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Goblins, ghouls scare up some big candy sales

When it comes to candy sales, Halloween makes retailers shriek -- with delight.

Oct. 31 is the candy industry's perennial top holiday. In 2005, sales of sweets hit the $2.1 billion mark, a 2.3 percent increase from 2004 Halloween candy sales, reports the National Confectioners Association.

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Giving -- and eating -- candy during key U.S. holidays accounts for about a quarter of all confectionery sold during the year, says the NCA. Since 1995, Halloween has beat out Easter when it comes to candy consumption. Sales during Christmas-season holidays and Valentine's Day round out the sweets market.

Holidays or no holidays, America's sweet tooth is keeping candy makers and sellers (not to mention dentists) smiling.

In 2005, each American consumed 26 pounds of candy. Of course, that's an average so some of us made up for friends and family with more willpower. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that much of that candy probably was eaten by kids the evening of Oct. 31 and the next few days.

Cravings help drive the economy
Consumer candy cravings also were a big contributor to the U.S. economy.

Census researchers report that 1,198 manufacturing establishments in 2005 produced $13.6 billion worth of chocolate and cocoa products. It took 38,718 employees to make the goodies, with California and Pennsylvania leading the nation in the number of production facilities. The Golden State had 128 chocolate operations; 121 were in the Keystone State.

Another 477 establishments manufactured nonchocolate confectionery products in 2005. They employed 21,389 people and shipped $7.6 billion worth of goods that year. California again led the nation in this category, say Census statisticians, with 73 manufacturers.

Candy corn makes up a good portion of the nonchocolate goodies produced each year. More than 35 million pounds of the multicolored miniature triangles are made for Halloween, according to the NCA. That's enough to circle the moon twice (if laid end-to-end) and still leave plenty of candies to fill 600,000 bushel baskets to their brims.

Some additional Halloween and candy facts:

  • Around 36.1 million trick-or-treaters hit neighborhood streets on Oct. 31, 2006 -- down by 45,000 in 2005.
  • There are 109.6 million potential stops for the goody seekers. This is the number of housing units the Census Bureau says are occupied year-round.
  • While Americans love candy, they are no competition for the Danes. Denmark's residents consume approximately 36 pounds per person each year.
  • Older children are significantly more likely to prefer chocolate than younger children. The younger consumers prefer hard candies.
  • The first milk chocolate was created in Switzerland in 1876.
  • The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature, which is why it literally melts in your mouth.
  • A typical 1.5-ounce chocolate bar contains 15 percent of the recommended daily value for riboflavin.

So just how do you gauge your Halloween candy needs? You can start by counting the number of 5-to-13-year-old kids who live in your area. That's the primary age range, says the Census Bureau, of candy seeking ghouls and goblins.

But don't forget to get a little something for the older "kids." Ninety percent of parents admit to sneaking a few goodies from their children's trick-or-treat bags. Miniature chocolate bars are their favorite treat to snitch.


-- Updated: Oct. 12, 2007




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