better than their Pumpkinhead.

Confused? Hungry? Searching for answers? Look no further. Bracket is here, voting is now.

1 Peeps vs. 16 Zotz. There's no way I'm not picking Peeps to win this whole damn tournament. I mean, a candy that has not only spawned itself into new shapes every year (Bunting told me there are PUMPKINS now!) but has also inspired some of the coolest, craziest dioramas? That's a beloved candy. And what does Zotz do by comparison? Makes you foam at the mouth. Essentially, it's fruit-flavored rabies.

Peeps are clearly going to push all the way through, so we'll have plenty of time to discuss our favorite recipes. For now, I'm keeping this short and sweet.

8 Now & Later vs. 9 maple candy. There are a few candies that make me hork, and maple candy happens to be one of them. I know it's a candy, but maple candy -- whatever shape it comes in, be it maple leaf, Dutch boy or girl, or the state of Vermont -- is waaaay too sweet. I loathe the stuff. My 100% Dutch dad is a big fan and bought a bunch of it when we road-tripped through Holland, Michigan. But then no one really ate it, and it got hygroscopic before the ants set in. ["Send it to me next time; I can put down a half pound in one sitting." -- Bunting] I don't love Now & Laters. Never considered them an essential Halloween haul (Hauloween, heh.), but they're all right. As long as you don't try to chomp down on them too early in the sucking game, because those things will pull your fillings right out.

I know Now & Laters have brand name recognition, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the tree slurpers pull off a sappy win.

5 saltwater taffy vs. 12 horehound candy. I swear, I should call this "Stephanie's Summer Vacation Candy Match-Up." Whenever we stayed at Long Lake outside of Traverse City, Michigan, we'd get saltwater taffy in Leelanau and horehound candy when we went to concerts at Interlochen. (Bunting had to explain to me that horehound candy is the striped sticks of candy found at old-fashioned general stores. I only knew them as "the striped sticks of candy found at old- fashioned general stores.") Selecting horehound candy is a lesson in old time-y flavors: birch, clove, SASSAFRAS! Love it. Meanwhile: saltwater taffy. I like it, yet it's an annoying wad of stuff to get around. I think Phoebe said it best on Friends: "WHAT THE MOTHER OF CRAP IS UP WITH THIS STUFF? Is it gum, is it food? I mean what's the deal?...[swallow]...Oh, it's nice!" I'm torn, but I think saltwater taffy -- as long as everyone out there accepts it as candy in the general sense -- will move forward, leaving all the more sassafras sticks for me!

4 Fun Dips vs. 13 Hot Tamales. I'm personally "meh" over this match-up. Fun Dips were rendered an unnecessary allowance expenditure once I discovered that the same stuff was stashed in my mom's Jell-O packets. So you can eat the dipstick, big whoop. Hot Tamales are okay, if you like to have a box that is just one flavor and one flavor only. I think the novelty of Fun Dips will blow it to the next round, leaving Hot Tamales to burn with shame in their powdered-sugar wake.

6 Butterscotch Buttons vs. 11 Smarties/SweeTarts. Classic old-lady candy meets classic Halloween haul. Man, Mathra would be pissed if I didn't vote for Smarties/SweeTarts, since they are the only thing he requests at Halloween, but I do love me some butterscotch suck-candies. ("Suck-candies" -- that's what we called the Butterscotch Buttons, Root Beer Barrels, and such that my mom carried in her purse and doled out to us at the Children's Theatre production of "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." Don't worry, we were quiet. We unwrapped them only under cover of applause.) I did love getting Smarties in my pumpkin, though. We used to pretend they were pills. What with that and my memories of candy cigarettes, I'm beginning to think I was a childhood junkie. ["Red and I used to heat our Smarties on a lightbulb. I have no idea how we figured out that this improved the taste a hundredfold, but once we had, we sautéed our Smarties every time. Perch a Smartie on a 60-watt; when a tiny thread of smoke begins to rise, the Smartie is done. Enjoy, and no fair suing me if your lamp shorts out." -- Bunting]

Apparently, this is a tough one for me, but I'm going to ignore the ranking and say that Smarties/SweeTarts smacks Butterscotch on its Buttons.

3 DumDums vs. 14 candy buttons. Aw, now this is making me choose between two great loves! It's true that -- as Bunting reminded me -- it's nearly impossible to get a button off its strip of paper without a large amount of the paper coming with it, but how cute are those candies? CUTE AS A BUTTON! I love them. I love the idea of them, I love their colors, I love their lack of distinctive flavors, and I love, love, LOVE that your candy was measured by the strip. It's like I was some sort of juvenile acid freak. HOWEVER, when DumDums landed in my plastic Halloween pumpkin (we graduated to pillowcases when we got greedier), I considered them the jewel of my haul. I wouldn't even eat them right away. I'd save them. HOARD them. More than their flavors, I think I loved the wrapper patterns most of all. Also, DumDums were the only lollipops small enough to allow you to pull off a believable Kojak. DumDums will push on through, because who loves you, baby?

7 Necco Wafers/conversation hearts vs. 10 rock candy. Hm, flavorless cardboard disks vs. colored sugar on a stick. Toughie. No, I know Necco Wafers are beloved by many, including my mom, but I've never understood the appeal. Yet: I love conversation hearts, probably more for their 5th grade ramifications than their flavor. I remember scouring my construction paper and doiley-decorated paper bag for evidence (in the form of chalky, nearly unreadable candy hearts) that Jeff Lindstrom liked me. Of course, that was an exercise in futility since the only people who brought Valentines were girls. However, how appealing is rock candy? Is the sugar even flavored? I suspect not. I think the Necco lovers will make their presence known and leave massive-chunks-of-sugar-on-a-stick stranded on the rocks. ["Necco is also responsible for those cough-syrup-tastic Valentine hearts. Candy fail." -- Bunting]

2 Good 'n' Plenty vs. 15 gobstoppers/very large round candies. I've never understood the appeal of gobstoppers. I'm not patient enough to suck forever (hew) until I can finally crunch down and satisfyingly chew up the candy. Then again, Good 'n' Plenty are just licorice flavored bacteria rods, and I HATE black licorice more than I hate maple. If I had to choose, I guess I'd eat a gobstopper over Good 'n' Plenty, but I'm guessing it's the pink and white bacteria that make it to the next round.

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