Behind the Ratings: Candy

A few weeks ago, we launched our first set of ratings on candy. The products covered with this launch include over 1500 chocolate bars (solid bars of chocolate), candy bars (traditional chocolate-based candy like Snickers, Nestle Crunch, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), and hard candies from about 60 different companies. We’re planning on adding soft candies like gummy bears and Tootsie rolls sometime down the road. In the meantime, we’d like to share what goes into the candy ratings.

1. Health. The health component of the rating is calculated in the same way that health ratings are calculated for other foods. In a nutshell, that means for each product that has nutrition data, we compare recommended nutrients to restricted nutrients. Scores are further adjusted based on whether the product is organic or contains high amounts of sugar, saturated fat, or cholesterol. Most candy, logically, scores low on health, but you’ll find that dark chocolates tend to do a little better (because of their iron content).

2. Environment. For hard candies, the environmental component of the rating is solely based on company scores. For chocolate and candy bars, the environmental component of the rating is a combination of a product score and a company score (each given equal weight). The product score is determined by whether or not the candy product carries a certification (Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, or Fair for Life).

3. Social. Like the environmental component of the rating, the social component for chocolate and candy bars combines both product and company scores. The product score is determined by whether or not the candy product carries a certification (Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, or Fair for Life).

The approach we used for the certification evaluations (used to assign product-level environmental and social scores) was similar to what was done for coffee, but modified to account for the nuances associated with this commodity. Our research and ratings show that candy should be an infrequent indulgence, but when you do indulge, opt for products with certifications.

For more details, please check out the official candy methodology page. To see how all this translates to numbers, see the candy ratings.

About Sheila Viswanathan

Sheila Viswanathan focuses on educating individuals on how to make healthier dietary choices. She received her doctoral degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College, Columbia University and is certified as a registered dietitian.
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