Hard Candies Ranked Worst To Best

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Say you're the proverbial kid in a candy store. You've been given free rein to choose any candy you'd like from a literally infinite selection. What do you choose? A gourmet turtle? A rope made of Twizzlers? A classic Reese's, perhaps, or even a Venus Gummy De Milo? Maybe the better question (for our purposes, at least) is whether any person born after 1950 would choose a hard candy if every imaginable sweet were on hand.

To be clear, we're not trying to demean anyone who legitimately loves hard candy. But there is probably a reason that this category of confection (often individually wrapped in crinkly plastic) is generally associated with the elderly, many of whom likely grew up with a mere fraction of the candy choices available to modern consumers. Of course, while it may not be our favorite type of treat, we'll almost always accept (and savor the slowly-dissolving flavor of) a nice piece of hard candy.

Now, not all hard candy (defined as candy that's actually hard and is designed to be sucked on for a period of time) is created equal. While some varieties are excellent, others should definitely be avoided. 

13. Gin Gins

While it may be difficult to pick the best candy in the world, there's no confusion or uncertainty regarding the worst hard candy in existence. Because while Gin Gins may be described as a "hard ginger candy" on its website, let's be perfectly honest: Gin Gins are nothing more than a cough drop (via The Ginger People). 

Realistically, the only circumstance in which this ginger-flavored hard candy wouldn't be the worst candy ever is if we also considered HALLS Menthol-Lyptus. While HALLS may be associated with painful childhood memories of elderly relatives foisting lozenges on them as a supposed candy during visits, they're still technically a lozenge and not a candy, so Gin Gins are still the worst-tasting candy.

We suppose anyone who genuinely enjoys Gin Gins (they must exist, right?) can at least take solace in knowing they aren't forced to suck on pennies for long-lasting satisfaction. But Gin Gins taste quite terrible. Frankly, if you're hankering for something gingery that simultaneously soothes the throat, you'd be better off grabbing a ginger ale.

12. Red Hots

When we reach for a piece of candy, regardless of the type, we're not exactly eager for a treat that's more likely to burn our tongue than provide a delightful burst of sweetness. And while we certainly enjoy spicy foods in a savory context (and gleefully put Frank's Red Hot Sauce on everything), it's never what we're looking for in a candy or dessert. Consequently, since we can't stand the heat (when it's sweet, at least), we're not fans of this hard candy. 

Maybe if the flavor of Red Hots (or any generic, cinnamon-flavored hard candy, for that matter) was a smidge less intense, we'd be more inclined to enjoy these nearly century-old candies (via Ferrara Candy Shop). Quite frankly, if Red Hots tasted more like Cinnamon Toast Crunch (a dessert-adjacent cereal that deftly dulls cinnamon's naturally sharp flavor profile), we would enjoy them much more. 

As it is, though, Red Hots are not great, in our humble opinion. Still, the fact they're a bit closer to authentic candy than Gin Gins makes them a slightly better option, though certainly not the best. 

11. Peppermints

Peppermints were penalized in our assessment due to the almost incomprehensible fact that it's a somewhat spicy candy. Frankly, it doesn't matter if it's a small peppermint candy like Star Brites, made by Brach's, or a candy cane during the holiday season; if you're offering us a peppermint hard candy, it won't receive a warm reception. Still, since peppermint mocha is a delectable combination, we're slightly less likely to reject a peppermint over a Gin Gins or Red Hots. 

Now, we may be in the minority when it comes to disliking peppermints in general or, rather, peppermints sans a secondary component, like chocolate. After all, peppermint hot chocolate is an essential component for a memorably yummy Christmas (whether or not you're planning the holiday entirely by can).

However, given its slightly malleable profile, we're willing to give peppermint candy a bit more credit compared to Gin Gins and Red Hots. But we can't pretend like peppermints are our favorite candy. So all the power to anyone who's eager to grab a handful of peppermints: We'll stick with a hard candy that actually tastes like candy.

10. Root Beer Barrels

Root beer barrels are a truly bizarre creation, though we can sort of understand the candy's enduring popularity. After all, not unlike how children generally prefer unique, non-generic-shaped chicken nuggets, there's just something amusing about consuming a food item shaped like an actual soda barrel.  

Still, we consistently run into a similar issue with root beer barrels as with Gin Gins; namely, if we're craving a root beer, we'll just drink an A&W or Barq's. Therefore, while Root Beer Barrels are a decent candy, we simply can't justify calling it our favorite.

If nothing else, at least Root Beer Barrels (like the Dad's Root Beer-branded version, sold by OldTimeCandy.com) always taste like candy rather than a breath mint or cough drop of some sort. But the problem with Root Beer Barrels is how quickly the candy becomes monotonous.

Frankly, given the novelty of a candy derived from soda, sucking on a Root Beer Barrel (or two) will bring a smile to our faces. But in our experience, the candy quickly loses momentum after we've eaten a couple of pieces. So while Root Beer Barrels are an enjoyable hard candy, they definitely aren't the absolute best. 

9. Wild cherry candies

Generally speaking, the types of candy we prefer tend to come from brands that offer a bevy of different flavors to consumers, while the ones we don't like tend to be single-flavor options. However, Claeys Old Fashioned Wild Cherry candy, available at All City Candy, is an exception to this trend.

Our lacking enthusiasm for wild cherry hard candy probably has something to do with our inability to separate the actual candy from cherry-flavored cough drops. Similar to our relative dislike of anything sweet-grape-flavored as an adult (given it drudges up memories of children's cough syrup), we can't entirely disengage wild cherry hard candy from wild cherry cough drops. 

And considering Luden's Wild Cherry throat drops are sold by OldTimeCandy.com as of January 2023, it's clear the intrinsic link between the wild cherry candy and cough drops isn't entirely in our heads. 

We greatly prefer fruit flavors to spice-derived ones. So while we're not all that crazy about cherry-flavored anything, at least Wild cherry candies taste naturally sweet, which makes them much better than candy such as Gin Gins. 

8. Strawberry bon bons

Did we realize strawberry bon bons, (those hard candies found in strawberry-adorned, wax-like wrappers with soft, fruity centers) were actually named strawberry bon bons before we began our research? We did not. But as Alanis Morrisette taught us back in the mid-1990s, you live, and you learn. So while we weren't aware of its proper name beforehand, we were well-acquainted with this hard candy. 

According to Boyd's Retro Candy, the existence of strawberry bon bons can be traced back to 17th-century France. These berry-flavored hard candies (which may or may not have been your grandma's favorite strawberry candy) are hardly a recent invention, as they clearly have a long history in the U.S.

We wouldn't classify strawberry bon bons as our personal favorite hard candy. But we do have a soft spot for this hard candy's soft strawberry center. While we do enjoy this candy, it definitely isn't our favorite. 

7. Creme Savers

We don't expect every reader will agree completely with our hard candy analysis, but that's perfectly acceptable! After all, each and every person is entitled to their personal preferences. Of course, we recognize that Creme Savers, which returned to shelves after a 10-year absence in 2021, may be a personal favorite for many readers (via Today)

Clearly, Creme Savers are adored by candy lovers across the nation, as illustrated in its recent revival by Iconic Candy. We enjoy the swirl of cream-and-fruit flavors and the pleasurable way this candy melts in your mouth. 

Then again, while we can't pretend we haven't enjoyed more than one Creme Saver in our lives, we just can't say we believe it's better than some of our favorite types of candy. Hence, while Creme Savers certainly do make for a nice treat, there's just so much better out there in the world of candy. 

6. Lemonheads

We're tempted to say Lemonheads are our favorite candy ever based on just our admiration for the early 1990s cover of "Mrs. Robinson" by The Lemonheads. So while we do like this lemon drop-type hard candy (available at Ferrara Candy Shop), we wouldn't say it's the best. 

Lemonheads are a perfectly pleasant combination of sweetness and tartness, and they make for an abundantly appetizing treat. These are great for folks who desire a slightly sour candy from time to time. Since we feel tart-tasting desserts are truly terrific, Lemonheads are the type of hard candy we'd reach for (and gladly accept) in a heartbeat.

Of course, this hard candy only comes in a single, solitary flavor (can you guess the flavor?) So, if you're looking for candy options with multiple flavors, it'd be best to go with a different variety. However, if you do prefer Lemonheads to any other hard candy, we completely understand why.

5. Warheads

When you consider the topic of candy, it's easy to ascertain why nostalgia is an important aspect of deciding which sweets are the best. While most types of candy do remind us of our childhood in one way or another, some played a bigger role than others in our personal development. We can hardly think of childhood without thinking of Warheads, which are impossibly sour hard candies from Impact Confections.

In all honesty, we can't say for sure whether we've actually eaten any Warhead candies since sixth-grade recess. But like countless other folks who came of age in the 1990s, we'll always hold a soft spot in our hearts for Warheads candy and the undeniable hand it has played in our adolescence.

Given that and the fact there are countless flavors, as opposed to one monochrome option, we think Warheads are definitely one of the better candies out there. Frankly, if Warheads are your top candy, we suggest you go suck a lemon or, more appropriately, an extreme sour lemon Warhead.

4. Jawbreakers

This may be a bit embarrassing to admit, but we initially listed both Jawbreakers and the Willy Wonka-inspired Everlasting Gobstoppers (available at Ferrara Candy Shop) as two separate hard candies. But lo and behold, Everlasting Gobstoppers are simply a name-brand version of Jawbreakers: The incomprehensibly hard candy that may, in fact, break your jaw (or a tooth) if you bite into it too soon. 

Of course, semantics aside, Jawbreakers played a vital part in countless childhoods around the world, including ours. Now, there's a strong case to be made that Jawbreakers are the best candy in the world. But, well, we're not going to make that argument because while we like Jawbreakers, they're a tad less enticing than some other candy varieties. 

Still, the visual cacophony of changing colors (and rotation of sugary flavors) is far more enjoyable than the majority of other candies. If you're in the mood for hard candy, Jawbreakers are a great option. 

3. Jolly Ranchers

It can be hard to decide which candy is the best, especially considering all the delicious and mouthwatering options. But we still think some other varieties of candy are significantly more delicious than the beloved Jolly Ranchers. 

Jolly Ranchers candy is easily one of the best candy options that you can opt for. Frankly, there's a reason why Jolly Ranchers were the best-selling hard candy on Amazon as of January 2023. Not only are Jolly Ranchers monumentally mouth-watering, but the variety of available flavors greatly boosts its standing among hard candies. 

Yet, Jolly Ranchers are not the best: We know that a number of readers will be aghast at this statement, but we stand by it. Jolly Ranchers have a tendency to get (and stay) stuck in our teeth more than any other hard candy. That said, we still think that this candy is quite good, and that's something worth celebrating. 

2. Life Savers

For anyone who's curious, the reason we like Life Savers so much is due to childhood experiences. After all, we vividly recall receiving Life Savers Christmas books as stocking stuffers each and every year growing up, and that connection undoubtedly influences the reason we would always pick this candy over Jolly Ranchers. 

Life Savers have one additional advantage over Jolly Ranchers that set them apart: They're also available in Wint-O-Green mint flavor alongside the standard fruit-flavored varieties. This variation makes Life Savers extra exciting since there are many different varieties to sample and enjoy. 

While we do like Life Savers, we don't think it's the most delicious candy. Don't get us wrong, we really like Life Savers, but we would fight tooth and nail against anyone who argues they're the best candy out there. We think that the brand's focus on fruity (and minty) varieties brings it down a notch.

1. Werther's Orginal

Realistically, for many people, there's little doubt that Werther's Original candy is a favorite for many people. We love caramel even more than chocolate, meaning Werther's Original (made with real butter and cream, according to the company's website) is our favorite candy ever. 

What is it about Werther's Original that fills our hearts with such warmth and joy? Perhaps it's the near-divine way the hard candy dissolves in your mouth over time, whether it's the classic version or a creamy caramel-filled variety. Actually, Werther's Original largely towers over the hard candy competition because the caramel-centric sweet isn't fruit-flavored, which helps set it apart from the crowd of typical hard candy flavors.

Of course, the main factor that determines the superiority of Werther's Original candy is its incomparable taste. Quite frankly, we can't imagine a legitimate argument that proclaims any hard candy to be better than Werther's Original. So on that note, if you need us, we'll be noshing on the bag of creamy caramel-filled Werther's we just purchased.