14 Mind-Blowing Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween Candy
How much Americans really spend on Halloween, the history of “fun size” candy, and more sweet facts about your favorite Halloween treats.
A lot of people hand out Halloween candy
Of the 157 million people who participate in Halloween, more than 141 million buy candy. That’s almost 45 percent of the entire U.S. population filling plastic pumpkins and pillowcases with sugary goodness. This is what 100 calories of your favorite Halloween candy looks like.
The most popular Halloween candy is…
Reese’s. According to USA Today, peanut butter cup sales neared $510 million in 2013. It’s also the most popular candy in the most populated states: California and Texas. M&M’s came in a close second with more than $500 million in sales in 2013.
Halloween candy is expensive
Consumers spend an average of $2.1 billion on Halloween candy each year, or about $47 per American. As a comparison, they collectively spend $2.6 billion on costumes and $330 million dressing up their pets.
Halloween is not the best holiday for candy sales
Despite the insanely high amount of money spent on Halloween candy, Fortune reports that Easter is expected to beat out Halloween for the biggest holiday candy sales for 2016 with an estimated $2.4 billion. The other two holidays noted for spiked candy sales are Christmas (about $1.4 billion annually) and Valentine’s Day ($1 billion). Here are clever ways to use all that leftover Halloween candy.
Chocolate is America’s favorite
More than half of the money Americans spend on Halloween candy is used to buy chocolate. In 2013, that ended up costing $3.9 billion for 3.5 billion bars under 3.5 ounces, about the average size you see at grocery stores.
You consume an absurd number of calories from Halloween candy
Donna Arnett, head of the department of epidemiology at University of Alabama’s Birmingham School of Public Health, estimates the average American kid eats anywhere between 3,500 and 7,000 calories. That max is the same caloric intake as 13 Big Macs. Arnett says kids who eat that much would need to walk for 44 hours or play basketball for 14.5 hours to burn off all those calories. Try these tips to avoid Halloween weight gain.
Candy corn used to have a different name
One of the most famous Halloween candies, candy corn was invented in late 1880s by George Renninger. His employer, Wunderlee Candy Company, began mass-producing the sweet in the early 1900s, originally calling it Chicken Feed. Its characteristic white, orange, and yellow stripes are supposed to resemble a corn kernel. Fun fact: October 30 is National Candy Corn Day.
Too much candy can mess with your head
In an animal study, University of California-Los Angeles researchers found that fructose—a key ingredient of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, found in almost all Halloween candy—can interfere with communication between neurons and affect memory after an injury. Tests conducted by scientists at the University of Montreal and Boston College showed consuming too much glucose, another form of sugar, could result in memory and cognitive deficiencies. Here’s how to help your body recover from a sugar binge.
The poisoned Halloween candy myths are false
Sadly, there are cases of children dying by tampered-with Halloween candy, but none have happened at random. The most famous incident was in 1974, when Ronald Clark O’Bryan knowingly gave his son Timothy Pixie Stix laced with cyanide. He died later that night. The father also gave drugged Pixie Stix to his daughter and three other kids to make it seem like someone was randomly handing out poisonous candy, but none of the kids ate it. O’Bryan was convicted of murder and received a death sentence.
Not all candy used to come in “fun size”
The candy manufacturer Mars started distributing mini candy bars in 1961, specifically targeting trick-or-treaters, and coined the phrase “fun size” in 1968. The first fun size candies were Snickers and Milky Way. When the Curtiss Candy Co. began making fun size Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars, Mars sued and lost. Now every candy can join in the fun (size).
Tootsie rolls were used in battle
Tootsie Rolls were included in soldiers field rations during World War II to give American troops “quick energy.” They could also hold up under changing weather conditions. In 1950, U.S. and United Nations troops in Korea put out a call for Tootsie Rolls, a code name for mortar shells. When they opened the airdropped box, they discovered they were actually sent Tootsie Roll candies. Luckily, they turned out to be pretty useful. Because of its malleable consistency, they used it to patch up holes in vehicles and equipment, and it was one of few foods soldiers could easily eat in cold temperatures.
Japan sells crazy Kit Kats
Kit Kat bars were introduced in Japan in 2000, and now nearly 300 flavors of Kit Kats are sold in that county. While some flavors seem relatively normal—coconut, cheesecake, and strawberry—some are much more eccentric, like wasabi, purple sweet potato, butter, and chili. There was also a limited edition “sublime gold” bar. It was a single dark chocolate stick with gold leaf coating. It cost 2,016 yen—around $16.
You can freeze leftover chocolate
Chocolate can stay good for six to eight months past its expiration date if it’s kept in a freezer, so you can have leftover Halloween candy all year long. Just make sure it’s tightly sealed.
These Halloween candies no longer exist
Notable discontinued Halloween treats include Brach’s Dem Bones, Chicken Dinner Candy Bar, Hershey’s S’mores, Cookies-n-Cream Twix, Astro Pops, Nestle Wonder Balls, and almond and dark chocolate M&Ms. We’re sad to see some of them go, but for some—like candy cigarettes—it’s probably for the best.
Source: USA Today; National Retail Federation; lifebuzz.com; Inc.; Live Science; Time; New York Times; University of California; Harvard; Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader; Snopes; Fortune; Huffington Post; candyfavorites.com