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12 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.

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A lot of people hand out Halloween candy

Of the 68 percent of Americans who plan on participating in Halloween in 2019, 69 percent of those will buy candy, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s almost 47 percent of the entire U.S. population filling plastic pumpkins and pillowcases with sugary goodness. Get ready for trick-or-treaters with these Halloween couples costumes. 

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The most popular Halloween candy in America is…

Believe it or not, Skittles! According to September 2019 data from candystore.com, Americans purchase an average of 3.3 million pounds of the chewy rainbow candies every Halloween. They’re also the most popular candy in the most populous state, California. Reese’s peanut butter cups came in a close second with 3 million pounds—and the love of the second-most populous state, Texas. Find out what the most popular candy in your state is.

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Halloween candy is expensive

Consumers will spend an average of $2.6 billion on Halloween candy in 2019. Seem like a lot? Well, it’s actually less than they spend on costumes ($3.2 billion) and decorations ($2.7 billion), according to the NRF. Luckily, we’ve listed the best Halloween candy deals.

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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. Find out the best Halloween candy deals for 2019.

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Candy corn used to have a different name

One of the most famous (and hated!) 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. While candy corn may not be the most loved sweet, these popular Halloween costumes will thrill you.

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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. Looking to curb your kids’ sweet tooth? These Halloween treats will do the trick.

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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. That’s just one of the scary and disturbing real things that happened on Halloween.

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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). This historical candy fact explains why we pass out sweets on Halloween. 

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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. Make sure your children are following all of these important trick-or-treating safety rules.

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Japan sells crazy Kit Kats

Kit Kat bars were introduced in Japan in 2000, and now more than 350 flavors of Kit Kats are sold in that country. 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.

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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. Here are more clever ways to use all that leftover Halloween candy.

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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 think some of them are definitely vintage candies that deserve a comeback, but for others—like candy cigarettes—it’s probably for the best. Next, check out the surprising stories behind your favorite Halloween traditions.

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

Originally Published in Reader's Digest