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Icky, sticky, slimy, sour

“Gross-out” candy can be a fun novelty buy, but whether it’s good enough to eat is another story.


Bacon Beans
The Candy Council unanimously begged for water after tasting these jelly beans aimed at pork lovers, thanks to a sickening smoky flavor. $7. 
“Seriously, who came up with these candies?.”—Samara


Candy Blood Bag
Mainline your sugar rush with strawberry-flavored goo that looks like the real thing. $6.
“This tasted like a day-old lollipop. Also, it totally freaked me out.”—Eleanor


Dried Zombie Skin
Like jerky, only made from zombies. $6. 
“I had an expectation that this would be more gooey, but it’s seaweed so it’s really crispy—like what’s used for sushi, but not at all flavorful or appetizing.”—Eilish


Acoutremints dill pickle mints
For those inopportune moments when you’re craving a pickle. (Also available in “extra-briny” gum balls and lip balm.) $4.
“It’s like eating a bad breath mint.”—Kasim


Toxic Waste Sour Smog balls 
The universal fave among this super-sour-loving group. $4.
“So sweet and so sour. It’s a contradiction in your mouth—a good one!”—Deon


Liquid Boogers
If real boogers tasted like sour apple, maybe catching a cold wouldn’t be so bad? $2.
“I would eat this again. It’s daring.”—Patrick


Sour Flush 
Like Fun Dip in a plastic toy toilet, with a lollipop “plunger.” $3. 
“Would I eat this again? Oh yeaaaahhhhh.”—Sammy


Bacon frosting
Think bacon in a bright red, sugary paste. $6 
“I think I’m going to be sick.”—Kasim


Samara, 9

Photo: Elizabeth Jochum

Eleanor, 10

Photo: Elizabeth Jochum

Deon, 13

Photo: Elizabeth Jochum

Kasim, 10

Photo: Elizabeth Jochum

Sammy, 7

Photo: Elizabeth Jochum

They’re not the things most of us think of when we’ve got a sweet tooth: blood bags, boogers, smog, toilet innards. But what reads like a cesspool of collective nastiness is actually a list of some of the popular “gross-out” candy sold at local candy store chain Candyality.

“It almost hurts to eat some of this stuff,” says owner Terese Lang, who recently opened a 6,000-square-foot megastore in Water Tower Place. Regardless of that, she says the grosser the concept, the better the candy often sells.

“There’s been lots of speculation about why kids like ‘gross-out’ candy so much,” says Susan Whiteside, a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association. “Is it because it’s funny and weird, because their parents don’t like it or because of the shock value? If you ask kids, they’ll tell you it’s because it’s funny, but in reality it’s probably a subtle combination of all those reasons above. It is—on a very small scale—a perfect example of what humans do as they grow up and mature: test their limits and boundaries.”

It’s no surprise that the idea of edible zombie skin makes grown-ups gag, but what do kids think? To find out, we asked Candyality’s Candy Council to put these gross goodies to a taste test. The result? Sometimes, gross is good. But other times, it’s just plain gross.

Candyality’s Candy Council is a group of kids in grades 2–8 that arguably has the sweetest job in town: meeting a couple of times a year to taste test and confer on marketing strategies.

WANT TO SCORE A SPOT ON THE CANDY COUNCIL? Send a 300-word essay, or a link to a 90-second-or-shorter YouTube video to kids@timeoutchicagokids.com explaining why you’d be great for the job. TOC Kids and Candyality will award one coveted position to the kid who comes up with the most creative answer. All entries must be submitted by May 3. One runner-up will win a basket of Candyality goodies valued at $25.