* Figures in the header image are from the Muscle Show Series of Pokémon figures, available from Go Studio at GK Figure.
In the world of Pokemon, there are very few options to get stronger outside of sheer hard work. The aptly named Rare Candy is one of the very few alternate methods for leveling up a Pokemon, so finding one in the wild is pretty exciting -- there's nothing more agonizing than a Level 35 Charmeleon.
A recent Reddit post posed the question: who makes Rare Candies? Unavailable for purchase at any shops, they are generally found in hidden locations throughout the games. Occasionally they may be available in exchange for Battle Points, but the asking price is steep. For such a highly prized commodity, there's never been an indication of where they come from. But what exactly is a Rare Candy, and why are they so rare?
When used, a Rare Candy instantly raises a Pokemon's level by one. They can also restore a fainted Pokemon, increase friendship, and even evolve a Pokemon that has made it to level 100 without reaching its final evolutionary stage. The famous snack is incredibly versatile, yet the games only describe them as "packed with energy."
The Rare Candy is almost too good to be true. However, there is a drawback: a Pokemon that is leveled up predominantly by this item will not be as strong as one that has leveled up through battling. Effort Values increase a Pokemon's strength as a result of combat, and one that's been stuffed with a food substitute for training will not reap the same rewards.
An artificial substance that's difficult to acquire and used to increase strength for an unfair advantage? Major League Baseball has entered the chat. Rare Candies would, at the very least, be frowned upon if they were to appear in the Pokemon anime. Charizard probably would have received a random drug test from the Pokemon League after being used in the first Gym during Ash's Johto campaign.
A Gym Leader's purpose is to be defeated so aspiring Pokemon Masters can assess the results of their training. The number of badges a trainer has earned is meant to be a testament to their skill. There's no skill involved in stuffing a Pokemon full of Rare Candies to one-shot all of Brock's rock Pokemon with a horde of 'roided-out Gyarados.
Although Rare Candy has never officially appeared in the anime, a variant -- referred to as Mystery Candy by the English Dub -- has appeared. Instead of increasing a Pokemon's level, this item increases its size. The result was a giant Caterpie going full Godzilla on a nearby town. So maybe enhancing Pokemon is a bad idea for lots of reasons.
People like Team Rocket, who steal and abuse Pokemon, would relish the ability to create an artificially-charged super army of them. In the manga, Team Rocket is seen forcing a Rhyhorn to evolve into a Rhydon by giving it an injection. While the needle may not have been Rare Candy-related, it is proof nonetheless that nefarious use is the far more likely outcome.
The Rare Candy is great in small doses but would be disastrous for Pokemon if it were more readily available. Perhaps the magical item is so hard to come by because it actually is outlawed. The Pokemon League would be flooded with cheaters and Pokemon themselves would suffer. Kids would probably try to eat them too -- fortunately, according to Pokemon game director Junichi Masuda, eating one is akin to eating dog food.
The negatives of Rare Candies far outweigh the positives. No one ever said a journey is fun or memorable because it was easy. Training and growing alongside Pokemon is the best part of the adventure. It took Ash over 20 years to finally become a Pokemon League Champion -- thankfully there isn't an asterisk next to his name for giving his Pokemon PEDs.