Virginia is for lovers of Hot Tamales.

That’s a candy, which I had never heard of until reading the list on that ranked the most popular Halloween candies in every state. The No. 1 seller in the commonwealth is, as mentioned, Hot Tamales, which sounds like some kind of joke candy you’d see in a Funny or Die video.

“All the flavor of a Mexican street food favorite in convenient bite-sized candy form!”

I mean, I like tamales and I like candy. But I also like Greek spaghetti and ice cream. Doesn’t mean I’m going to ladle olives and pepperoncini on top of my bowl of Cookies and Cream. Look, just because it worked for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups doesn’t mean two great tastes will always taste great together.

I know, I know. Hot Tamales aren’t REAL tamales. They’re a hot candy, which can be OK. But I am still surprised to see Hot Tamales as Virginia’s most popular Halloween candy when there are so many other superior options. Hershey bars, anyone? Twix, Nestle Crunch? Chocolate is still legally available in Virginia, right? Basically, anything chocolate is better than Hot Tamales. Maybe they should come up with chocolate-covered Hot Tamales.

Even more distressing is to learn that I am a Floridian at heart. That’s because Florida loves Snickers and so do I. A measure of solace comes with the knowledge that Snickers bars are the No. 2 choice in Virginia, which were No. 1 a year ago before being knocked off, followed by Tootsie Pops. (You can see the state by state rankings at or just Google “favorite Halloween candies”).

Should a person base where they live on what the most popular Halloween candy happens to be in that state? Is a fierce Wyoming winter worth it just because Reese’s Cups is the most popular candy in the state? Do I really want to move to Mississippi because they like 3 Musketeers? Or, come to think of it, for any other reason?

People have moved for worse reasons, I guess. Home prices, crime rates, schools and libraries are factors, sure, but maybe not more important than candy when you’re thinking of settling down.

I will be doing my part this Halloween to unseat Hot Tamales as the Virginia’s top candy. Sic Semper Tamales, I say! My family will hand out hundreds of miniature chocolates on our street, which gets about 800 trick-or-treaters every Halloween. My block is like the Golden Corral of candy.

I asked my resident trick-or-treater — who, despite being one year away from being a bona fide high schooler still plans to head out in costume Halloween night — for some candy advice. Like me, she prefers chocolates (although I will also happily consume sour candies and chewy stuff like Tootsie Rolls).

The minis are OK, she said. You get variety that way, and sometimes you get multiple pieces at one stop (but not at our house, where the one-piece rule is strictly enforced as a way for the in-house statistics geeks to keep count of trick-or-treaters every year. We chart Halloween visits the way economists read leading economic indicators. In our house, gross national product and consumer confidence are determined by how many Special Darks are left at the end of the night).

However, there’s nothing like getting a full-size candy bar, she said. She claims she knows a house one street over that hands out regulation-sized Hershey bars. Maybe this year I will buy a package of large candy bars and try to surreptitiously drop them into the bags of unsuspecting kids, like Willie Wonka handing out golden tickets.

If you have any Halloween traditions, favorite candies or trick-or-treat stories and tips, send them to me at In the meantime, I will trade you my pack of Hot Tamales for that Mr. Goodbar.

Ralph Berrier Jr. has worked at The Roanoke Times since 1993, was the paper’s music reporter from 2000-2007 and he currently writes the Dadline parenting column and is a general assignment features reporter.

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