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A History of Halloween Candy

For many, Halloween is a time to carve pumpkins together, dress up kids in costumes, and send them house to house to trick-or-treat for their favorite candy.

Halloween candy wasn’t always popular. It began in the 1920s and 30s, becoming more of a tradition in the 1950s as manufacturers aggressively promoted the sale of candy during a sugar shortage.

What treats did we enjoy before that?

  • In the early 1800s, people baked soul cakes that resembled a shortbread biscuit and gave them out to children and the poor.
  • By the mid-19th century, many Halloween celebrations involved freshly harvested apples, hazelnuts, and chestnuts.
  • Between the 1880s and early 1900s, candy corn was invented and made in large quantities. It was designed to look like chicken feed since half of Americans at the time worked on farms.
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars and kisses were made in the early 1900s. Chocolate was considered a luxury item until it was mass-produced in factories and became affordable to the general public.
  • As sugar became more affordable, trick-or-treating often involved giving out cookies, fruit, nuts, toys, and money.
  • During the sugar rationing of World War II, manufacturers made candy the popular choice for traditional Halloween treats.
  • In the 1970s, wrapped candy produced in a factory was considered safer to hand out due to stories originating in New York City about treats being tampered with by strangers.

In 2022, the National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will spend about $10.14 billion to celebrate Halloween, including $3 billion on candy.

What’s your preferred Halloween treat? Reese’s peanut butter cups continue to top the list of favorites, while the original candy corn repeatedly rates the worst. Some candies we used to love are no longer made or hard to find. Share your stories with us!

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