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Let's just say it: Tennesseans have a strange fascination with Runts candy.

A new report by Zippia.com, a website for job seekers, points out that Tennessee was the only state in America with a disproportionate interest in the fruity little candies, which are often given out in tiny boxes at Halloween.

If you don't know about Runts, they were introduced in 1982 and come in the shapes and colors of different fruits. They are made with a candy shell and a center like SweeTarts, according to Nestle, the candy's maker.

Even Zippia.com publicists thought Tennesseans' apparent taste for Runts was a little odd. In a news release, Zippia.com calls Tennessee's Runts passion a "weird" choice, noting it was the only state to register such a preference.

To understand this fascination, it's important to note the methodology of this survey. It doesn't say that Runts are necessarily Tennessee's favorite Halloween candy, just that the state is an outlier in the number of Google-based web searches for Runts candies originating from here compared to other places.

At the very least, you can say that Tennesseans are "Runts curious."

"We used Google Trends' data to find the candy each state likes more than most others," notes Kristy Cain of Zippia.com public relations. "Turns out, Americans like chocolate — but only slightly more than fruity, gummy candy like Starburst. This year's favorite candies were Kit Kats and Twix."

Interestingly, a quick trip by a Times Free Press reporter to a Chattanooga-area Dollar General Store, a CVS pharmacy and a Walmart turned up zero packages of available Runts. Maybe there has been a run on Runts. Or perhaps supply-chain issues have taken a toll on the candy brand.

The survey also notes that states neighboring Tennessee have more conventional candy tastes. Residents of both Georgia and Alabama are big Skittles fans, and people in North Carolina have an affinity for Trix.

Besides Tennessee, other states with unconventional tastes include Oklahoma (circus peanuts) and Colorado (black licorice).

Other key findings from Zippia.com:

— Last year's champion candy, Starburst, was displaced this year by chocolate options: Kit Kat and Twix bars.

— Twenty-eight states prefer chocolate candies, while 22 prefer non-chocolate options.

— Candy corn is a favorite in West Virginia.

Email Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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