A form of Halloween has been celebrated since ancient times, when the Celts would celebrate the end of harvest and usher in the beginning of winter. Immigration during the second half of the 19th century helped to establish the distinctly American Halloween traditions we have today. Since the 1920s, trick-or-treating has become a delicious tradition for kids throughout the world. In America, the candy available as well as consumer’s preferences have changed a lot through the last century. Here are some of the most popular candies from throughout the decades.
1920s: Baby Ruth
Other popular candies that came out during the 20’s were: Oh Henry!, Haribo gold Bears, PEZ, Abba-Zabba, Charleston Chew, Reese’s, and Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum. The most popular however was the Baby Ruth, which debuted in 1921 and featured peanuts, caramel, and milk chocolate-flavored nougat. The candy bar, actually named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, reached $1 million worth of sales a month by 1926.
1930s: 3 Musketeers
When it was first introduced, the candy bar actually did have 3 different flavors- chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Because of rations during the war, the vanilla and strawberry were dropped leaving just the chocolate mousse filling. Other notable mentions from the 30’s include: Snickers, PayDay, Red Hots, Sugar Babies, 5th Avenue, Boston Baked Beans, Big Hunk, and Chick-O-Stik.
After being introduced 1941, M&M’s became so popular that not even a decade later, the “m” started to be stamped on them to distinguish real candies from counterfeits. Other popular candies included: Almond Joy, Jolly Ranchers, Bazooka Gum, Junior Mints, Fun Dip, York Peppermint Patties, and Smarties.
1950s: Atomic Fireballs
After their release in 1954, the candy became an instant hit because of their unique spicy flavor. The process to create them takes two weeks and consists of over 100 hundred layers of the cinnamon flavored coating. Today they sell over 15 million candies every week! Other candies released during the 50s include: Pixy Stix, Hot Tamales, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, Candy Necklaces, Dum-Dum Lollipops.
With the success of Pixy Stix and Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip came the inevitable mess that often left mothers unhappy. In response, SweeTarts were created, keeping the same taste and flavors kids loved while eliminating the potential for mess. Fruity flavors seemed to have dominated this decade, with other popular candy options being: Razzles, Swedish Fish, Lemon-Head, Mike & Ike, Now and Later, 100 Grand Bar, and Starburst.
1970s: Laffy Taffy
The fun joke on their wrapper and their distinct texture helped to name this popular taffy treat. Other popular treats from this decade include fun favorites such as: Pop Rocks, Everlasting Gobstopper, Sour Patch Kids, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Reese’s Pieces, Ring Pop, Bottle Caps,
1980s: Sour Patch Kids
The little gummy kids were originally named Mars Men and came in lemon, lime, orange, and cherry. Other 80’s candies include: Skittles, Twix, Big League Chewing Gum, Skor, Runts, Cow Tales, and Nerds.
The inventor of Airheads, Steve Bruner, chose the name after asking his son what he would call someone who did something silly. The slogan “A new high on fruity flavors”, was created to appeal to consumers coming out of the hippie generation, which also gave inspiration for the iconic balloon face. Other popular 90’s candies include: Dove Chocolate Bars, Cry Baby Bubble Gum, Baby Bottle Pops, Warheads, Reese’s Nutrageous Bar, and eFrutti Gummy Candies.
2000s: Nerds Rope
The original Nerds candy became insanely popular, featuring two flavors on either side of the candy’s box. Supposedly, an employee at the Nerds factory left for lunch after pouring a gummy candy mixture over a bowl of Nerds. When he returned, the delicious creation became the inspiration for Nerds Rope, a gummy rope covered in Nerds. Today, 150 million Nerds are used every single day just to produce Nerds Ropes. Other notable candy from the early 2000s include: Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Wonder Balls, Squeeze Pops, Oreo Cakesters, and Hershey Kissables.
2010s: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented in 1928 by Harry Burnett Reese, who gained inspiration after working in a chocolate factory for The Hershey Company. Today, Hershey sells over $500 million worth of Reese’s cups every year. Despite endless new flavors of popular treats coming out – such as Hershey’s candy corn bar, the most popular candies are the old favorites of Skittles, Reese’s, Candy Corn, Kit Kat, Snickers, and M&M’s. The actual best-selling candy is usually debated and varies greatly by state.
Every year for Halloween, Americans consume almost 600 million pounds of candy- 90 million of which is sold during Halloween week alone. Whatever your favorite candy may be, we hope you enjoy a treat-filled Halloween!