Today is the day that kids (and some adults) look forward to for months—candy, costumes, scary stories, Jack o’ lanterns, witches, ghosts, and more candy. Halloween has become the less-serious fall holiday that gets the ball rolling through the New Year.
Halloween began as a Celtic festival that celebrated the end of the harvest season. Farmers would use this time to stock up on supplies for the winter. Along with this they also believed that on October 31st that the living and dead would overlap. The thought was that the deceased would come back to cause trouble to farms and sickness to the living. Fearing for their souls, they would extinguish all the lights in their house and dress up in ghoulish costumes to ward off evil. In the evening they would hold elaborate bonfires, which would draw out insects, like spiders and attract bats, two important Halloween symbols. Eventually the Catholics adapted this tradition as well.
The tradition of trick or treating began around one hundred years ago. Experts believe that the idea came from the Catholic act of “souling,” popular in the Middle or Dark ages. Souling was a community event that allowed beggars to go door-to-door asking for food in exchange for prayers. This is how the trick-or-treating concept was born; however the idea did not come to America until the 1930’s. Magazines, books, and television popularized it. When Walt Disney made the cartoon “Trick or Treat” it cemented it’s popularity and soon became a permanent part of Halloween. Originally the idea was that if the neighbor did not have a treat that a trick would be made such as egging the door, papering the trees, or doorbell ditching. Eventually (and thankfully!) the trick part was left out and the treats stayed.
Today Halloween is more about fun costumes and candy then keeping evil spirits at bay. Almost all us have a nostalgic Halloween candy we either love (chocolates) or dislike (raisins? Who gives out raisins on Halloween?) Candy companies love Halloween season as Americans purchase over 600 million pounds of candy each year. 90 million pounds of this is estimated to be chocolate. Candy corn, the quintessential Halloween candy sells over 20 million pounds although much of it is not consumed and used mostly for decoration. The top sellers of the season are Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kat and M&M’S. It is estimated that the average American household spends $44 on Halloween candy. We dug up a few fun bite-sized facts about Halloween favorites:
– On average, it takes 364 licks to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop.
– Until the early 1930s, the Sugar Daddy was called the Papa Sucker.
– Lucky Charms Cereal was inspired by the combination of Circus Peanuts and Cheerios
– Bubble gum is pink because it was the only color on hand when the candy was invented.
– Tootsie Rolls were added to soldiers’ rations because of their durability in all weather conditions during World War ll
– M&M’S Milk Chocolate bags contain: 30% brown, 20% yellow, 20% red, 10% orange, 10% green, and 10% blue.
– Snickers are the most popular candy bars for Trick or Treaters.
– The average kid will haul home 91 pieces of candy.