Candystore.com keeps an eye on the candy tastes of America, producing an interactive map of each state's favorite candies at various seasons of the year. At Christmas, many states' favorite is candy canes, others prefer reindeer corn or Hershey Kisses. According to the website, South Carolina's favorite Christmas candy is a classic: M & Ms.
We talked with two candy store managers, and they said that makes sense, even though M & Ms are not their own top sellers. Chris Hinely of The Peanut Man said his business makes a lot of specialty candies, and while he doesn't sell a lot of prepackaged M & Ms like one would find in a convenience store, he still uses plenty of red and green M & Ms in his creations of white chocolate and dark chocolate bark.
Both Hinely and Latoya Davis, manager of Rocket Fizz in Columbia, believe people like a mixture of sweet and salty tastes at Christmastime, such as chocolate covered nuts or pretzels. Davis said that would probably explain people's love of peanut M & Ms, which outsell the other varieties at her shop.
Candy lover Angie Gahagan was shopping for Christmas candy for friends and family when we talked with her. She echoed the managers' feelings about the combination of tastes. "I want something sweet and savory, so teh perfect choice for me is going to be some type of chocolate covered nut. I love dark chocolate." She waxed nostalgic at the thought of dark chocolate. " Probably my favorite...dark chocolate peppermint bark. That is my weakness. It's something we enjoy especially at this time of year. I always love to find that in my stocking."
Gahagan was in tune with the survey, which revealed that peppermint bark is South Carolina's second favorite Christmas candy. Last year's Palmetto State champion candy was Pez, which fell to third place this year. Looking into the future, Davis predicted this year's champion would stand. "M & Ms. That's the first thing my children go to. Because there are so many options: plain, caramel, mint, peanuts...those fit well in a stocking. I think we'll sell a lot of those...because you can buy several things and it just looks fuller, and for kids, they just see more."
Which kind of nails it for a lot of kids, old and young. When it comes to one's favorite Christmas candy, Davis said, "More is always better."