Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Candy Smackdown 2011

The Arizona Republic just started a great contest called “Candy Smackdown 2011.”  If you’ve ever played, or seen, a March Madness bracket, this is set up exactly the same way, except instead of college basketball teams, it’s got a 64 different brand names of candy.  The slots aren’t seeded, but each candy faces off against one other candy in the first round, with the winner advancing to round 2.  There are four rounds, with the final two candies advancing to the “Candy Smackdown Championship” to decide the winner.

Voting for Round 1 has already started, and continues until Round 2 begins on October 10th.  The Scary Sixteen voting starts on 10/14, the Eerie Eight on 10/17, the Freaky Four on 10/19, and Championship Round voting begins on 10/21.

Check it out, and make your first round selections:  AZ Republic’s Candy Smackdown 2011.

Being the astute candy bracketologist that I am, I went ahead and completed my brackets in advance, all the way through the finals.  I’ll share the results of the final three rounds with you here.

We’ll see how I do against the voting public. 

The brackets are divided into four “regions:” Vampire, Ghost, Mummy and Witch.  Starting with the Vampire region, I have Peanut M&M’s grinding out a win against Nestle Crunch to advance.  In the Mummy regional, Heath will find itself too brittle and crumble to Butterfinger, which should just change its name to “Betterfinger,” because it is simply superior in every statistical category.  The Witch regional should produce a real barn-burner between Hershey’s Kisses and Milky Way, but I have Milky Way advancing by a peck.  Lastly, in the Ghost Region, Take 5 will see its Cinderella season come to an end at the hands of the vastly more experienced, and unsurpassed team chemistry, of Twix.  Many people already regard Take 5 as a poor man’s Twix, and in this contest we’ll see why.  They both have chocolate and caramel, but Twix’s cookie crunch will still manage to overpower the formidable combination of pretzel and peanut butter that Take 5 will throw at voters. 

Advancing to Freaky Four:
Peanut M&M’s
Milky Way

In the Freaky Four, it’s the Vampire and Mummy regions facing off, while the Ghost and Witch divisions do battle on the other side of the bracket.  Although I love Peanut M&M’s, I just can’t see them getting past Butterfinger.  It really comes down to this simple question:  peanuts or peanut butter?  M&M’s have the hard candy shell in their favor, but Butterfinger’s crispety, crunchety goodness will prove to be more than they can handle.  Butterfinger advances with a lop-sided victory, although the score will not indicate just how close this match-up really was.  On the other side, you’ve got Twix vs. Milky Way.  It seems like every year we’re talking about these two candies in the Freaky Four, and sometimes it’s a crap shoot as to who will win.  But I’m betting that Twix, fresh off its drubbing of upstart Take 5 will come into this match-up with a boatload of confidence and momentum, and we all know how important those two things are at this time of the year.  Venerable Milky Way, as potent on offense as any candy in the country, just doesn’t have an answer for Twix’s crunch, and will lose the battle in the backcourt of texture and chewing satisfaction.  Plus, the fact that you get two Twix bars in every full-size pack vs. Milk Way’s one, and that’s all she wrote in this clash of the Mars titans. 

Advancing to the Candy Smackdown Championship Round – 2011:
Twix v. Butterfinger

With the retirement of past champion Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from competition in this year’s bracket, those of us who follow candy smackdowns have been asking each other the same thing: who’s ready to take the next step and claim the candy championship mantle?  In a few short weeks, we will have our answer to this burning question.  My prediction is that the new champ of the candy world will be none other than . . . Butterfinger.  Yes, I know that Twix will be coming in with a full head of steam, but Butterfinger has that certain something that Twix can’t produce (I’m not talking about the Johnny-come-lately Twix hybrids here; it’s the original Twix bar that is competing for the title), and that is pure peanut butter flavor.  Other than Reese’s, nobody does peanut butter flavor better than a Butterfinger bar.  Even though Twix has the caramel and the cookie crunch, against Butterfinger the crunch equation actually works against them, because as it happens, nobody does crunch better than Butterfinger either (unless you get a stale bar, which turns chewy and sticky, and  can form molar caps in your mouth that may not melt until after the next Ice Age ).  But the Butterfinger in this tournament is ultra-fresh, and that means even the finest caramel ever confected by man might not be enough to overcome Butterfinger’s unnatural advantage.

Butterfinger is your 2011 Candy Smackdown Champs!!!

PS  All candy bracketologists bicker each year about the way the brackets were set up, who got in, who was left out, etc.  I try to be very tolerant of little discrepancies; after all, these are human beings making these decisions, and that means personal preferences and human error are naturally going to be a part of the process.  They get it right more often than not, so I try not to make a big deal out it when I personally disagree with the Candy Selection Committee.  But seriously, how can you put Kit Kat and Twix head-to-head in a first round match-up?!  Wake up the commissioner; that’s just insane!  Kit Kat deserves a much better fate than to have to face a juggernaut like Twix in the first round.  Put Kit Kat in any other bracket, and it cruises to a Scary Sixteen berth at least.  I’ve got Kit Kat ranked higher than 5 or 6 of the candies that are penciled in for the Eerie Eight!  And somehow the Committee thought it was appropriate to place them in a snack fodder position in the first round.  I honestly don’t know how the Selection Committee members can sleep at night, after making a decision like that.  All these candies can do is go out there and work their little wrappers off for the opportunity to compete.  They should not be arbitrarily punished with a seeding that doesn’t recognize the strength of their overall record, as well as their consistent quality and performance.  I am ashamed for you, NCAA (National Candy Athletics Association), you have disappointed many, many experts and fans alike with this bush-league move.   I can only hope that this kind of a mistake is not soon repeated, or the NCAA will start hearing some ugly questions about the integrity of the selection process.

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