We might look like grown-ups, or some approximation thereof. We might even “adult” on a regular basis, comparing car-insurance rates, getting in our daily steps and chuckling at dad jokes. Some of us even raise other, smaller humans pretty well.

But wave a bag of orange-and-black bagged Halloween candy in front of our noses, and we’ll regress to our childhood selves faster than you can scream “trick or treat!” There’s something primal about the bond formed with those prized bits of sugar back when the prospect of Halloween candy brought on the sensation of pure bliss instead of anxiety (did we remember to grab a bag at the grocery store? And how many steps equal a mini candy bar?).

Here are our staff’s favorite candies, beloved even though we’re more likely these days to be buying them in bulk or filching from our kids’ stash (don’t tell!) than collecting in a plastic jack-o-lantern of our own.

Mini Twix

When I buy a giant bag of candy — or two — to give away at Halloween, I always search for the one that offers mini Twix, my ne plus ultra of Halloween candy. And, until last year, when my 6-year-old realized that the combination of milk chocolate, caramel and shortbread cookie is nothing short of amazing, I would also raid his candy loot, squirreling away the Twix for myself. Now that he’s on board Team Caramel, we divvy the Twix up, fair and square. Olga Massov

Mounds

Mounds were never the most popular Halloween candy, so on the rare instance one dropped into my jack-o-lantern bucket, it felt like winning the lottery. As an admittedly atypical kid, I adored the combination of dark chocolate and chewy, sweet coconut, which reminded me of macaroons, another favorite treat. As a grown-up, my devotion still stands. And, please, we’ll have no nuts to distract from the pure coconut bliss. Someone else can have the Almond Joy. Becky Krystal

Starburst

Chocolate bars might be the most popular kids at the Halloween party, but I’m partial to the overlooked fruity, chewy delights that are Starburst candies. This little love note to these juicy, molar-sticking treats comes with an emphatic asterisk, though: I will only consume the strawberry and cherry varieties. Lemon and orange can go pound sand as far as I’m concerned. (Which apparently is also the candy preference of former president Donald Trump?) When they’re offered up loose, you can see what color you’re grabbing, but those two-fer packages carry an element of risk, since one might end up with the dreaded citrus flavors. But, hey, Halloween is for living on the edge, right? Emily Heil

Justin’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut butter cups are the perfect candy. I built my Halloween obsession as a kid on Reese’s, of course, but as an adult I discovered Justin’s, which uses Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate (and sells varieties that include almond butter, white and dark chocolate). I switched teams, although I won’t pass up a Reese’s if somebody else is buying. My preferred size are minis because I just don’t want to eat an entire — oh, who am I kidding? Thankfully, these are foil-wrapped, because the foil forces me to take at least a few seconds of “rest” before I eat another one, thereby allowing me to indulge in the fantasy that I’m not actually gorging. It’s a trick and a treat, all in one. Joe Yonan

Milk Caramel Sea Salt Tiny Tony’s

The combination of salted caramel and chocolate can’t be beat. I try to support local chocolatiers when I’m buying chocolate for myself, but whenever I see Tiny Tony’s on the shelf, I’ll pick up a bag. They’re just the right size, and always hit the spot. G. Daniela Galarza

Hershey’s Special Dark Minis

I know. I didn’t really like candy as a kid, and my hatred of milk chocolate started very early, so I liked those tiny Hershey’s Special Dark mini bars. Trick-or-treating meant all the other kids would hand over their Special Dark minis, which nobody else wanted, and I would hand over almost everything else (I kept my parents’ favorites and a couple tolerable Twix and Mini M&M’s). A win-win situation for all the little ghouls involved! I maintain that every chocolate candy would be better if it was dark chocolate (case in point: dark chocolate Kit Kats are incredible). I still don’t really like candy, though sour watermelon gummies have grown on me. Kari Sonde

Butterfinger

I love layered, crispy desserts, so maybe that’s why this bar is such a favorite. The inside of the bar is made up of whisper-thin layers of peanut-buttery-sugary candy that’s coated in a thin chocolate shell. Butterfingers, which were first produced in the 1920s, underwent a recipe change in 2018 which, among other modifications, removed hydrogenated oils. To me, they taste better than ever. At Halloween, I eat the “fun size” because that’s a perfect serving of the rich candy. Bonus: The classic bars are gluten-free, but there are many other permutations of the candy. Ann Maloney

Baby Ruth

As a Midwestern kid, I learned a few hard lessons about Halloween candy exchange rates. Chocolate bars were the dominant currency. To get your hands on, say, a 3 Musketeers, Milky Way or (my fave) Baby Ruth bar, you had to be willing to trade two or three fun-size packages of Skittles, Life Savers or Smarties. My living room-education in Halloween economics only reinforced the idea that chocolate was the gold standard. All these years later, I’m still a sucker for a Baby Ruth, allegedly named for President Grover Cleveland’s deceased daughter, though that was likely a clever ruse to avoid paying royalties to the Sultan of Swat. Folks frequently compare Baby Ruths to Snickers, but the former has a different architecture altogether: The peanuts in a Baby Ruth bar are not chopped and suspended in caramel; they’re whole and draped in chocolate, like a peanut cluster riding atop a cloud of caramel-encased nougat, all gnarly and irresistible. Tim Carman

Fun-size Snickers

I’m not a huge candy person, but when I do indulge, I love this combination of nougat, caramel and peanuts sheathed in milk chocolate that’s been around for nearly a century. While there are other versions with almonds, hazelnuts or crunchy peanut butter that I certainly wouldn’t turn down, it’s the classic version that holds the key to my heart — and stomach. I love having a bag of the “fun-size” bars around during this time of year as the perfect two-bite treat for a midafternoon pick-me-up to help me power through the rest of the day. Aaron Hutcherson

Sour Patch Kids

I love a fun-size bar as much as anyone, but when Halloween rolls around, I’ll take a little bag of gummies over a single chocolate bar the size of a thumb every time. Like my colleague Maura Judkis, I’m a sucker for almost any gummy candy, especially from the Haribo brand. But this time of year, the texture, tang and availability of Sour Patch Kids make them my go-to. The child-shaped chewables were launched in the late 1970s in Ontario, Canada, as “Mars Men” to capitalize on the global space craze, and in recent years, new flavors and sizes have appeared on store shelves. I’m partial to the standard pack — red and green are the best of the bag — which remains a reliable counterbalance to all the chocolate in the trick-or-treat bowl. The real trick is remembering to put the bag down before they’re all gone. Matt Brooks

Whoppers

I have a problem with self control when it comes to Whoppers. They generally come in a small box or one that looks like a quart of milk, and if I buy one of those, that is the default serving size, no matter what it says in the nutritional analysis. I love them because they are simple and complex at the same time. It’s just a crunchy ball covered in chocolate. But when I shatter that sphere, the malted milk dissolves on my tongue with just enough sass to get my attention, and I have to eat them all until they’re gone. That problem is solved at Halloween, where the treat-size sleeves have exactly three Whoppers in them. Not going to lie: I usually eat three sleeves. But still, limiting myself to nine total Whoppers always feels like I’ve managed a level of moderation. Jim Webster

Kit Kat

There’s a reason the late Michel Richard chose to bestow his magic on the Kit Kat bar and whip up a widely copied restaurant version: The combination of crisp wafer and milk chocolate was very much to the great French chef’s taste. The slender sweet — created in England in 1935 and billed as a chocolate crisp — is elegant yet playful, like so much of Richard’s food; the snack-size confection is two perfect fingers that can snap apart from each other, which appealed to the chef’s love of crunch, and makes fans feel as if they’re getting something extra from the candy bar: dessert and a show. Tom Sietsema

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