The NCAA Tournament is down to just four teams in each of four regions—a group of national title contenders long-called the Sweet 16. And that got us thinking…with Easter this weekend, and millions of Americans gorging on baskets full of sugary and chocolaty and gooey and sticky and yummy candy, isn’t this a good time for a real Sweet 16?
Here, then, is that real Sweet 16. The ultimate Easter candy bracket, with four regions, broken down with the top four sweet, delicious seeds.
As you’ll see, some traditional candies haven’t been included—consider them first and second-round fodder—as we focus as much as we can on Easter-specific confections. Starburst and Skittles are sweet treats, yes, and a fine inclusion into any Easter basket, but they aren’t exactly “Easter” candies, so much as just candy you can have on Easter.
Also, remember this is for fun, and tastes differ, so if you don’t like gooey chocolate eggs or you can’t stand the smell of peanut butter or something insane like that, you will probably disagree with this list. And you will be wrong.
The seedings are based on social media feedback—the more votes the better the seed—but the tournament is played out based on years of research—sweet, delicious research—and common sense. With that, hoppy Easter, as the kids say, and enjoy the real Sweet 16.
The first region features the overall No. 1 seed based on feedback in the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. Different from a traditional peanut butter cup, the egg has no rigged sides, making the consistency much smoother and, to some, more delicious.
The top seed faces the No. 4 seed in this region…lollipops. Yes, it’s a bit of a cop out—or dare-I-say “pop” out—but there are so many kinds of bunny and chick shaped pops around Easter it was silly to think of a tournament without them. And still, they’re the lowest seed remaining, with no shot at advancing to the next round of candy treats.
The No. 2 seed in the region may have felt slighted by its ranking, and being placed in a part of the bracket with the top seed, but pastel M&Ms are a wonderful staple of any Easter basket. That said, they are just M&Ms in bright, springy colors. If we were doing a bracket of the best candy, they’re probably a No. 1 seed. Alas, it’s Easter, and they dropped to a 2. (Note: the picture is plain, but peanut are always better.)
No matter what kind of M&M we have, they easily handle marshmallow eggs which, let’s be honest, were lucky to get to the second weekend and are dangerously over-seeded.
The “Let’s Eat Eight” Winner:
This is a slobbernocker, in that you’ll be slobbering all over just thinking about eating these delicious treats all day. Consider this a triple overtime classic, where Reese’s hits a half-court buzzer beater to win.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs advance to the Final Four!
The second region is surely the weakest, at least in terms of No. 1 seeds. Still, jellybeans are vital to a good Easter experience. What would you put in those plastic Easter eggs without them? And good jellybeans—your Jelly Belly, Starburst, Jolly Rancher, Gimbal’s—are delicious any time of year. And yet, they’re a treat best eaten in bulk, with combining flavors, so a 1-seed, but the weakest per the voting.
Jellybeans do earn a relatively easy win over Robin Eggs, the malted milk balls shaped and speckled to look like real bird eggs. Sprinkle a few in your basket and eat them when everything else is gone.
The No. 2 seed in this region is strong…the chocolate bunny. There are a two main varieties of chocolate bunny we can put here. There’s the solid milk chocolate variety which is just chocolate poured into a bunny-shaped mold and there’s the hollow bunny, which his about one-tenth the amount of chocolate, but somehow more festive. Look at his little eyes, often made of candy or white chocolate. How cute is he. You just want to eat his damn ears off.
The No. 3 seed is Sweetart Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies, which are not only festive, but active…on social media, that is.
The “Let’s Eat Eight” Winner:
The chocolate bunny probably should have advanced here over jellybeans, but two things kept that from happening. First, jellybeans are the strongest non-chocolate contender in the tournament, so bouncing them before the Final Four seemed wrong. Second, there are a lot of bad chocolate bunnies in the world. A lot. And when you open the box and they look all chalky? I saw a bunny one time that was “chocolate flavored.” What does that even mean?
Jellybeans advance by a whisker.
As we flip to the other side of the bracket, the top seed—and second overall—is Cadbury Crème Eggs. Now, this does not include the caramel variety, but it does count the mini eggs with the larger, creamier set. Combined they nearly had as many votes as the Reese’s, which his why the final eight in this region is going to be so interesting.
But first, the crème eggs crack open the bracket, easily beating No. 4 Twizzlers Easter grass candy. This is a brilliant idea by Twizzlers—though not offered on their official website you can find bags all around the internet—to replace the grass in an Easter basket with more, grass-like candy. True genius, candy marketers. Still not enough to advance.
The No. 2 seed in this region is the only repeat flavor profile, but it’s here because of how different the candies are. Reese’s Pieces are nothing like the peanut butter cups, despite having mostly the same ingredients. Let’s face facts, pieces are just better M&Ms. They’re so good that M&M had to come out with their own peanut butter variety some years ago. And still, somehow the pieces would prevail. Put all the orange ones in a cellophane bag with a green twist and it looks like the most scrumptious carrot you will ever eat.
They topple Pez in the Sweet 16. While Pez is a universal candy for any occasion, the festive storage and delivery device is what makes this an Easter staple. Still, the candy itself isn’t great. Reese’s piece together a win.
The “Let’s Eat Eight” Winner:
Could we see two Reese’s products in the Final Four? We could. But we won’t.
As good as the Pieces are—maybe a Final Four team in an open candy bracket—there is no sweet treat more synonymous with Easter than the Cadbury. A Final Four without those crème-filled eggs would be chaos. Candy chaos.
So far we’re at candy-covered chalk, and that tastes horrible. It also stops right here. The final region features the treat that had the third most votes, but also the most votes against them: Peeps.
Eat one Peep and it’s delicious. One. Eat a sleeve of Peeps and you feel gross. Eat an entire box of Peeps—if you don’t the ones you leave in the box all get stale in like an hour—and you want to die.
Nobody should want to die eating candy. Peeps are ripe for an upset.
And upset they are. The No. 4 seed in this region is the best Easter candy nobody ever talks about, thanks in part to the fact they are both hard to find and so insanely expensive it’s impossible to justify buying more than maybe one box a year.
Zitner’s has been making chocolates since the 1920s and while they offer several variety of Easter treats—butter cream eggs, marshmallow eggs, peanut butter eggs—the Butter Krak Eggs are one of the most delicious things you will ever put in your mouth and I will fight you if you tell me I’m wrong. I will fight you.
Dark chocolate and toasted coconut—they spell it cocoanut at Zitner’s—combined to encase a combination of “long-thread cocoanut” and “sweet creamery butter” and if you aren’t drooling right now you’re doing candy wrong.
Sorry Peeps, you just got squished.
The No. 2 seed in this region is perhaps the most simple but delicious treat yet. Chocolate eggs. Just the right amount of chocolate to pop into your mouth and dense enough to make it feel like a much bigger morsel. Surely the quality depends on the brand of chocolate, but if you’re looking for a quick burst of sweet smiles, you can’t go wrong with a foil-wrapped plain chocolate egg.
The eggs face off against the No. 3 white chocolate bunnies, and while I perhaps let my personal tastes lead to an upset already in this region, that stops here. White chocolate is delicious and, yes, it is technically chocolate, made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk. It is not, as some kids think, vanilla. But it’s still yummy. Alas, white chocolate is something of an acquired taste and many chocolate lovers detest the white variety. Eggs advance.
The “Let’s Eat Eight” Winner:
The upset train rolls along here. Plain chocolate may be able to overtake white chocolate, but not that delicious, crunchy combination of dark chocolate, butter and coconut.
Butter Krak eggs advance to the Final Four. Buy a box and thank me later.
The Final Four
Now, again, this is all based on personal tastes, and it’s impossible to judge a peanut butter and chocolate treat against a flavored jelly sugarball, but with the insane number of votes for Reese’s we received, they advance to the title game.
And they face the Cadbury Crème Egg. Not even my love of the Butter Krak can deny the advancement of the gooey crème egg.
It’s a title game for the ages and it’s almost too close to call.
There are two simple reasons for picking one over the other: first, chocolate and peanut butter are meant for each other —sorry, jelly, you can stay on the shelf for this debate—so it’s hard to have anything top that combination and, second, I went with the votes on this one, as they both had a ton of votes, it was smart to give the people what they want. Plus, have you ever taken a bite out of a crème egg, then had the crème ooze out of the egg and land on you? It looks…yeah. Sorry about that visual.
The winner of the Sweet 16 Easter candy bracket is the Reese’s peanut butter egg!
You may have gotten your NCAA Tournament bracket wrong, but there’s no going wrong in this Sweet 16. May your baskets be filled with all of these delicious treats this season.