Food Facts & Lore

America’s Favorite Halloween Candy

It makes perfect sense to have a sweet tooth in a cold climate. Don’t you think? That’s our excuse anyway. Humans have been dreaming up sweet concoctions ever since we plucked the first fruit from a branch, managed to snatch aromatic honey from the hive, and baked the first flatbread.

Sweets give us much-needed energy and put a smile on our faces in times of sorrow. They bring communities around potluck tables (we all love the sandwiches, but secretly hope to catch a slice of pie before it’s all gone) and brake the ice between shy kids trying to make new friends. Frontier men traveled with fruit and nut cakes and soldiers from all eras relied on sweets for energy and comfort. Did you know that American Soldiers carried Tootsie Rolls among their field rations during WWII? These were some of the few candies that could sustain changing conditions, and they provided a quick burst of energy when necessary. We might rightly assume that they provided a brief feeling of comfort and levity as well.

While moderation is truly the best policy, candy is undeniably playful. In the 1970’s, TV ads teased children (of all ages) with a question we could not resist putting to the test: How many licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop? Purdue University Engineering Students took on the challenge and found the answer with a licking machine. 364 licks. Plan it just right and that Pop will last a full year.

We spend about the same amount of money on Halloween candy and costumes, that is, approximately $2.5 million each year. Replace that “million” with the word “billion” and you’ve got the average spent on Easter candy each year. This is not surprising since Easter is big on chocolate, America’s all-time favorite candy. Incidentally, chocolate accounts for about half the total candy sales on Halloween.

And speaking of chocolate, the Snickers bar is the top-selling chocolate candy worldwide. If we single in on our own continent, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups outrank the Snickers, except on Halloween when the bite-size Snickers outranks all other chocolate treats. But the most popular Halloween candy is not made of chocolate. Skittles rank at the top of most recent surveys. The rest follow close behind.

#1 Skittles

#2 M&M’s

#3 Snickers (bite size)

#4 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

#5 Starburst

#6 Hershey’s Miniatures

#7 Tootsie Pops

#8 Sour Patch Kids

#9 Almond Joy

#10 Whoppers