Back in 2009, Esquire writer Chris Jones extolled the virtues of Jujubes, calling them "the only candy a man should eat." This, of course, was utter bullshit, as were his claims that they should be pronounced "joo-joobs," which is only slightly less precious than referring to Target as "Tar-zhay." Jujubes are about as manly as a Reba marathon on Lifetime.
This isn't to say there's no such a thing as a manly candy. There aren't many of them, granted — most candy is made for kids and, judging from their marketing, women. (Dove Dark Chocolate Singles: Made with 100 percent real estrogen!) But a few candies are very appropriate for men to consume. So here are the ten manliest candies ever — and trust me, joo-joobs ain't on the list.
10. Gummy Lighthouses
A candy actually made in the shape of a lighthouse (as well as a small house for the boys down below) actually sounds pretty manly — you know, men of the sea and all that. Very manly, indeed — at least until you consider that the ultimate purpose of these candies is to put them in your mouth. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
9. Big Hunk
It's a simple candy — pretty much just peanuts rolled in a honey nougat — but the fact that it's a big hunk of candy really helps its manliness. What hurts it is that it could easily have been a bad semi-naughty Joanie Cunningham line to which a Pavlovian studio audience might have dutifully woo-hooed.
Its slogan says it all: "It's not for girls!" You might think that this is just a marketing ploy, but you can tell they're serious because they've also turned the "O" into a "no girls allowed" sign. This candy loses points here in the States, where it loses its regional affiliation and sounds more like a yappy terrier with nervous urination issues.
7. Mr. Goodbar
Okay, so it wasn't named for the '70s flick starring Diane Keaton and Richard Gere. But at this point, it probably should be. If not for the movie — and maybe fun-size Halloween candies — this would have gone the way of the Reggie Bar or Mr. T's Gold Chain Bubble Gum. Either way, it's simple, it's chocolate, and it's damn manly.
6. Atomic Fireballs
Atomic Fireballs are in part cool because of the way they were invented in 1954, as a response to actual worries about an actual atomic cataclysm. Since it's manly to laugh maniacally in the face of danger, this fits right in. Brave idea, putting a mushroom cloud on your candy packaging, but it outlasted the Red Scare, so that's gotta mean something.
5. Wint-o-Green Life Savers
Not only does every Dad from the 1970s seem to have a roll of these in his pocket (is that a roll of Life Savers, dear, or are you just happy that junior won the game?), but more important, these give off sparks in a darkened room. It's like minty fire-building. Sure, we all know that it's just triboluminescence — that is, the oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate) absorbing the ultraviolet light and re-emitting it in the visual spectrum. But it's a lot manlier (and magically badass) to just ignore the science and say, "Dude! There's fucking fire coming out of your mouth!"
4. Salted Nut Roll
The great thing about this product is that no one gave it a cute name. It's a salted nut roll. You want a salted nut roll? Here ya go, here's a salted nut roll. That's it. It doesn't need a memorable name like "Payday" or whatever. This is a nut roll that speaks for itself. This is a candy that will cut in front of you in the DMV line and look at you like "How you doin?"
3. King-Sized Anything
A Hersheys with Almonds big enough to surf on. Four Reese's Cups instead of two. The full rack of Kit-Kats instead of the half. Anything King-sized is manly. It says to the world that yeah, you could share. You have enough. But dammit, you've also got it in you to eat the whole thing. Double points if it's a King-Size Snickers, since that's the top-selling candy bar of all time and shamelessly refers to itself as "The Big One." Triple points if you're eating the Big One at a State Fair and it's been skewered, deep-fried and covered in powdered sugar.
This is a pretty easy call; any candy that actually threatens your safety right there in its name? Pretty relentlessly macho. Of course, it's sort of an empty threat, but that's all right; better a thin threat than no threat at all (I'm looking at you, gobstoppers). Note that this manliness only extends to those jawbreakers that will actually fit comfortably in an adult male's mouth. Three-inch jawbreakers are not jawbreakers, per se, but lickable orbs. And when it comes to candy, more than a mouthful really is a waste.
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1. Licorice Sticks
We're talking real licorice here, not the red stuff. No strawberry vine or cherry niblets or whatever you've got stuffed into your pockets there, Opie. We're talking about black licorice — the stuff with some style. And in stick form too; shape is important here, though in the grand tradition of male denial, length is not. Anyway, licorice sticks announce to the world that you're eating black licorice. Your tongue is black; the smell of it is coming off of you in waves that make the knees of children buckle at the remembrance of black jelly beans past. This is not just a candy; this is a testament of will.
And it is the manliest candy of all.
A version of this story originally appeared in August 2009; we're sharing it again because we're happy to have Teague Bohlen back as a contributor.