A Semi-Microeconomic Analysis of Halloween Treats

Of all the many things I love in this world, two that rank near the top of the list are discovering delicious taste combinations, and finding ways to make sense of my life through the use of charts and graphs. It’s almost Halloween, and I spent 20 minutes (and an undisclosed number of dollars) in the corresponding candy section of Target this weekend. To excuse that behavior to myself, I made the whole thing into a graphical microeconomics project. Sort of.

First, let me get this out of the way right now: What you need to know is that there has never been nor will there ever be a Halloween candy treat that outranks the combination of two M&Ms and one piece of candy corn placed in one’s mouth simultaneously. I discovered this recipe (“recipe”) accidentally, while inhaling one of the trail mix bags my tennis captain’s mom would bring to my college team’s matches. I mostly sat on the bench. I had a lot of time for candy-testing.

Two M&Ms and one candy corn (henceforth referred to as 2M1C) is perfect because the colors are nice together and the textures complement one another and it’s chocolate-y but not TOO chocolate-y and it makes you feel like you’re not eating much even when you have one dozen servings.

Microeconomically-speaking, 2M1C are perfect complements, which are goods that HAVE to be consumed together, in a set ratio. Graphed, their relationship would look like this:

The lines’ corners are the acceptable options for consumers. There isn’t even an option to eat them in other ratios, because that would be ridiculous. 2M1C is a perfect formula. That’s why it’s called 2M1C.

But there is a whole world of candy out there, and I wanted to find other advantageous combinations. So my friends and I ate some strange stuff on a study break and I made them describe their taste sensations to me. The field notes are as follows.

The Good:

1 Sour Patch Kid + 1 “finger full” of Grape Pop Rocks

This combination received unanimous support (3-0) because it was sour and amazing. My friend Rylee rightly noted that you couldn’t really taste the Pop Rocks but that they “added fun,” which must be true because all of us started giggling upon eating it. It was embarrassing. I must caution, too, that the combination may cause an excess supply of saliva. Otherwise, A+.

1 Milk Dud + 1 Mike & Ike (any flavor)

The rationale here was that mixing a chocolate candy with a non-chocolate candy would work out as well as it did in the case of 2M1C, and mostly I was right: this is good. Maybe not 2M1C good, but pretty good. It pretty much tastes like that last perfect bite of a Tootsie Pop.

1 Gummy worm + Nerds

This is the poor lady’s Nerds Rope. I discovered that if you put a whole gummy worm in your mouth and pull it back out again (I know, so inappropriate), you can stick the worm in a pile of Nerds and they sort of stick. I know it sounds gross but it’s going back in your mouth anyway, right? So just eat it with the Nerds on it and be like, “yum,” because it is delicious and gummy and crunchy.

2 Cheddar Goldfish + 1 Mini Oreo

I realize that neither of these items are candy, but they ARE orange and black, which makes them seasonally appropriate. And, as it turns out, weirdly tasty together. You know how when you eat something salty, you want something sweet right after? And vice versa? This combination cuts out the middle man. You should put a bowl of them in your foyer right now.

2 Mini Oreos + 1 Halloween Chocolate-Covered Pretzel

You guys, my grocery store’s been selling these orange-befrostinged chocolate covered pretzels for like three weeks and honestly, I’m dying. Did you know that ONE chocolate pretzel is 50 calories?! How does that even make sense? But anyway, definitely eat two mini Oreos and one chocolate pretzel together, over and over. It’s sort of a lot to fit in your mouth at once (…) but in a good way, you know?

The Bad:

2 Hot Tamales + 2 Sour Patch Kids

This was kind of a surprise because it sounds good in theory, but it was just too much gummy-ness all at once, I guess. It was hard to chew, spicy AND sour, and generally unpleasant.

2 Junior Mints + 1 Candy Corn

This was horrible. It was bad minty slop. Never do this.

2 Goldfish + 1 Twix

This was, I think, a shock-value move made by my friend Marie, who declared that the combination tasted “like meat…like beef or something.” This combination was subsequently declared a public bad, which is an economic good that negatively affects the well-being of its consumers. Air pollution is one real example. Public bads are so bad that you typically have to pay to get rid of them. That’s sort of how we feel about Twix and Goldfish together.

Conclusions

One important thing I learned is that eating candy has diminishing marginal utility, which means that the amount of utility (satisfaction) gained by eating it decreases over time, until eventually you actually start to become worse off than you were before.

Sure, putting a fistful of candy in your mouth is great the first time you do it, and it’s pretty great the second and third times too. But on the seventh? We all sort of wanted to die. My stomach felt … minty? I don’t know, it was weird.

Anyway, do you guys want some candy? I will send you all of it, except for the M&Ms and the candy corn, which I still really need.

Katie Heaney remembers learning about probability using M&Ms in the 5th grade. Those were the days.

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