Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Halloween Candy Showdown: Name-Brand vs Target vs Trader Joes

No-frills products are the way to go, especially when it comes to pantry staples, but there are some exceptions to the rule, like candy bars. It's really tempting to grab store branded sweets when filling your candy bowl, but are they worth it? 

I grabbed candy from Target's house brand, Trader Joe's house brand, and the real deal, who will come out on top? 


Visuals: How do they compare to the real bar?  

Favorite Day (Target): Close in size to the Fun Size Snickers, two uniform squiggle-shapes on the surface, and very similar looking chocolate coating but slightly less saturated in color. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Right away I can see that it's smaller, and it's bloomed. "Blooming" is when chocolate gets exposed to warm temperatures causing the cocoa butter to come to the surface. This gives it an ashy appearance, but isn't an indicator of the candy being bad or unable to be consumed. But if I gave a kid this, they (or their parents) might not understand that. It also has two arrow shapes on top, again fairly uniform, but of the three, this is definitely odd man out. This is also the only Wicked Good Trader Joe's bar to be consistently bloomed throughout the bag. All the other Wicked Good items seem fine. 


Original Snickers: A soft dense bite, nice chew from the nougat, slight pull from the caramel, saltiness from the diced peanuts, and sweet creamy milk chocolate. I like the level of salt and how that balances all the sweetness of the other ingredients, but I still prefer MilkyWay as my candybar of choice. 

Favorite Day (Target): It looked the part, but it is a completely different experience. Right away I want to say it's not bad, but it is definitely not going to pass for a Snickers. The bite is much lighter, more like a 3 Musketeers than the density of a Snickers. Probably because the nougat is more airy and dry,  kind of like the filling of a Reese's cup. (In terms of texture, not flavor.) I can see a thin layer of caramel, but it tastes more like a Cow Tale than the soft, stringy, caramel I would expect. There isn't as much salt present either, and the peanuts are finely diced. More like the peanuts that you find on the outside of a Drumstick ice cream in size, and in texture. Actually, I would liken this more so to a Drumstick Ice Cream Cone in terms of overall flavor, than a Snickers Bar. Not bad, but if it's a Snickers you're craving, this will definitely leave you wanting. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Much better caramel this time, and the flavor is more similar to the Snickers than the Favorite Day attempt, but it's still a drastically different experience overall. The caramel has a nice pull, the nougat is denser than Favorite Day but not as dense as the real deal, the peanut have that same ice cream topping-like chew, but the flavor is very peanut-forward, followed by milk chocolate and caramel, with a noticeable lack of salt.  

Verdict: Original reigns supreme, I wouldn't buy either store option again.



Favorite Day (Target): Quite similar is size, and color. There is an irregular top more similar to the original this time, and if I saw these unwrapped, I would definitely mistake it for the real thing.

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Smaller than the other two, and instead of a more natural looking top, this had 2-3 'S' shapes.


Original MilkyWay: Soft bite, decent caramel pull, bouncy chew from the fluffy nougat and overall a lovely burnt sugar caramel flavor. My favorite, although I prefer the Midnight version with dark chocolate to the original. But when it comes to classic candy bars, I'm a MilkyWay girl through-and-through. 

Favorite Day (Target): A much lighter bite, more like 3 Musketeers, and a slightly sugary grain to the nougat, the overall flavoring leans a lot sweeter with less prominence on the caramel. The main take away is sugary nougat, kind of like Circus Peanuts, but with a more neutral flavor and a milk chocolate coating. It's edible, but as a MilkyWay lover, I am very underwhelmed. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Much better texture this time around, the nougat is a bit denser than Favorite Day, but it practically melts in your mouth with little to no chew, and the flavor leans very sweet again, almost candy corn-levels of sweetness, with a visual amount of caramel that lacks flavor pay off. I like this more than the Target version, but neither holds a candle to the original. 

Verdict: Again, Original takes the top spot. 

3 Musketeers


Favorite Day (Target): Surprisingly, this time the Target bar is the biggest of the bunch. It also looks like the milk chocolate coating is less saturated in color than the original, and it has 2 'x'-shapes on the surface. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): And this time the Trader Joe's bar is larger than the original too! It's surface has zig-zag shapes, and it's a similar color to the Target version. Kind surprising that this time both knock-offs are actually bigger than the original  


Original 3 Musketeers: Very soft and sugary, the fluffy nougat allows for some texture but quickly dissolves into a sweet almost fudge-like experience mixed with the milk chocolate. It's lack of texture and cloying level of sweetness is why it ranks so low on my personal snacking list. If it had darker chocolate and a bit more salt, it might be more my speed, but as-is, this is the first bar I will trade away.  

Favorite Day (Target): Similar texture, maybe slightly denser, and a kind of malted milk or caramel flavoring is present with a bit more salt. I'm shocked. I like the Target version more than the original! It's also strange that this has caramel notes, when the other bars that were supposed to have caramel lacked in that department. But I'll take it. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Densest texture of the three, more of a pronounced chocolate flavoring, but much closer to the original than any other Wicked Good bar has come so far. I do think I like this more than the original as well, but the added saltiness from the Favorite Day Bar puts it in the lead. 

Verdict: Both Store-Brands held up well, but Favorite Day (Target) came out on top!

Wild Card

The last bars don't allow for a perfect 1-to-1 comparison, the Trader Joe's option is totally different, but I wanted to round out the review by including them, so here we go! 

Twix: Chocolate, caramel, cookie and milk chocolate: It's my #2 after MilkyWay. I love the crispy shortbread-like texture, warm buttery caramel, and sweet milk chocolate coating. A classic.    

Favorite Day (Target): Cookie, caramel and milk chocolate bar: This is the more comparable bar. It's significantly longer than the Fun Sized Twix, and the listed ingredients make this sound like it should be exactly the same, but it tastes completely different. It's sweeter, the cookie is more crumbly, more like store brand sandwich cookies tend to be, and the caramel lacks the buttery flavoring I love. It's not inedible by any means, but it's probably my least favorite candy bar in this entire experience. Which caught me off guard. 

Wicked Good (Trader Joe's): Caramel and wafer chocolate bar. What is this a comparison to? A bar I'm not familiar with? Because it looks like 100 Grand, but the inside is a wafer, similar to Kit-Kat. Taking a bite, if you inserted a Kit-Kat bar into a 100 Grand bar, you'd get this. But with a slightly more hazelnutty-leaning European-style chocolate flavoring than the standard milk chocolate in America. It's pretty darn good! I love the texture and all the crispiness, I just wish the caramel had a deeper flavor and a bit more salt. But I wouldn't kick it out of my candy bucket. 

Verdict: Twix beats Favorite Day (Target) hands down, but the Wicked Good Bar is in a League of it's own and well worth trying. 

Final Thoughts?

No frills works great for grocery staples, but not for Halloween candy. While there were some stand outs, like the Wicked Good caramel wafer bar, the majority of the store-branded candy left me wanting. 

Store branded sweets are tempting, but I'll stick to using coupons at the wholesale clubs to stock  up on the big name brand candy bags for my Trick-or-Treat buckets. Check out a sneak peek at my chocolate candy bowl contents below! 

Fans of this would also like:
 Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Bars or my 2022 Halloween Clearance Haul

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