The traditions of Halloween are familiar and fun. Dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and of course the treasure trove of candy at the end of the night are just some of the best parts. Halloween treats have taken many new and exciting forms since their humble beginnings. How then, did we get from baked goods to the wrapped candies that we know today? The answer is a complex one indeed.
Money Talks But Candy Walks
Prior to the 1950s, trick-or-treating wasn’t nearly as popular a pastime as it is today. Those participating in the holiday were given coins, fruit, or small toys. In fact, candy was only a fraction of the goodies. Additionally, the majority of children embraced the holiday as an excuse to make mischief. However, when trick-or-treating began its rise to popularity post-1950, good-natured homeowners found themselves inundated with costumed children. This became an expensive proposition, particularly for those who gave out coins. Candy and confection manufacturers seized on this growing need by pushing economical wrapped candy. It was cheap to buy and give away to a growing wave of grateful trick-or-treaters. The suggestion was extremely well received, resulting in October reigning as the busiest candy-buying month today. In fact, Americans buy 20 million pounds of candy corn alone each year!
A Safe, Delicious Tradition
Pre-wrapped candies, already popular with children, have cemented their place in Halloween tradition. They offer visible assurance that they are fresh and unaltered. Unlike more historical treats like candy apples or popcorn balls, parents could see at a glance if a lollipop or sour ball was safe for their child. Today, it is a commonplace practice for a parent to monitor an end-of-night “pillowcase dump,” removing all of the non-wrapped or homemade treats their child collected over Halloween night to ensure their safety.
New Horizons in Candy
Years ago, those with diabetic concerns or dietary restrictions couldn’t join the enthusiastic celebration of sugary delights each October. Thankfully, research into food and delicious alternative candy making methods have changed that necessity, allowing everyone to enjoy the seasonal fun of trick-or-treating. Specialty sweets like sugar free chocolate covered treats and gluten-free gummies are growing in popularity and becoming easier to find, ensuring that candy lovers can chow down without worry. Even those with nut allergies have found that more stringent candy-labeling requirements in recent years can help keep them safe while they ring doorbells and mingle at Halloween parties.
With generations of excited fans bolstering its continued popularity, candy of all varieties will grace pillowcases, buckets and makeshift bags for many Halloween nights to come. That makes for a sweet future indeed!