The sad truth is, once you’ve reached a certain age, Halloween candy is only actively enjoyable during fleeting, very specific circumstances. Not because it goes bad (during the Zombie Apocalypse, survivors will undoubtedly subsist on Mike & Ikes and Twinkies), but—unless you’re intoxicated and in costume—Smarties, 3 Musketeers and Milk Duds taste exactly like what they are—fun-sized nuggets of dextrose, compound chocolate and Yellow No. 5—and thus have a diminishing appeal once you get past the novelty. Not that we’re suggesting you throw all of your trick-or-treat leftovers away—heavens, no. But with a few quick tweaks, you can make even the most luridly colored, artificially flavored candies suit your all-grown-up lifestyle.
1. Take that, Starbucks! Drop smooth textured, bite-sized chocolates (i.e., Hershey’s, Milky Way, Peanut Butter Cups, Peppermint Patties) into your morning cup of coffee for a cheap and instant DIY mocha.
2. Make Your Own Trail Mix: You’ll often find M & M’s incorporated into prepackaged baggies of Gorp, and if you’ve scored a mini envelope or two during Halloween, it’ll be easy enough to make your own. But don’t be afraid to get creative — we might be more inclined towards high impact exercising if our trail mix included Reese’s Pieces, Sour Patch Kids, and a smattering of Wild Cherry Lemonade Nerds.
3. Use it to infuse vodka: The tofu of the alcohol world, vodka readily absorbs the flavors of just about anything. So why not throw a cup or two into a mason jar, along with Candy Corn, Skittles, Starbursts, Twizzlers, Gummi Bears or Malted Milk Balls?
4. Waste not want not: Be sure to save cute, retro wrappers (you weren’t actually planning to EAT those Mary Jane’s, were you?) for packaging tiny holiday trinkets, or decoupaging larger Christmas gift boxes. Crafty!
5. Pair it with wine: Hoity toity oenophiles will surely scoff at the thought, but sommelier Jim Clark actually shares some pretty legit-sounding wine pairing suggestions on StarChefs. For a taste of what Clark has in mind, read on:
Milk Chocolate Bars: “Go for a big, fruity Zinfandel; it actually lends some suavity to cheaper, mass–produced chocolates in particular.”
Three Musketeers: “A Sauternes with some age goes very well, with darker fruit aromas like fig, dried apricot, orange zest and hazelnut—great complements to the nougat.”
Snickers: “Go for tawny port to take on the chocolate, caramel, and nuts; the Quinta do Noval 10–Year Tawny does well with its full body and good balance of dried fruit, walnut, and caramel aromas.”
Twix: “The cookie reminds me of Scottish shortbread… perhaps a smooth Scotch might be a good match for the caramel? Something Highland, and on the rich, voluptuous side.”
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: “The oily touch of the peanut butter does well with some tannins, and choosing a fruit–dominated wine leaves the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter flavors undisturbed.”