Data doesn’t lie, so what’s the best candy?

Editor’s Note: This post was written back when we also offered data science courses. In recent years, we’ve shifted entirely to software engineering bootcamps for total beginners and for those with intermediate coding skills. Join a bootcamp to learn the latest coding and data skills that’ll help you launch a new career as a software engineer. And in the meantime, we hope you enjoy this post! 


Written by Kevin Juhasz

Which sweet is the sweetest of all? Snickers? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? M&M’s? Skittles? Kit Kat? 

Unfortunately, this question is virtually impossible to answer (but it’s fun to investigate regardless!).

To try to find an answer, you can look at what candy sells the most overall, but that doesn’t really give you an accurate picture. You have to consider that candy tastes vary widely from country to country, and even from state to state in the U.S. On top of that, some candy isn’t available in all places, so we don’t know if a chocolate bar lower on the list would suddenly jump higher if it was introduced in more places.

According to Simply Sweet, in the United States, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&M’s reign supreme, whereas citizens of France, Mexico, and Egypt are more likely to opt for gum. Those in China and Saudi Arabia prefer Dove bars. The only thing that seems to dominate everywhere is some form of chocolate.

While the overall U.S. candy market shows favoritism toward chocolate, looking at items on a state-by-state basis also shows a love of Skittles, Starburst, and Sour Patch Kids in many places.

There’s no shortage of companies and individuals using data science to try and figure out what candy people want most and where.

“Traditionally, whenever a company wants to understand what’s selling well, they use a variety of tools to analyze their data,” said Shanif Dhanani, CEO of data platform company Apteo and Reese’s fan. “Often, you’ll use simple data visualizations like charts and graphs to view unit sales or revenue over time. By comparing these visualizations, they’re usually able to quickly see which of their products is selling best.”

Dhanani added that someone can pretty much just look at the sales data and determine which candy is the “best.” This will give you an idea of which is being purchased the most, but this method isn’t without its flaws.

“Aggregating data at a high level can hide details that you may care about, like breakdowns by geography,” Dhanani explained. “Data aggregation is a pretty common way of understanding the high-level aspects of a business, but it can hide nuances in the data, like which regions are performing better than others. It’s important to look at the totals across any groupings that you care about.”

But if you’re looking for what’s the most popular, the best method is to go out and ask people what they love through surveys.

“I believe it is always best to determine popularity by opinion surveys,” explained Joseph Chong, founder of Acxtron and a person who puts Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstoppers at the top of his favorites list. “This indicates a personal preference for the product and is more reflective. Revenue figures might be misleading in terms of the popularity of a specific candy. This is because, for example, during Halloween, people might be buying certain candies because it is more value for money where the quantity of candy might be more important than the preference.”

Ching added that surveys give more insight into the data, rather than insight into which candies are most popular overall. This also addresses the problems presented with the distribution of candy that skews the data.

“In order for the data to be analyzed properly, one assumption that must be made is that all the candies surveyed are offered in every location,” Chong said. “Otherwise, there might be apparent popularity of the candy because of the lack of distribution of another candy to several locations.”

Chong said that determining a popular candy is easier on a country level, but much more difficult on a worldwide level because some brands are not distributed to other parts of the world.

So, when all is said and done, what is the most popular candy? While the answer isn’t definitive, below we take a look at interesting Lists by Sales and Lists by Surveys. 

Lists by Sales

Best-selling Candy in the World

  1. Snickers
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Toblerone
  4. Kit Kat
  5. Dove
  6. Cadbury Dairy Milk
  7. Twix
  8. Milka
  9. 3 Musketeers
  10. Hershey Bar

Best-selling Candy in the United States

  1. M&M’s
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Hershey Bar
  4. Snickers
  5. Kit Kat
  6. Twix
  7. Twizzlers
  8. Skittles
  9. Dove Bar
  10. 3 Musketeers

Best-selling Candy at Halloween in the United States 2020

  1. Skittles
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Starburst
  4. M&Ms
  5. Hot Tamales
  6. Candy Corn
  7. Snickers
  8. Sour Patch Kids
  9. Hershey’s Kisses
  10. Jolly Ranchers

Lists by Surveys

Most Popular Halloween Candies by U.S. Kids 1-17

  1. Hershey Bar
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Kit Kat
  4. Snickers
  5. M&M’s
  6. Skittles
  7. Twix
  8. Starburst
  9. Sour Patch Kids
  10. Jolly Ranchers

Most Hated Halloween Candy in the United States

  1. Candy Corn
  2. Peanut Butter Kisses
  3. Circus Peanuts
  4. Wax Coke Bottles
  5. Smarties
  6. Necco Wafers
  7. Tootsie Rolls
  8. Mary Janes
  9. Good & Plenty
  10. Licorice

Most Popular Candy in the United States

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Twix
  3. Snickers
  4. Peanut M&M’s
  5. Gummi Bears
  6. M&M’s
  7. Butterfinger
  8. Kit Kat
  9. Almond Joy
  10. Sour Patch Kids

Most Popular Candy Bars in the United States

  1. M&Ms
  2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Snickers
  4. Hersey Bar
  5. Kit Kat
  6. Oh Henry!
  7. Baby Ruth
  8. 3 Musketeers
  9. Milky Way
  10. Butterfinger

Interested in learning coding and data skills? Check out our coding bootcamps to get started.

We Hack the Future

Transform Tech from Within with Software Engineering Bootcamps

Not sure if a bootcamp is your next step? Sign up for an info session or schedule a 1:1 Q&A with an advisor to learn about our programming.