We Tried 14 Fancy Candies Against Their Brand-Name Twins & Here's What Won

As kids we may have thought candy came straight from Willy Wonka's factory, but now we know the truth: it comes from the drugstore. Those pharmacies around the corner have us covered with entire aisles devoted to the classic brands we grew up with. We're talking affordable treats that you might find in any post-Halloween stash: Twix, Starburst, Swedish Fish — to name just a few. And although we love the candy aisle for its sweet-nostalgic convenience, we also live in the era of artisanal everything. Local bakeries and start-up candy suppliers now make small-batch takes on some of the sweets flavors we grew up with, using high-quality, expensive ingredients and topping chocolate bars off with finishing touches like flaky French sea salt.

Even though artisanal candy has a much steeper price tag — averaging $1.23 more an ounce — coupled with a more limited availability than our usual brand-name go-tos, we couldn't help but wonder if the attention to detail and quality of these treats might make them worth a splurge once in a while. So, we decided to hold a blind taste-test challenge in which we pitted our favorite chocolate bars, taffies, gummies, and fruit chews against their new-age, pricier counterparts

Click ahead to see which specialty treats are worth the occasional investment and which old-school brands still can't be beat.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Chocolate Bar With Peanuts, Caramel & Nougat



Name Brand: Snickers
A milk chocolate bar filled with nougat, caramel, and peanuts.
Price: $2.39 (3.29 oz. bar)

Artisanal Brand: Liddabit Sweets "The Snack'r"
A dark chocolate bar filled with roasted peanuts, caramel, and chocolate nougat.
Price: $9.99 (4 oz. bar)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Snickers (Left)
Compact with a dense and balanced filling of crunchy and smooth textures and salty and sweet flavors.

"The Snack'r" (Right)
Had a nice crunchy, dark-chocolate shell with a much higher nougat and lower peanut ratio than the classic — overall was more sweet than salty and had a lighter feel.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal bar costs a total of $7.60 ($1.77 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
We'd 100% splurge for "The Snack'r" on a special occasion — as far as gourmet chocolate bars go, it was tasty with a nice fluffy texture — but it wasn't a true substitute for the salty-sweet flavor and peanutty crunch of a classic Snickers.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Peanut Butter Cups



Name-Brand: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Milk cups chocolate filled with peanut butter.
Price: $2.49 (4 cups)

Artisanal Brand: Jessie's Nutty Cups
Milk chocolate cups filled with homemade, small-batch peanut butter.
Price: $16 (8 cups)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Reese's (Left)
Smooth and thin milk chocolate coating that melts in your mouth with a sugary peanut butter filling.

Jessie's (Right)
The milk chocolate and peanut butter ratios were thicker here than in the drugstore's cups — the peanut butter filling also tasted a lot less sweet.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal cups cost a total of $13.51 more ($1.38 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
Depends. Our team was split with the majority siding on Reese's novelty flavor — I, on the other hand, was a fan of the less sugary and more natural-tasting cups. So if you prefer a natural peanut butter flavor that tastes like you just whipped it up from scratch, instead of a the smoother classic variety, AND you don't mind shelling out extra bucks for a small-batch product, then Jessie's can be worth the splurge.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Fish-Shaped Gummies



Name-Brand: Swedish Fish
Chewy gummy candy made in Canada with artificial fruit flavors and coloring.
Price: $1.99 (3.1 oz. box) 0.642

Artisanal Brand: Sugarfina "#1 Swedish Fish"
Chewy gummy candy made in Sweden with all natural fruit flavors and coloring.
Price: $7.50 (3.7 oz. box)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Swedish Fish (Bottom)
Tasted more artificial and had a more compact texture and tougher chew consistency.

Sugarfina (Top)
Tasted juicier, thicker, and very chewy with an overall more natural fruit flavor.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal fish cost a total of $5.51 more ($1.39 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
Absolutely. Sugarfina's gummy fish sourced straight from Sweden beat out the cheaper drugstore option on both taste and texture fronts — so if we were in the mood to treat ourselves, these "#1 Swedish Fish" certainly live up to their name.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Peppermint Patties



Name-Brand: York Peppermint Patties
Peppermint confection covered in dark chocolate.
Price: $1.58 (2.8 oz./2 patties) 0.56428

Artisanal Brand: Williams Sonoma Peppermint Cremes
Peppermint fondant covered in bittersweet chocolate.
Price: $28.95 (16 oz./48 cremes)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
York (Left)
Very intense initial peppermint taste and aftertaste with not too much sweetness from the chocolate — had a more compact and thinner patty feel.

Williams Sonoma (Right)
A sweeter chocolate coating with a creamier, fluffier, and more subtle peppermint filling.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal patties cost a total of $27.71 more ($1.25 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
For true peppermint patty fans, yes; Although the total cost is nearly a whopping $30 more with the artisanal patty, the higher quality of taste and texture on top of the price per ounce breakdown makes Williams Sonoma's Peppermint Cremes worth the splurge.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Gumdrops



Name-Brand: DOTS Gumdrops
Gummy candy made with assorted artificially fruit flavors (e.g. cherry, strawberry, lemon, lime, and orange).
Price: $1.99 (6.05 oz. box) 0.3289

Artisanal Brand: Quin Gumdrops
Gummy candy made with sea salt and assorted, real fruit puree flavors (e.g. cherry, strawberry blackberry-tangerine, strawberry-lemon, smoked cola, and cherry cola).
Price: $12 (5.3 oz. box)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
DOTS (Left)
An enjoyable soft and chewy consistency with a strongly sweet, artificial fruit flavor.

Quin (Right)
A more mild and unique fruit flavor flavor with a sugar-coated gelatinous texture — not as dense or chewy as the classic variety.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal gumdrops cost a total of $10.01 more ($1.94 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
Not if you are looking for a traditional-tasting gumdrop. Quin's, while tasty and unique, are much more artisanal and less of a true substitute for the more classic DOTS.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Chocolate Bar With Biscuits & Caramel



Name-Brand: Twix
A milk chocolate bar filled with a layer of caramel atop a biscuit-cookie.
Price: $2.39 (3.02 oz.) 0.7913

Artisanal Brand: Mayana "Fix Bar"
A 66% custom dark chocolate bar blend filled with a layer of fleur de sel caramel atop a vanilla-bean shortbread.
Price: $8 (3.5 oz.)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Twix (Left)
Ideal ratio of crunchy cooky to chewy caramel with a very sweet and slightly salty flavor.

Mayana (Right)
Much thicker in size with larger overall cookie to caramel ratio — had a more complex and natural sweetness than the drugstore variety.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal bar costs a total of $5.61 more ($1.49 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
Again, as a standalone specialty chocolate bar, Mayana's "Fix Bar" can take our money and run — but as a replacement for a classic Twix, it doesn't stand a chance. Part of the reason we love a Twix bar so much is based on its slimmer size and tighter ingredient texture.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Fruit Chews



Name-Brand: Starburst Fruit Chews
A soft taffy candy in assortment of fruit-flavors like strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime).
Price: $1.19 (2.07 oz.) 0.5748

Artisanal Brand: Quin "Dreams Come Chews"
Chewy fruit-flavored candy. Flavors include: cherry, strawberry, tangerine, lemon, lime, and pineapple-coconut
Price: $8.50 (4.2 oz.)
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Starburst (Left)
A more compact and solid chewy texture with a tarter fruit flavor.

Quin (Right)
Very chewy and sticky with a creamier, almost buttery texture and a sweet and juicy fruit flavor.

Price/Size Difference
The artisanal fruit chews cost a total of $7.31 more ($1.45 more per ounce).

Worth The Splurge?
Yes and no. Classic Starbursts are hard to beat on the texture front — so although we were taken with Quin's caramel-like quality and punchy fruit flavors, they were all-in-all a bit messy to unwrap and eat or tote around. That being said, we'd still splurge on a bag of Dream Chews any damn day. They were dreamy AF.
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