The History of The Billion Dollar Trick-or-Treating Industry

By Mirabella Booth

It's hard to imagine a Halloween without trick-or-treating. But trick-or-treating on Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon. If you were to go back sixty years you would likely find many Americans who had never encountered a trick-or-treater. One might ask themselves: How did this Halloween staple gain so much popularity and become the beloved tradition it is today.

In the early 1900s, the candy industry thrived on holidays such as Christmas and Easter but during Halloween trick-or-treaters would receive coins, toys, and nuts, rather than candy. Candy sales were relatively slow during the fall season. The candy industry concluded that they needed a fall holiday to boost fall candy sales. This led to the candy industry’s creation of Candy Day. Candy Day, celebrated the second Saturday of October, was a clever way for the industry to make more money. Advertised as a day of goodwill and friendship, parents were quick to hop on board and buy copious amounts of candy.

Meanwhile, Parents were looking for an organized activity to keep their children out of trouble on Halloween. With the mass production of candy for Candy Day, parents found that it was much more convenient to give out the prepackaged candy already on the shelves and leftover from Candy Day.

After seeing this shift, the candy industry directed their attention away from Candy Day and towards selling candy for Halloween. By the 1970s, Candy Day became obsolete, and the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating for candy became a staple in American culture.

Today, Americans buy about 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween every year. Enough to fill about six Titanics. 95% of Americans purchase Halloween candy with the average consumer spending about $87. These numbers are predicted to only increase as Halloween trick-or-treating becomes more popular and spreads across the globe.