Trick or treat! Halloween is the one day of the year devoted almost exclusively to candy, and it’s also the time of year when obscure, hard-to-find, and disgusting candies (we’re looking at you, candy corn) start showing up on store shelves and later in children’s trick-or-treat bags.
So what are America’s least-favorite Halloween candies (or candies in general, for that matter)? And why do century-old, disgusting candies like clove-flavored Necco Wafers and circus peanuts still get manufactured?
What Are America’s Least-Favorite Halloween Candies: What The Data Says
Taste is, of course, subjective. What your children find delicious, your neighbor’s children may hate. But while kids may argue over the finer points of Almond Joys vs. Twix or Starburst vs. Skittles, they may very well wind up with some candies that almost everyone, universally, hates.
And when it comes to sales figures in a billion-dollar industry like confectionery manufacturing, you can bet that someone has crunched the numbers. And when there are numbers to be crunched, leave it to Forbes.
And this time last year, the money and finance magazine looked at the data, and found that, in terms of retail sales anyway, some of America’s least-favorite candies are (in no particular order):
- Candy Corn
- Circus Peanuts
- Necco Wafers
- Peanut Butter Kisses (aka “Mary Janes”)
- Licorice (excluding Twizzlers)
Conversely, in case you were wondering, America’s most-favorite Halloween candy, as of this time last year, anyway, includes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&M’s, Twix, Kit Kat, and Snickers, to almost no one’s surprise.
So Why Are These Unpopular Candies Still A Thing?
The law of supply and demand: If there were no demand, there would be no supply. Ergo, the manufacturers of these candies keep the machines running because people keep buying them.
Well, old people and Halloween cheapskates.
Older people dig the tastes of older candies, even ones that haven’t been popular for decades, out of nostalgia. That’s why when the manufacturer of Necco Wafers, which had been producing disgusting candy for almost two centuries, almost went out of business last year, what few fans the candy had left collectively wept and gnashed their teeth, as the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. Yes, there truly were and are people who enjoy the taste of Civil War-era clove-flavored dust.
But that demand for those disgusting candies manifests itself in other ways, too: namely via the 10-pound, $5.99 candy assortments that you buy at your local grocer every year around this time. Assortments made with more popular candies cost more (see a couple of paragraphs above, where we mentioned supply and demand), while assortments made with less-popular candies cost less.
In other words, nobody goes into Halloween thinking “I’m going to give kids Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, and circus peanuts!” Rather, those things simply end up in assortments bought by, shall we say, “budget-conscious” consumers, and then they end up in kids’ trick-or-treat bags and from there they end up in the trash.
It may not be the most elegant business model, but it works. And that’s why your little angel or little devil is almost certainly going to come home with at least one or two disgusting candies that your grandmother might have liked, but that your little tot will gladly throw away.