A Kiss isn't just a kiss

Americans have a sweet tooth and proclaim chocolate candies as their favorite indulgence, according to the just released 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ), annual study of brand equity of more than 1,500 brands, conducted by Harris Interactive. The study, conducted online from Jan. 31 through Feb. 20, 2012, analyzed the responses of over 38,500 consumers on key measures of brand health -- including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of the brand and their consideration to do business with or donate to a brand.


In the perennial battle of the brands, Hershey's Kisses ranked as the No. 1 chocolate candy brand for the fifth time in eight years, unseating one of its most enduring competitors, M&M's Plain Chocolate Candy, which has occupied the top spot whenever Hershey's Kisses Chocolate Candy hasn't.


While always enjoying strong brand equity, this year, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Candy moves up to No. 2 for the first time. "For the last eight years, it has been a battle between Hershey's Kisses and M&M's Plain Chocolate Candy for the top spot as America's favorite," says Aron Galonsky, senior vice president of Harris Interactive. "While Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Candy is usually in the top five, 2012 marks the first time that it is a contender for the top spot. It will be interesting to see if it continues this momentum."


Top brands (in order) include: Hershey's Kisses (79.56 percent); Reece's Peanut Butter Cups (77.62 percent); M&Ms Peanut Chocolate Candy (77.15 percent); M&M's Plain Chocolate Candy (77.10 percent); Hershey's Milk Chocolate Candy Bars; Snickers (74.04); Kit Kat (72.89 percent); Reece's Pieces (71.86 percent); and Twix (70.33 percent).


The 2012 study marks the first EQ in which premium chocolate is separate from the larger candy field. Ghirardelli Chocolate, which made its first appearance in the Harris Poll EquiTrend study in 2008, is No. 1 followed by Godiva Chocolate and Dove Milk Chocolate.


For those Americans who enjoy candy of the non-chocolate variety, Life Savers Candy takes the top spot, followed by Jolly Rancher, Tootsie Pops, Skittles, and Starburst.


For the first time, chewing gum is sorted into its own Harris Poll EquiTrend category, and as such, Extra Gum chomps its way to the top, followed by Dentyne Gum, 5 Gum, Trident, Orbit, and Stride Gum.