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And Gen Z’s & Millennials’ Favorite Candy Is…

They might be known for their all-natural cravings, but these generations also indulge, and with the time of year for some of their biggest food splurges right around the corner we asked Gen Zs and Millennials to tell us what their favorite candy is right now…

We’ve said it before—young consumers’ interest in healthy eating is a complex one. Yes, there is no doubt that they want to eat healthy: a Ypulse monthly survey found that 64% of 13-34-year-olds say they care about their health and being healthy, and 62% say that overall, they have a healthy diet. These desires are clearly at the root of the healthified fast food trend, and the growth of the all-natural food industry. But these generations are also celebrating all kinds of foods, and prioritize taste above all: 68% say they care more about how foods taste than how healthy they are. Ypulse’s research has also shown 84% of 13-34-year-olds say they let themselves indulge in unhealthy food. This is the group that lines up for cronuts, over-the-top milkshakes, and demanded that McDonald’s make their McMuffin available all day. What they’re looking for is brand variety—options that allow them to eat nutritious meals that are as quick and portable as traditional fast-food, and those that let them indulge in the darker side of the food pyramid. You don’t have to do both, but you do need to do one of them very well. 

Take snacking as one example. Hershey’s is counting on Millennials’ love of snacking to boost their sales. Despite the generation’s “reputation for healthy meals,” Bernstein Research predicts Hershey’s will continue to see success with young consumers because “snacks are holding up much better than center-of-plate or meal-based categories.” While good-for-you snacks like fruit and salads are the fastest growing segments, indulgent snacks like chocolate are also faring well. Ypulse’s own research found that 43% of 13-34-year-olds eat candy/sweets for a snack during the typical weekday.

With the seasons of indulgence (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) right around the corner, we took the opportunity to find out exactly what candy Gen Z and Millennials enjoy indulging in the most. In our recent survey on Halloween plans and spending, we asked 1000 13-35-year-olds, “What is your favorite candy?” Here are the brands and types that received the most responses, ranked in at top 15 list:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of candy brands and types that Millennials and Gen Z say are favorites—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Is Their Favorite Candy?


  1. Reese’s
  2. Chocolate
  3. Snickers
  4. KitKat
  5. Skittles
  6. Twix
  7. Sour Patch Kids
  8. M&Ms
  9. Hershey’s
  10. Peanut M&Ms
  11. Butterfinger
  12. Milky Way
  13. Swedish fish
  14. Starburst
  15. Nerds / Gummy Bears (tied for 15th)

We’ve got two generations of chocoholics on our hands. Chocolate features prominently in their top 15 candy list—but the winner of the top favorite candy named by respondents is Reese’s. Some who named the famous chocolate and peanut butter treat specifically said Reese’s Pieces, and others named Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, while many just said “Reese’s” leaving us to interpret which “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” iteration they like best. Reese’s topped the list among both Gen Z and Millennials, and the top five list of both generations was very similar. The biggest difference: Skittles was the number two favorite candy among Gen Z, while chocolate was the number two favorite for Millennials. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.