When I was a teenager and had braces, I followed the rules. I didn’t eat caramel, drink soda, or chew gum. For me, the gum part was the toughest. As someone who hates bad breath, I would chew gum regularly to keep mine in check (when I didn’t have a toothbrush around). When I got the metal put in my mouth, I switched from gum to something else: hard candy.
Over the two years I had braces, I sucked on a lot of hard candies. I tried a wide variety and developed both favorites and ones that I will never put in my mouth again. Tonight I give you my countdown for my top five favorite hard candies.
5. Jolly Ranchers – Perhaps the most popular type of hard candy, Jolly Ranchers barely crack my list. With a wide variety of flavors to choose from and a long lasting staying power in your mouth, Jolly Ranchers pack a great value. However, for me, “Ranchers” never really offered any type of reward for sucking them until they dissolved or until you could bite down on them. You weren’t left with a fresh mouth or something in the middle to enjoy. Also, Jolly Ranchers carry with them a reputation for being a cheap candy, the type of treat that you don’t want dropped in your bag at Halloween. I only want the premium stuff!
4. Brachs Strawberry Filled Hard Candy – This is a classic. Who doesn’t remember these candies with a strawberry decorated wrapper hanging out in candy bowls at the homes of our grandparents? Bigger than Jolly Ranchers, they also contained something that my #5 candy lacks: a filling! After you sucked on your Brachs candy for long enough, you could bite down and enjoy the gooey strawberry middle. The shell was pleasant, the middle was delicious, and the strawberry taste that stayed around in your mouth was enjoyable.
3. Atomic Fireballs – At the time I was enjoying hard candy, Atomic Fireballs posed a fun challenge to me. I don’t know if the candy would still burn my taste buds today, but 15 years ago it was tough for me to keep it in my mouth the whole time. That cinnamon flavor sizzled my mouth but the reward at the end was worth it: fresh breath.
2. Brachs Peppermint Candy – When it comes to the ultimate staple of hard candies, this is it. If you look up “hard candy” in the dictionary, I am pretty sure a photo of the disc shaped red and white striped candy accompanies the definition. During my years wearing braces, when no one was watching, I would take a handful of peppermint candies out of the baskets at restaurants. For me, the peppermint candy substituted for gum perfectly. It was long enough lasting and it left your mouth with that clean, cool taste. You could also suck the candy at your own pace because it wasn’t so hard that it would break your teeth if you chomped down too early nor would it disintegrate if you wanted to make it last for a while.
1. A&W Root Beer Candy – Are you surprised? Enjoying A&W candies softened two of my braces restrictions. First, it obviously substituted for gum. Second, it let me kind of enjoy soda. If I remember correctly (or maybe it was just in my head), the wrapper said that actual A&W Root Beer was in the candy. I imagine it was probably just artificial flavoring but the vision that the soda was actually “poured” inside the middle of the candy made me enjoy it that much more. Besides my wife who hates root beer, who doesn’t like anything that is root beer-flavored? To this day, A&W Root Beer candy is still my favorite.
Hopefully I don’t have anyone out there who loves sour candy. As you can see from my list, Warheads did not make the list and that was by design…I hate sour candy. But other than that, the list looks pretty representative of the hard candy world. What do you think? Don’t Blink.