1. Jelly beans, A Boy And His Blob: Trouble On Blobolonia (1989)
Sure, Halloween is supposed to be a spooky holiday, but for most of us, the scariest part of the holiday are the sugar-high hallucinations that result as a rush of glucose surges past the blood-brain barrier. In the realm of video games, candy often takes on similar energy-boosting, hallucinatory qualities, and nowhere is that more true than in the NES game A Boy And His Blob. The game is built around that most disappointing of trick-or-treating treasures, the jelly bean. You—a boy—feed jelly beans to your friend—a blob—who then takes on different forms depending on the flavor. A licorice jelly bean, for instance, turns the blob into a ladder, which is somewhat more handy than the traditional use of licorice jelly beans, which is to flick them at your little brother.
2. Animal-drugging hard candy, Little Nemo: The Dream Master (1990)
The more upstanding members of society discourage children from feeding candy to their pets. Little Nemo: The Dream Master is not one of the more upstanding members of society. The game not only endorses the practice of forced human-on-animal sugar ingestion, it promises an enchanting reward: Feed the unsuspecting beast enough sweets, and it will enter some sort of half-coma fugue state—during which you can slip into its very skin.
3. Chewing gum that’s learning to swim, Captain Novolin (1992)
The ostensibly educational Captain Novolinstars a diabetic superhero forced to do battle with an army of giant junk food aliens. What happens when you send a man whose superpower is “having diabetes” against an overwhelming sugary menace? Well, he’s immediately mutilated by power-walking candy bars and helicoptering Red Vines. At one point, Novolin takes to the water, perhaps to teach children about the dangers of nautical diabetes. But even here he isn’t safe. The threat? Chewing gum packets the size of a man, which are in the water but cannot swim, grasping their life preservers and paddling gingerly towards him. Every superhero gets the supervillain they deserve—and for Captain Novolin, that villain is soggy gum.
4. Snuckey’s Pecan Candies, Sam & Max Hit The Road (1993)
In the classic adventure game Sam & Max Hit The Road, Snuckey’s pecan candies are an item that Sam buys from a roadside minimart, even though he hates them. He later gifts the ill-informed purchase to a new acquaintance—a grating, sedentary mole man who gives Sam the keys to a beautiful circus freak’s personal trailer in return. That’s an awfully good return on a box of sugar-coated nuts. Snuckey’s is, of course, based on the real convenience chain Stuckey’s, which sells a variety of pecan candy. But more than homage, the candy in the game taps into the rich American tradition of impulsively buying famous treats we don’t even like, and then passing them off to a person we like even less.
5. Skittles, Darkened Skye (2002)
The mediocre fantasy action game Darkened Skye hides a couple of secrets behind its generic box art. For one, it’s surprisingly, sarcastically funny. It’s also entirely about Skittles. Not “you collect colored things that look like Skittles.” Not “you occasionally run in to some Skittles.” It’s about Skittles like this: “Once, in a distant age, the world was rich with rainbows, and Skittles rained from the sky. But the evil lord Necroth stole the Skittles and banished rainbows from the land. Use the magical powers of the remaining Skittles to defeat Necroth and return Skittles to the land!” This is the actual plot of Darkened Skye. No wonder it’s so sarcastic.
6. M&M’s, too many games about M&M’s (2000-2009)
You deserve to know the dark truth about your society, so here it is: for nearly a decade, clandestine organizations have worked from the shadows on at least seven video games about M&M’s. They started off cautiously, copying the popular Crash Bandicoot games wholesale while adding chocolate and levels designed to teach math (M&M’s: The Lost Formula). Then they got bolder, releasing basically the same game again but taking the math parts out (M&M’s: Shell Shocked). More recently, they have gone even further, releasing miserable works about candies racing go-karts and candies playing competitive beach games. All of this has happened in your lifetime. No one knows how deep the conspiracy goes.
7. Rare Candy, Pokémon Red and Blue (1998)
Only a handful of these candies exist in each Pokémon game. They’re littered around the world, hidden between plants and in piles of rubble—not the most sanitary snacks. If you have the distinct lack of morals required to feed one of these probably plague-ridden sweets to your Pokémon, they’re apparently tasty enough to instantly boost the animals’ powers, putting you one step closer to the monster’s next evolution. The true legacy of the rare candy, though, has to be the legendary “rare candy trick.” In the original Pokémon titles, Red and Blue, it’s possible to trick the game into duplicating any item by exploiting a glitch. Suddenly, every day can be Halloween!
8. Rock candy, EarthBound (1995)
What is it with Nintendo role-playing games and candy-based glitches? There might only be three of these power-up candies spread throughout this quirky cult classic, but you only need one to start pumping up your squad of psionic (except Jeff, of course) children. The trick here involves pouring sugar packets onto the rock candy to enhance its strengthening properties. Even though you’d think that would just make those kids hyperactive for an hour or two and leave them sleepy, clutching their stomachs. In fact, that sounds just like an EarthBound scene.
9. Dream Fluff, Psychonauts (2005)
These cotton candy-like sweets are the treat of choice for the kids of Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. According to the shopkeep in the main lodge, who has apparently cornered the Dream Fluff market, they’re “delicious, nutritious, and cheap!” More importantly, they’re chock full of concentrated mental health, just the thing that fledgling psychic secret agents need when they find themselves in a tight spot.
10. Penter’s Natural, Castlevania: Portrait Of Ruin (2006)
Castlevania has come a long way since vampire hunter Simon Belmont was smashing open walls in the hopes of discovering a nondescript, health-restoring hunk of meat amid the wreckage. The culinary delights in more recent Castlevania games are far more specific, weirdly so. Castlevania: Portrait Of Ruin likely enjoys the honor of being the only video game to satirize Werther’s Originals—the hard caramel candies found in nursing-home candy bowls across the country. The game is even savvy enough to reference the candy’s popularity among the olds: The candy appears when you defeat decrepit zombies, and it comes with a winking description text that bills Penter’s as a “candy that’s been popular for generations.”
11. Lollipop, Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)
Halloween candy is usually an ancillary benefit from dressing up and walking around a neighborhood. In Lollipop Chainsaw, candy is necessary fuel to take down hordes of zombies that have infested a sleepy town. Juliet, who comes from a long line of zombie hunters, collects stray lollies scattered around the corners of her high school, which can be used to refill her life bar (a life bar that, in turn, takes the form of a long string of lollipops). There is nothing fun about Juliet’s candy obsession; it’s purely functional, keeping her alive long enough to decapitate a few more of the undead.
12. Gum, The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare (1992)
Even while he’s asleep, Bart Simpson is a hooligan. In Bart’s Nightmare, he collects street gum precariously placed around Springfield, trapping grandmas and evil, sentient basketballs in his bubbles to turn them into musical notes. (Hey, it’s a dream.) This candy is his only weapon against the nightmarish hordes of bullies and jazz saxophones, so unlike his waking habits of consuming as much sweetness as possible—recall the episode where he makes a Squishee entirely out of syrup—Bart is forced to ration this gum for the duration of his sleepytime.
13. Invincibility lollipop, Kirby’s Dream Land (1991)
Kirby’s a hungry little bastard, eating up his enemies and stealing their powers in the process. In his first adventure, he doesn’t snack on swordsmen and suddenly get fencing skills. His only power-ups come from eating a selection of special items scattered about Dream Land. A plate of curry lets Kirby belch fire. Eating a mint leaf lets him fly indefinitely. The ultimate gustatory prize, though, is the lollipop. Kirby only finds a couple of these star-covered treats, but when he does, he’s granted invincibility, letting him ram through enemies like they’re not even there. In a game about a puffball who can eat anything and everything, only candy makes him unstoppable.
14. Valuable Candy, Animal Crossing (series)
Part of what makes Animal Crossing such a relaxing good time is that you get to celebrate holidays without any of the stress. Portia The Dog won’t try to make out with you on New Year’s, Frobert The Frog won’t get trashed at Christmas and start talking about how Jesus wasn’t even born in December. Halloween is different, though. That holiday is dangerous. There’s a dude that comes to town named Jack the Pumpkin who’s got a jack-o’-lantern for a head—like Linus’ mythical Great Pumpkin made real. He’ll give you gaudy jack-o’-lantern themed furniture so you can make your house look like John Waters’, but only in exchange for candy that can be purchased from town merchant/tyrant Tom Nook. The problem is that on Halloween, all the other townsfolk are dressed like Jack, and if you talk to them, they demand your precious sweets. Refuse, and they trick you but good, randomly transforming one of your goods permanently. Animal Crossing: A place where your clothes are in peril of being transformed into a “Moldy Shirt” if you don’t dole out candy.
15. Choc-O-Lent Dream candy bar, Deus Ex (2000)
In the paranoid future of Deus Ex, shadowy forces have seized control of the world, using advanced science like nanotechnology and biowarfare to spread their tendrils into every aspect of society. The pernicious influence of the Illuminate even extends, heartbreakingly, into the innocent world of candy. Sure, you can satiate your sweet tooth with a Choco-O-Lent Dream bar, but with every bite you lose some of your humanity. In case you missed the sidelong reference to a certain Charlton Heston sci-fi flick, the bar’s label hits it home: “Choc-O-Lent Dream. It’s chocolate! It’s people! It’s both!”
16. Yoshi Candy, Super Mario RPG (1996)
Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars may be the weirdest of all the Mario games, which is quite a feat considering that this is a series that began with a Brooklyn plumber committing turtle genocide in a fantasy land ruled by mushrooms. Super Mario RPG is notable for its complete lack of internal logic. Take Yoshi Candy for example. Yoshi Candy, when used, partly heals a member of your party. In order to get a piece of Yoshi Candy, though, you have to first travel to Yoshi Island, where dinosaurs spend all their time competing in rhythmic foot races. Then you’ve got to compete in the races to get Yoshi Cookies, which you toss out in battle to summon Yoshi himself. Problem is, Yoshi can’t always eat the bad guys, and when that happens, you get a piece of Yoshi Candy as a consolation prize. This candy is more setup than punchline.
17. Chocolate bar, Secret Of Mana (1993)
Secret Of Mana is more whimsical than most of the other role-playing games of its era. In Final Fantasy VI, you’re not going to see Santa Claus showing up in the middle of the quest to tell you you’re doing a good job. But you do in Mana. The game’s cure-alls embody this freewheeling spirit. Rather than Potions and Ether to heal your life and magical abilities, sweets do the job. Regular candy will heal minor wounds, but a bar of chocolate will do you wonders. It’s just like those “Grab a Snickers” commercials, except with fairies and miniature flying dragons.
18. Human-sized chocolate bar, Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (2011)
All of the characters in Akira Toriyama’s beloved manga Dragon Ball Z have remarkably destructive powers, mostly in the form of lethal energy beams or blindingly fast martial arts moves. Entire planets are destroyed with ease, and this lively cartoon violence smoothly translates into video game form. Majin Buu, pink terror of the galaxy, is one of the less impressive specimens in the Dragon Ball world. This overweight clown of a supervillain isn’t the owner of a world-killing laser or an evil genius. Buu instead turns his enemies into candy, which he then eats and absorbs into his person. Goofy and effective, if fattening.
19. Illness-inducing sour candy, Viva Piñata (2006)
When it comes to birthday parties, piñatas are the only decoration that matters. Is there another instance of sanctioned, completely unrestrained childhood bat violence? Plus, this aggression is rewarded with sugary internal organs, falling to the ground in an offal pile of Smarties and Now & Laters. Viva Piñata requires you to grow a community of piñatas, using a variety of nourishing sweets including joy, romance, life and sour. These last have a predictably deleterious effect on your piñata farm, not unlike the first time you ate a sour Atomic Warhead and your mouth nearly turned itself inside out and left you for dead.
20. Sour Patch Kids, World Gone Sour (2012)
Promotional food tie-in games can be depressingly amusing. (Can any of us forget the Domino’s Pizza-financed Yo! Noid era?) Needless to say, it’s all an incredibly cynical attempt to get kids to somehow ingest even more diabetes gateway foods than they already do. World Gone Sour, a Sour Patch Kids-related game, is only the latest in this dubious American tradition. You play a green Sour Patch Kid, accidentally tossed into a trash can. This abandoned candy spends the game trying to fulfill his destiny and get eaten by someone. Now, forget for a moment the health hazards of eating sweets fished out of the garbage. The goal of this game is to move heaven and earth to be digested in the stomach of some bratty 10-year-old? Sometimes when you win, you lose.
21-plus. Creepy Treats, Costume Quest (2010)
This adventure to save the world’s candy from goblins could have gone with generic standbys like candy corn, but Costume Quest outdoes itself with a smorgasbord of made-up candies. There are 54 different types of Creepy Treats in the game, each one depicted on collectible cards found in the game. In the grand tradition of Costume Quest’s studio, Double Fine, many of the candies are pretty funny—Candy Hair, Wood Chips, Unicorn Pellets, Mice Crispy Treats, and Jelly Has-Beens among them.