As candy bars go, PayDay has always been underrated. Though this could be a matter of texture—many people hate finding nuts in their confectionary, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups offer all the peanut flavor with none of the crunch—I suspect it has more to do with PayDay’s resolute lack of chocolate, its insistence upon hitting your palate with salted peanuts before ceding to the caramel nougat inside. Whatever the case, PayDay is never a star on Halloween, and it deserves to be. This year, though, things might be different.
In 2020, The Hershey Company, which has owned the brand since 1996, released the Chocolatey PayDay, featuring a milk chocolate coating atop the classic candy bar
we all too few of us know and love. (Don’t be concerned by the dubious term “chocolatey”—both skim milk and chocolate really are present in the ingredients list.) This year, for the 2023 Halloween season, for the first time, Hershey has released a new Snack Size Chocolatey PayDay bar for trick-or-treat distribution, and I wanted to see how it compares to a Halloween stalwart and frequent resident of just about every pumpkin bucket in America: the Baby Ruth bar.
Baby Ruth, owned by the Ferrara Candy Company since 2018 when it was sold by Nestlé, has been manufactured in Fun Size formats for decades, and it’s made of basically the same elements as the PayDay: nougat center, a layer of caramel, dry roasted peanuts, and a chocolate coating. In fact, the Chocolatey PayDay and the Baby Ruth contain a nearly identical ingredient label:
Nougat, peanuts, chocolate. Is there any reason to add yet another remix of these ingredients to a Halloween pail already overstuffed with them?
Yes, absolutely. PayDay bests the Baby Ruth by a mile.
Chocolatey PayDay is a Halloween savior
I hadn’t had a Baby Ruth in years, so tasting the two chocolate bars side by side was an illuminating experience. Whereas the Chocolatey PayDay had an impressive amount of that roasty, salty flavor coming from the peanuts and a nicely balanced layer of chocolate, the Baby Ruth bar was, frankly, a joke: the chocolate tasted bland and waxy. The peanuts were few and far between. And compared to a dense, craggy PayDay, which gave my teeth something to work on, the noodle-narrow Baby Ruth practically crumpled underneath the force of each bite, no resistance to speak of. Sure, its nougat was silkier, but what’s the point if it has no flavor?
In a market flooded with lackluster Halloween candy, Baby Ruth sits squarely among the Milk Duds and Sugar Babies of the world. The Chocolatey PayDay is its altogether more interesting counterpart, a sweet-and-savory heavyweight that deserves wider adoption this season. Now that it finally comes in a Snack Size (and that’s really all you need), maybe trick-or-treaters will begin spreading the word about the new candy on the block.