Monday, October 06, 2008

Sweets, Sweets, Glorious Sweets

It's the sweet and sugary part of an otherwise dark and scary holiday - candy, the delicious treat sure to give you a sugary-high and leave you wanting more.

Candy has become synonymous with Halloween, much like images of ghosts, ghouls, goblins and pumpkins. Each year, millions of American children hit the streets with one goal in mind: to collect as much candy as possible. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported in the past that there are approximately 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. According to the National Confectioners' Association (NCA), 93 percent of these children will go trick-or-treating this year.When people go trick-or-treating, they automatically assume that they expect to be given candy, but what many don't realize is how "treats" became associated with this holiday.

The origins of distributing sweets to trick-or-treaters began back in the early days of the annual All Souls Day parade in England. Originally on Halloween, families would leave food at their doorsteps to stop spirits from entering their homes. Eventually the church encouraged people to distribute pastries called "soul cakes" to beggars rather than leaving food for the spirits. When Europeans immigrated to the United States, they brought the traditions of Halloween with them. Early Puritan societies in New England didn't celebrate Halloween because of strict religious beliefs, but 19th-century immigrants continued the traditions. In the mid-1850s, Americans began dressing up and going door-to-door asking for money and treats. According to, around the turn of the century, Halloween lost its religious overtones and became a community-based holiday focusing on games, treats and costumes. It wasn't until the 1920s when the modern incarnation of trick-or-treating was celebrated in Wellesley, Mass., according to the book, "Halloween: An American Holiday, an American Tradition."
The book explains that the act of trick-or-treating gradually spread across America, reaching North Carolina and Florida in the 1940s and the rest of the country by the 1950s. Halloween, as we know it, thrived in the post-war era. Last year, Americans spent $3.29 billion on all Halloween items, according to the National Retail Federation's 2005 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Of that $3.29 billion, approximately 64 percent of the money was spent on Halloween candy, according to the NCA. The Gourmet Retailer reported that this year, 75 percent of American homes are planning on passing out candy this Halloween season. Of those participants, the NCA projected that 76 percent of the candy passed out will be bite-sized chocolate while 30 percent will be non-chocolate bite-sized candy. Approximately 26 percent of homes will give out full-sized candy bars, both chocolate and non-chocolate.The NCA surveyed children between the ages of 6 and 11 and found that they prefer chocolate candy two to one over non-chocolate candy.To figure out what kind of candy children prefer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution surveyed 350 kids in order to find out their favorite candy. They found that children's favorite candies included Hershey bars, Snickers bars, Crunch bars, candy corn, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, lollipops and gum. Likewise, children ranked candy corn as one of their least favorite candies, followed by Tootsie Rolls, black licorice, caramels and mints. Parents also indulge their sweet tooth on Halloween. The NCA reported that 90 percent of parents admitted to sneaking goodies from their kids' candy stash - 70 percent took chocolate bars, 40 percent favored candy-coated chocolate, 37 percent gobbled-up caramels and 26 percent choose gum.

So while passing out candy to young ghosts and goblins is nice, remember this when shopping for Halloween candy for yourself; on Nov. 1, everything will be marked half off. <--- And yes ---> I will be at the WalMart.

:-) Trivia

Snickers : Snickers was named after a horse owned by the Mars family—inventors of this perennial favorite.

Peeps: Enough Peeps are made each year that they could circle the Earth twice.

3 Musketeers Bar: Originally the three layers were chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry nougat. Later the layers were changed to all chocolate.

Tootsie Roll: Tootsie Rolls debuted in 1896, introduced by Leo Hirshfield of New York, who named them after his daughter’s nickname, "Tootsie."

M&Ms: M&M’s were created in response to a dip in summer chocolate sales, and named after their inventors Forrest Mars and Bruce Murray.

Necco Waferst: Necco stands for the New England Confectionery Company.

Milky Way Bar: Frank Mars gave the "Milky Way" formula and $50,000 to his son in 1932, to start his own business—Mars Bars were the result. When Mars bars were exported in 1991 to Russia for the first time they were so popular that they needed to be rationed to 4 bars per person.

Junior Mints: Junior Mints were named after the developer’s favorite Broadway play, "Junior Miss." Both "Junior Miss" and the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis" were based upon the stories of Sally Benson