Halloween wouldn't be the same without M&M's and Starburst. Here's what we know about how much trick-or-treating really shapes the day.
Photo: Slgckgc / Flickr

Another year, another opportunity for sweet-toothed kids to march around the block in pursuit of M&M's, Hershey's bars, Kit Kats, Reese's, Skittles, and Starburst -- and hopefully very, very few Tootsie Rolls -- come Halloween. But while Americans' preoccupation with candy on Halloween is no secret, just how much has trick-or-treating shaped us as a society, really? Well, according to statistics from the National Confectioner's Association, that would be a lot.

For starters, Halloween (unsurprisingly) drives a ton of business for the candy industry, with spending estimates on candy alone last year totalling about $2.6 billion. It's unlikely that this year will fall short of that, considering that about 76 percent of households plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year. About 50 percent of households saying they typically give two pieces of candy per kid, and 22 percent of households saying they give three.

Interestingly trick-or-treaters in the Midwest, might have better luck building their candy stash: that's where the biggest majority of households who plan to hand out candy this year are. (It might be time to move, in the name of Snickers.) Then there's a whole parent/trick-or-treater dynamic that comes along with Halloween. Sure, trick-or-treating is for the kids, but just how much benefit do parents reap from their children's candy-collecting efforts? Apparently, about the same percentage as households handing out candy in the first place. A whopping 72 percent of parents admit to indulging in their kids' Halloween stash. And while there are those who go about it democratically -- 44 percent of parents say that they have a "must share" rule that is enforced in the house -- there's another 25 percent of parents who admit to sneaking candy from their kids, either after they've fallen asleep or after they've gone off to school for the day. (Another 22 percent of parents say that they don't sneak sweets or make their kids share their candy at all, though we're not entirely sure we're buying that.)

Naturally, the kids most prone to parental pilfering are younger kids who can't necessarily keep track of their haul. So while mom and dad might feel fine dipping into their 3 year old's trick-or-treat bag, tweens are less likely to have to share candy with their parents. Of course, that's not to say that trick-or-treating is the only source of candy come Halloween. In fact, October as a whole is likely to see a lot (57 percent, to be exact) of fully-stocked office candy bowls and candy-filled treat bowls around the house. So really, Halloween has created a culture around candy that goes well beyond the night of October 31. Which is good news, since any dedicated trick-or-treater knows that a good Halloween haul can last well into the New Year.

When you have more candy than you know what to do with, try baking it into shortbread:


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