15 Candy Additions To Elevate Your Next Bowl Of Popcorn

Baseball games and loaded hot dogs. The mall and a steaming, salty pretzel. Paris and baguettes. Certain cultural experiences just don't feel right without a corresponding delicious and unapologetically cliche food — and that's why movies and popcorn are an iconic duo. Whether you're wiping your brow and sneakily checking your bank account after shelling out for popcorn at AMC on a first date or popping a couple of bags in the microwave for a "Harry Potter" marathon in the living room, there's nothing that screams "movie night" like popcorn.

Everyone has their quirks when it comes to popcorn — some like it loaded up with lots of gooey butter, some want it tossed in caramel sauce (kettle corn, you have the floor), and some want it dressed up, like curry or truffle Parmesan popcorn. Yet another movie theater-specific quirk is pouring candy, like M&Ms, straight into the popcorn for a sweet and salty treat. 

Sacrilege? Actually, the combo of candy and popcorn is more common than the uninitiated might think. Sweet and salty foods have danced a long and thrilling tango throughout history, so it's no surprise that adding candy to popcorn has evolved so much that it's now common practice. The next time you visit a theater or turn on the tube for a movie marathon, consider shaking things up by pouring one of these candies into your popcorn.

1. Reese's Pieces

Reese's has long been applauded for classic peanut butter-filled chocolate cups, but since its founding, the company has branched out into candy bars, snack mixes, and of course, Reese's Pieces. A movie theater fave, Reese's Pieces are essentially Reese's take on M&Ms. Consisting of peanut butter candy in a crunchy, sugary shell, Reese's Pieces actually contain no chocolate, setting them apart from peanut butter cups in a major way — the first three ingredients on the label are sugar, partially defatted peanuts, and vegetable oil.

With no chocolate, Reese's Pieces are pure, unadulterated, sugary peanut butter heaven. Toss a handful into some buttery popcorn, and you wind up with a sticky, saccharine, and nutty bowl of bliss. The fat in the peanut butter contrasts nicely with the richer fat in the butter, and the candies' sugar-coated shells slowly melt and blend with the other flavors in the mix. If you're craving a little chocolate too, just add M&Ms.

2. M&Ms

When it comes to combining candy and popcorn, M&Ms are a classic choice. The multicolored candy-coated chocolates have been around since the 1940s, delighting the public with their simple, sweet flavor and bite-sized portability. They're readily accessible at theaters, but they're also easy to at the grocery store when you stock up for pre-movie marathon snacks (and you'll save an arm and a leg purchasing them outside of a venue).

The results of combining M&Ms and popcorn are similar to what happens when Reese's Pieces are thrown in the mix. The heat of the popcorn causes the candies' sugary outer shell to dissolve and the inner chocolate pieces to melt, leading to a brilliantly colored, warm, sticky, candied popcorn medley. It's like heaven in a bowl, and the perfect accompaniment for a movie night, whether you're catching a midnight screening of "Rocky Horror" or cozying up on the couch with your bestie to catch up on "Love Island." Try experimenting with different M&M's flavors to see what best tickles your fancy.

3. Crushed peppermints

There's nothing quite like the minty sweet taste of peppermints. They're not for everyone, but if you're a peppermint candy lover, you've got to try crushing them up and adding them to your next bag of popcorn. These hard candies typically don't have a soft chocolate or peanut butter center like Reese's Pieces or M&M's, so they take a while to melt and coat popcorn kernels. You'll still have some larger chunks of the peppermint candies themselves left, but give it five minutes, and your popcorn will be coated with a sweet, minty-fresh finish.

The combo of crushed peppermints and buttery popcorn might sound odd to the uninitiated, but it's a surprisingly tasty mix — and a great way to shake up the dessert situation for a Christmas movie marathon if you have a few too many leftover candy canes. For optimal results, pair your crushed peppermint popcorn with a piping-hot mug of peppermint hot chocolate.

4. Skittles

Structurally speaking, Skittles have a lot in common with M&M's: A hard, outer candy shell encasing a softer, sugary inside. Rather than chocolate, however, Skittles favor brighter, tropical fruit flavors in bags of technicolor candies, including grape, lime, strawberry, orange, and lemon flavors in the original pack. If your taste in candy leans more toward fruity than chocolatey or nutty, Skittles might be your popcorn's perfect match.

Again, you'll want to add your Skittles to the bag of popcorn while it's still as hot as possible to allow for maximum melting potential. Skittles melt when exposed to heat, and their multicolored casings turn a bag of plain white popcorn into a rainbow-streaked, sweet, and just slightly savory masterpiece when the two are combined. Try experimenting with different flavors of Skittles, from the aqua-colored tropical flavors to the face-puckering sour pack, and see which type best suits your taste buds.

5. Sour gummies

Sour gummies come in almost every form available. Worms, bears, rainbows, orange slices — if you can think of it, the wizards at Trolli and Haribo can probably make it. There are a number of ways to bring that signature, tongue-burning sour candy flavor to your popcorn, from sour Skittles to Lemonheads to Jolly Ranchers, but texturally, sour gummies of any kind make for the most interesting mix.

Sour gummies don't melt into popcorn the way M&Ms or peppermints do — the gelatin used to mold their shapes holds up quite well to heat. However, they do soften, making them easier to chew (and to pick out from between your teeth). Sour gummy bears and worms are both fun additions, and the mouthfeel of a soft, sugar-coated gummy contrasted with a crispy popcorn kernel is delightful. As a bonus, the sugary, sour coating on sour gummies blends with the butter, coating the popcorn and adding more flavor to the mix as a whole.

6. Cookie dough bites

One doesn't often see chocolate-coated cookie dough bites outside of the movie theater, but if you happen to come across them, snatch them up. Cookie dough bites consist of safe-to-eat chocolate chip cookie dough bits encased in a milk chocolate shell. The doughy center is soft and a perfect approximation of your grandma's famous chocolate chip cookie dough, minus the salmonella risk from raw eggs. Each individual bite is just a little smaller than the average popcorn kernel, making these bad boys a tasty, convenient, and innovative addition to popcorn.

As with any other chocolate-coated candy, the outer layer of milk chocolate enclosing cookie dough bites will melt away into dreamy, chocolate bliss when exposed to the heat of freshly popped popcorn. The dough too will soften, leaving soft bites of chocolate chip cookie dough to be consumed with each mouthful of chocolate-coated popcorn ... the perfect snack to share with a friend or loved one at the movie theater.

7. Caramel chips

Love caramel corn but don't want to take the time to make it yourself? Adding caramel baking chips to popcorn won't yield quite the same effect, but leads to delicious results. Caramel corn is usually made by combining butter, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and a few other ingredients on the stovetop and dumping the mixture over freshly popped popcorn kernels for a uniform sauce that evenly coats the entire batch of popcorn.

Caramel chips, on the other hand, come in solid form and have a condensed sweetness to them. They melt quickly, and when a handful is tossed into popcorn, you're left with a sweet, gooey coating with some bigger blobs of caramel to chew on with each mouthful. Factor in the butter and salt that come with popcorn, and you're in for a really sweet treat. Not a fan of caramel? Butterscotch or white chocolate chips would be equally delicious.

8. Butterfinger Bites

Chocolate. Peanut butter. Crunchy bites. Butterfinger Bites pack all the deliciousness of a full-size Butterfingers bar into fun, bite-sized pieces. While Nestle's Butterfinger BBs would be the ideal vessel for combining Butterfingers and popcorn due to their compact size, the candies were sadly discontinued decades ago. Luckily, Butterfinger Bites serve as an acceptable replacement for the well-loved BBs. Bites are larger than the BBs, consisting of crunchy peanut butter filling blanketed in milk chocolate.

Due to Butterfinger Bites' larger size, it's best to break them down into smaller chunks before adding them to your popcorn. This can be a difficult feat without making a mess, so if you're experimenting with this at home, a knife will come in handy. The end result is a glorious, goopy, chocolatey, peanut butter popcorn concoction that's sure to blow your friends away next movie night. Another plus? In a win for people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance, Butterfinger Bites are gluten-free and contain no artificial flavoring.

9. Sno-Caps

What are nonpareils? If we're talking candy (nonpareil also refers to the smallest size of capers as well as a variety of almonds), nonpareils are tiny discs of candy coated with sprinkles. Today, the sprinkles on a nonpareil candy may be any color of the rainbow, but traditionally they were white, and this is the effect Nestle was going for when Sno-Caps were created. Sno-Caps consist of semi-sweet chocolate bits covered in a thick layer of white sprinkles, invoking the image of a snow-capped mountain.

These simple confections are convenience store and cinema favorites. There's a lovely simplicity to them, and their small size makes them a great chocolate-forward addition to a big bucket of popcorn. The chocolate melts, and the white sprinkles coat popcorn kernels in a sweet, sugary layer. The downside? Because Sno-Caps are so simple, you may get bored of just chocolate and sprinkles after a couple of handfuls. To shake things up, consider adding crushed pretzel pieces, chopped nuts, or caramel sauce to the mix.

10. Buncha Crunch

Shoutout to whoever first had the idea to dip crisp rice in chocolate. It's not a combination that would occur to most people, but Crunch bars have made quite the name for themselves in the candy world by combining these two disparate ingredients. The crispy chocolate bars also come in bite-sized form by the name of Buncha Crunch, which happens to be perfect popcorn pairing fodder. The milk chocolate-coated crispy rice candies are sweet, crunchy, and the ideal size for tossing into a bowl of popcorn.

It's the texture that sets Buncha Crunch against the crowd here — those crispy rice centers are no joke. Popcorn has its own type of crunch, but it's softer, so Buncha Crunch's snappy insides provide a nice textural contrast. As is the case with any chocolate-coated candy, Buncha Crunch's milk chocolate shell will melt as long as the popcorn is hot enough. Consider adding some extra salt to your popcorn in order to really bring out the flavors of the butter and chocolate.

11. Swedish Fish

Chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter tend to be the best candy options if you're looking for something that'll melt into your popcorn and give the entire bowl a nice sticky coating of sweetness. However, some people can't tolerate or simply don't enjoy those flavors. Movie theater candy is a personal choice, and we're not here to judge anybody's tastes. If preferences fall on the non-chocolate/caramel/peanut butter side of the fence, consider using Swedish Fish to elevate your next bowl of popcorn.

Swedish Fish might look like typical gummy candies made into the shape of a fish, but their flavor is unique — it's not the bizarre, artificial strawberry or cherry flavor we've come to expect from red-colored candies. While there's never been an official answer from Malaco, the creator of the candies, it's generally agreed upon that the actual flavor of Swedish Fish is lingonberry, a sweet and tart berry commonly found in Scandinavia. Swedish Fish won't melt into your popcorn the way chocolate or caramel will, but a bite of these tangy, chewy, and sweet candies contrasts with plain buttered popcorn in a way many of the other candies on this list can't. As a lagniappe, the ruby-red fish make a colorful contrast against the popped kernels.

12. Reese's mini cups

Peanut butter and chocolate go together like Bonnie and Clyde, partners in delicious crime. Rich, sweet chocolate and nutty, creamy peanut butter actually combine to produce flavor via the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids, which results in a unique and intriguing overall flavor. No one does chocolate and peanut butter better than Reese's in the candy world. While Reese's Pieces make an excellent addition to popcorn, lovers of traditional Reese's cups are sure to enjoy the addition of Reese's mini cups to their next bowl.

Reese's mini cups are essentially the larger-sized cups in miniature: Tiny cups of milk chocolate, peanuts, sugar, salt, and a handful of additional ingredients. Reese's Pieces contain no chocolate, so the cups provide a very different experience — and the miniature size allows them to melt and integrate into popcorn far more efficiently than the full-sized cups (although if you can only get your hands on the regular size, they're pretty easy to break up into smaller pieces).

13. Crushed Kit Kat

If you grew up eating candy (or even just watching commercials — cue "gimme a break, gimme a break ..."), you've definitely come across a Kit Kat or two in your day. The chocolatey wafers are sold in supermarkets and gas stations, are popular movie theater treats, and can act as important currency in the Halloween candy trading game depending on your social circle. The official ingredients listed are standard chocolate bar fare (sugar, wheat flour, cocoa powder, and so on), but funnily enough, the insides of Kit Kats today are generally other Kit Kats: those that came out a little wonky during the assembly process. Props to Nestle for efficiency.

Kit Kats' crunchy inner contents and milk chocolate coating make them a fabulous pairing for popcorn, both flavor and texture-wise. The issue in terms of adding them to popcorn is that even mini Kit Kats are quite large, and not designed for bite-sized popability. The solution? Chop them up and crush them. You'll get even more bang for your buck in terms of melted chocolate (smaller pieces allow the chocolate to melt more easily), and the crunchy inner wafers are a sweet addition to popcorn pieces.

14. Goobers

Goobers are kind of an oddity in the candy world. Unless you or someone you know is a Goobers fanatic, you may not have heard of these chocolatey, peanutty candies at all. Goobers are quite simple in their composition. They're just chocolate-covered dry-roasted peanuts, so if you're curious about these sweet treats but unable to find them in stores, any sort of chocolate-covered peanut will do. In terms of flavor, the peanut and chocolate combo makes Goobers similar to Reese's products, but with whole, shelled peanuts being used, they're quite different texturally.

Goobers contain less of the sugary sweetness of, say, peanut M&M's and the fact that the peanuts are dry-roasted prior to being doused in chocolate gives them a slightly different flair than most other peanut-forward candies. When combined with popcorn, the outer layer of milk chocolate will begin to melt into the kernels while the peanuts themselves remain whole (and warm ... and salty ...). Make sure to pick some up the next time you're hitting a matinee, or grab a box to take home for your next movie night.

15. Candy corn

Candy corn has a strange history and a reputation for trouble. It's one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods; chances are you either loathe it or will defend it with your life. Regardless, the waxy, sweet, corn-syrupy morsels are the undisputed champs of Halloween candy — and yes, some folks do enjoy candy corn year-round. If you're team candy corn, be sure to try combining it with popcorn at your next scary movie marathon for a real treat.

Candy corn won't melt into popcorn, but it does soften as it sits among the hot kernels, making it a little easier to chew. The salt and butter in popcorn, whether movie theater, stovetop, or microwave, both help take the sugary flavor of candy corn to the next level. Like candy corn, but feel like your popcorn bowl needs a little extra oomph? Caramel sauce, chocolate chips, or peanuts would all make great additions.