What was your favorite Halloween candy as a child trick or treating? I always hoped for Snickers bar, with those straws full of colored sugar, Pixy Stix’s coming in second. I wouldn’t pass up a Payday bar, Hershey’s Kisses, or M&M’s either.
The history of Halloween candy is a fascinating tale that has evolved over centuries, blending elements of ancient traditions, cultural influences, and commercialization. Halloween candy as we know it today is a product of various influences, and its story can be traced back to ancient customs, particularly the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows’ Day), and the commercialization of Halloween in the United States. The practice of “souling” emerged in medieval Europe, where the poor would go door to door on All Hallows’ Eve, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food, known as “soul cakes.”
Over time, this tradition evolved into “guising,” where children dressed in costumes and went door to door, performing tricks or reciting verses in exchange for food or money. Halloween was brought to North America by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century. It started as a harvest festival and evolved into a more community-based celebration. Trick-or-treating gained popularity in the United States during the early 20th century. Children would dress up in costumes and visit neighbors for candies and treats. The Great Depression and sugar rationing during World War II put a temporary damper on Halloween candy traditions. The candy industry recognized the marketing potential of Halloween in the mid-20th century, leading to the production of Halloween-themed candies.
Companies like Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé introduced Halloween-themed chocolates and candies, including bite-sized treats like “fun-sized” candy bars. The practice of giving away pre-packaged candy became the norm, replacing homemade treats and other small gifts. Candy corn, a popular Halloween treat, was created in the late 19th century by George Renninger and originally produced by the Wunderlee Candy Company.
Various types of Halloween-themed candies, chocolates, and gummies have since become staples of the holiday.
I decided to quiz some of my friends for their top 5 favorites. Laurel Ip replied with “Payday, Almond Joy, that weird strawberry candy that only grandma seems to have now”.
John Worley said “Actually I don’t remember going trick or treating except once and the only thing I remember getting was an apple. I can tell you my favorites now. Almond Joy, Snickers, M&Ms, Mounds, Reece’s peanut butter cups.” Lou Woods said “Sixlets, Gobstoppers, Smarties, Blowpops, KitKats, but hated getting redhots”.
Kacie Waters replied “I always liked Smarties, Pixy Stix, Milk Duds, Tootsie Roll Caramel Apple Pops, and Peanut M&M’s”. Mike Thompson said “M&M’s, M&M’s with peanuts, Almond Joy, Mounds, and Reeses”. Daniel Worley replied “Skittles, Blow Pops, Reeces Peanut Butter Cups, Sweet Tarts, Nerds” .
Pixy Stix are a popular powdered candy that is typically sold in a straw-like paper or plastic tube. These colorful and sweet confections are designed to be poured directly into the mouth and are known for their fruity flavors and vibrant hues. Pixie Stix are made from a mixture of sugar, flavoring, and food coloring, providing a sweet and tangy experience when consumed. They have been a favorite among children and candy enthusiasts for decades and are a nostalgic and iconic part of the American candy landscape.
Pam Mize said “Reese’s, caramel apples, Snickers, & Twix. In my day we had a neighbor who made homemade sugar goodies, they were beyond awesome!” Glenn Mize responded “Snickers, Reeses, Payday, Baby Ruth, and Caramel Apples”. Bill Rubin responded “M&M, Hershey bars, Reeces cups, Tootsie Rolls, and Bazooka Bubble Gum”.
Emily Dorris said “Ooh! Well, Snickers were definitely my favorite! Full size Reeses cups were next (the small ones were also great, but if you got the full-size ones, it was like hitting the jackpot). Smarties at number 3. Nerds at 4 and Atomic Fireballs at #5!” Jasmine Nelson said “I really hoped to get suckers like Dumdums or Blowpops, chocolates like Twix or KitKats, and was addicted to gummy candies like the SpongeBob Burger gummy candy or mini pack Haribo Goldbears. I know that’s more than five but those were my favs!”
Beau Howard said “Only one that matters to me is the crappy two-pack of Twizzlers. They’re nothing like real Twizzlers. They’re translucent. Different texture. Different flavor. Super cheap packaging that almost disintegrates when you touch it. Everything about them screams “cheapness,” and they are the best Twizzler product by far”.
Twizzlers are a licorice-type candy manufactured by Y&S Candies, Inc., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a division of The Hershey Company. Twizzlers were first produced in 1929 by Young and Smylie, as the company was then called. The licorice company was founded in 1845, making it one of the oldest confectionery firms in the United States. Twizzlers ingredients consist of corn syrup, wheat flour, sugar, cornstarch, and smaller amounts of palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, glycerin, citric acid, potassium sorbate, Red 40, and soy lecithin. Because only the black Twizzlers contain extracts of the licorice plant, Twizzlers products are collectively referred to as licorice-type candy. Seventy percent of the annual production of Twizzlers are strawberry, the most popular Twizzlers flavor.
Joe Burley responded “Reese’s, M&M, Kisses, Starburst, and Smarties”. Rose Williams said “Clark bars, Slow Pokes, Malt balls, Junior Mints and Sweet Tarts.” Gil Chapman replied “M&M, Tootsie Roll, Candy Corn, 3 Musketeers, and Butterfinger”. Michelle Lawhorn said “Snickers, KitKat, Reeces Chocolate/PB pumpkins, 3 Musketeers, and Jolly Ranchers”
Katie Lyday responded “Easy. Reese’s, Now and Later, Milky Way, Charms Blow Pops, and Twix”. Tim Worley said “Candy Corn, Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Tootsie Rolls, Sweet Tarts, Sugar Babies, and Hershey Bars. I can’t count”. Phil Worley replied “Reece’s, Mounds, Snickers, Almond Joys, and Milky Ways”.
Kelly Howard said “Mounds, Nerds, Reese’s Pieces, 3 Musketeers and anything full-sized”. Fletcher Howard replied “Almond Joy, Spree, Toblerone, Candy canes, and Snickers. Blythe Howard responded Skittles, Twix, Laffy Taffy, Kit Kat, and DumDums.
The Tobler chocolate factory was founded in 1899 by Emil Baumann (1880–1960) & Theodor Tobler (1876–1941) in Bern. At the time, the Swiss chocolate industry was expanding dramatically as recently invented milk chocolate became widespread. In 1908, Emil Baumann, the cousin of Theodor Tobler, created the unique recipe consisting of milk chocolate including white nougat, almonds, and honey. Theodor Tobler came up with the distinctive triangular shape and packaging. The product’s name is a combination of Tobler’s name and the Italian word torrone (a type of nougat).
Dalton Davis said “Reese’s cups, 3 musketeers, Snickers, Milky Way, and Tootsie Roll Caramel Apple Pops”. Trent Mize responded “Skittles, Snickers, Milky Way, Reese’s Pieces, and Peanut Butter M&Ms”.
Ann Menefee said “Peanut Butter Bars, Bit-O-Honey, Good & Plenty, I also love Halvah, but you wouldn’t see it at Halloween. It was a special treat when my Dad would go to the Arab market”. Kevin Scholberg replied “Anything chocolate, Tootsie Pops, Starbursts, Sweet Tarts, and Fruit Stripe Gum”.
Allison Georgeseu said “KitKat, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Sweet Tarts, and Nerds”. Kris Anderson responded “Snickers, Sugar Daddy, Milk Duds, Reese’s, and 100 Grand”. Donald Kell said “Sweet Tarts, Smarties, Tootsie Rolls, Baby Ruth and Chic-o-stix”. Victor Vinson replied “Candy bars like Almond Joy, Red Hots, Candied apples, Candy corn, and Caramel chews”.
Heather Burda said “Ohhh, Tootsie Rolls (the traditional chocolate), Sugar Daddies, Smarties, M&Ms, and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. And one house gave out those awesome Jawbreakers!! Don’t see those much anymore! Now the weirdest thing I got in my pillowcase from trick-or-treat was a small Bible!”
Jawbreakers, also known as gobstoppers in some regions, are a type of hard candy that is designed to be long-lasting and resistant to biting or breaking, hence the name “Jawbreakers.” These candies consist of multiple layers of colored and flavored sugar that gradually dissolve as they are sucked or licked. Jawbreakers come in various sizes, with the largest ones often taking a considerable amount of time to consume, making them a popular choice for people looking for a long-lasting sweet treat. They are enjoyed by people of all ages and have been a classic confection for decades.
Ken Frye responded “I vaguely remember liking Candy Corn and candy bars”. Wyatt Lawhorn said “Twizzlers, Crunch Bar, Milk Duds, Cookies’N’Cream Hershey Bars, and Nerds”. Donnie Thompson responded “We were happy with pretty much anything. My mother always took the mini Zero bars from us for herself.
I gave away anything that was licorice. We got a lot of Jolly Ranchers, Candy Corn, Tootsie Pops and a lot of those candies that were wrapped in either black or orange waxy paper that were exactly like Bit-O-Honeys”. Lyle Bufkin said “Hershey’s Kisses, Butterfinger, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, Snickers, and Peppermint Patties”.
Walter Lawhorn replied “I never got to go trick or treating … Personally, my favorites were Kit Kats and Candy Corn”. Kevin Lawhorn said “No trick or treating. We went to a few Halloween parties though. I was partial to Sugar Daddies and the round caramel Goetze’s Bulls-eyes.
Goetze’s Bulls-eyes, often simply referred to as “Bull’s-Eyes,” are a popular American candy known for their unique caramel and cream flavor combination. These bite-sized, individually wrapped candies are produced by the Goetze’s Candy Company, a family-owned confectionery that has been in operation for over a century. Bull’s-Eyes consist of a creamy, sweet center surrounded by a layer of chewy caramel, creating a distinctive taste and texture. These candies are recognized for their iconic cylindrical shape and are often enjoyed as a nostalgic and classic treat.
In summary, the history of Halloween candy is a blend of ancient customs, religious observances, and the commercialization of the holiday. It has evolved from Celtic traditions to become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States, with an array of candies and chocolates designed specifically for Halloween consumption.
Results of the Doyle’s Space Top Halloween Candies
|Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups||15|
|M&M’s (Plain or Peanut)||8|
|Tootsie Roll Caramel Apple Pops||2|
|Bazooka Bubble Gum||1|
|Cookies’N’Cream Hershey Bars||1|
|Fruit Stripe Gum||1|
|Good & Plenty||1|
|Now and Later||1|
|Peanut Butter Bars||1|
|SpongeBob Burger Gummy Candy||1|
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, introduced in 1928, have a rich history of combining smooth peanut butter and creamy milk chocolate. They were first created by H.B. Reese, a former dairy farmer, in his basement in Hershey, Pennsylvania. These iconic candies gained popularity and became an integral part of Hershey’s product lineup after H.B. Reese’s son took over the business. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have since evolved into a beloved American treat, with various iterations and sizes, including the famous Reese’s Pieces. They remain a staple in the world of confectionery, offering the perfect blend of sweet and salty flavors.
- Soul cakes were small, round, sweet pastries traditionally baked and shared during the medieval practice of “souling” on All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween). These cakes were made with simple ingredients such as flour, sugar, spices, and sometimes currants or raisins. People would go door to door, offering prayers for the deceased in exchange for soul cakes. The practice was especially common in England and other parts of Europe, and it evolved into the modern tradition of trick-or-treating during Halloween. The tradition of soul cakes and souling played a role in the development of Halloween customs we know today. [Back]
- Guising, an early form of Halloween tradition, involved children dressing in costumes and going door to door during All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), where they would perform tricks, sing songs, or recite verses in exchange for food, money, or other treats. This practice is believed to have its roots in medieval Europe, particularly in the British Isles, and was a precursor to the modern tradition of trick-or-treating. The term “guising” is derived from the word “disguise,” emphasizing the element of costumes and masks used to conceal the identities of those participating. Over time, guising transformed into the more familiar custom of dressing up and receiving candies and treats during Halloween, especially in the United States. [Back]
- George Renninger is credited with creating one of the most iconic Halloween candies, candy corn. In the late 19th century, he developed the recipe for candy corn while working for the Wunderlee Candy Company. Candy corn is a tri-colored, cone-shaped candy with a honey-flavored, sugary taste. Originally, it was made by hand, layering different colors and flavors of sugar syrup. Today, candy corn is a widely recognized Halloween treat enjoyed by people of all ages, and it remains a staple of Halloween candy offerings. [Back]
- “The Haunted History of Halloween Candy” (UPDATED: OCTOBER 3, 2023) https://www.history.com/news/the-haunted-history-of-halloween-candy
- “Best Halloween Candies of All Time, Ranked” (Updated on 9/19/2022) https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/best-halloween-candy
- “Halloween Candy, Ranked” (UPDATED OCT. 27, 2021) https://www.thecut.com/article/best-halloween-candy-ranked.html
- “The Best Halloween Candy of All Time, Super Scientifically Ranked from Trash to Tasty” (Sep 5, 2023) https://www.purewow.com/food/best-halloween-candy
- “A Definitive Ranking Of The Best (And Worst) Halloween Candy Of All Time” (UPDATED: SEP 27, 2023) https://www.delish.com/food/a37827339/best-and-worst-halloween-candy/
- Smithsonian Magazine. (2013). The Trick-or-Treat History of Halloween Candy. (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-trick-or-treat-history-of-halloween-candy-180956356/)