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The History of Halloween Candy

Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone is looking forward to the excitement that makes that one special night every year a treasured occasion. One of the most celebrated Halloween traditions is trick-or-treating. In fact, what more can you ask for from Halloween than the joy of free candy? Of course, the candy itself has an interesting history that seldom few consider. Candy has evolved over time, meaning the special treats we associate with the holiday have also become more themed to Halloween itself. Just consider some of the candy we buy in stories now: candy corn, pumpkin-shaped chocolates and those delicious gummies! Even variety packs that are filled with candy, like Hershey’s chocolate, is specially themed for Halloween. With that in mind, here is a brief overview that considers the history of Halloween candy!


The 1950s

Interestingly, Mars is no longer a candy that many people enjoy. Yet, in the 1950s, it was one of the most popular candy brands. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Forever Yours” bar that they no longer sell? Other popular candies include black taffy, which doesn’t sound as extravagant as some of the taffy candy we know and love today. Another popular favorite was the caramel creams, which is quite simply a chewy caramel candy with a cream center. Finally, and perhaps most unusual, was the popular trend of handing out cereal treat packs, most notably from the brand, Post. We certainly don’t see much cereal being handed out on Halloween nights these days, and frankly, we probably appreciate that these cereal packs have long been forgotten. 

The 1970s

I would like to begin by reminding everyone that the very popular movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came out in the 1970s. A movie with such an emphasis on candy and chocolate should certainly provide inspiration for the kinds of candy that people would hand out on Halloween. It turns out, this may have been true indeed! For example, some of the favorite candies from the 1970s include Jelly Belly, Laffy Taffy, Bubble Yum and Blow Pops.  Pop rocks also proved to be a very popular candy choice, during this busy decade. Finally, let’s not forget the widely loved Fun Dip, as it seemed candy with a twist of fun proved to be an enduring trend.

The 1990s

One of the most iconic candies of the 1990s was Airheads. Surprisingly, the candy actually emerged in the mid-1980s, but it appears that it was not actually a major deal until the 1990s. I’ve never been more proud to be a 90s kid when I discovered how popular some of my personal favorites, like Baby Bottle Pops and Push Pops, became. Of course, most of the Halloween candy I found during this decade appeared to be mostly the same as some of the favorites today, which leads me to…

The 2010s

According to most studies I found, it appears that the most commonly handed out candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Moreover, Reese favorites like Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Fast Break bars are also well-loved. Not surprisingly, today’s candy is the most diverse out of this list. You have the traditional candy found in these other decades combined with new concoctions. I often find chocolate like Reese’s or Hershey’s but with a new twist. For example, take the Hershey’s cookies and creme bars as an example of a modern take on a classic. However, there’s so much more than chocolate! Nerds are a popular choice, and with the advent of the Nerds rope, the tiny little candies only became cooler! 


Candy today is so widely disseminated, especially since candy from all over the world is finding its way to new consumers. One of my favorite treats is Pocky, a popular snack from Japan. With virtually unlimited possibilities, candy today is a huge marketing enterprise. Thus, the candy we work so hard for on Halloween night provides us with a huge range of options.

What Halloween candy do you enjoy the most?

Casey Crisp

Chapel Hill '19

Casey is a current Senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is double majoring in English and History and minoring in Global Film studies.  Casey enjoys reading fantasy fiction, listening to music, and writing her own creative fiction.
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