Can’t kill a classic SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2010
Novelties come and go, but chocolate reigns supreme in world of Halloween candy By JENNIFER C. YATES The Associated Press
In a block-long warehouse at the McKeesport Candy Co., wooden pallets are piled high with boxes of candy fangs, wax mustaches, peanut butter and chocolate pumpkins, even a bag of “blood” that resembles a hospital IV. “The grosser the candy, the better it’s going to sell,” says owner Jon H. Prince. While kids love gore and gimmicks when it comes to Halloween — how can you not love a pair of wax fangs? — experts say children still are drawn to the classics their parents favor when filling the family treat bowl every year. First on the list? Chocolate. “The truth is that there are many tried and true candy favorites, especially at Halloween,” says Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. “Holidays represent tradition and small traditional favorites are the true kid pleasers on Halloween night.” Sixty-eight percent of kids say they like to get treats made with chocolate, while 9 percent go for lollipops, 7 percent go for gummy candy and another 7 percent prefer gum, the association said. And last year sales of gummy candies were on the rise. But it’s not just the little colorful bears you might be used to. Think gory gummy — eyeballs, tongues, fingers, brains, even rats are all popular for Halloween. In all, Halloween candy accounts for about $2.2 billion in sales a year, the biggest holiday for confections after Easter. New variations of traditional treats help drive some of those sales, Smith says. Bethlehembased Just Born Inc., for example, is known primarily for its marshmallow Peeps candies at Easter. This year, the company has added Peeps Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins. According to Yahoo!, the top searched Halloween candy online are Hershey’s chocolate and Kisses, followed by Snickers, gummy bears and gum. Candy corn, that icon of Halloween treats that dates back to the 1800s, is No. 10 on the list. Halloween is the biggest and busiest time of year for The Hershey Co., which makes snack-sized Reese’s peanut butter cups, the Hershey’s chocolate bar, Twizzlers, KitKat bars and other candies.
Candy’s biggest night of the year OUR VIEWS
AP photo by Amy Sancetta
A Halloween creature holds a Hershey chocolate bar at a display inside Chagrin Hardware in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Experts say kids love the gimmicks at Halloween, but the classics, like this Hershey bar, remain strong sellers.
AP photo by John Heller
Third-generation candyman Jon Prince poses at his family's business, McKeesport Candy Company, in McKeesport, Pa. Prince said it's easy to see why kids — and adults, too — get so excited about candy. It's inexpensive and something that bridges generations. The company said its most popular brand at this time of year is the Reese’s cup, as well as its chocolate and peanut butter pumpkins. “Reese’s is magic,” says Rick Rocchi, who oversees marketing of Hershey’s brands around seasonal events such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. “Everyone remembers receiving beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups during their Halloween adventures.” The miniature chocolate bars known as “fun size” are a big Halloween seller for candy company Mars, says Debra Sandler, chief consumer officer for Mars Chocolate North America. New Jersey-based Mars makes several special products
for the holiday, including M&M’s Peanut Harvest Bags, Filled Bar Autumn Miniatures, and Dove Milk, Dark and Peanut Butter Harvest Promises. “Milky Way sells particularly well during Halloween as it is a traditional family favorite for trick-or-treating that parents remember getting as children,” Sandler says. In Anoka, Minn., which claims to be the Halloween Capital of the World with a holiday parade that started in 1920, Jen Thorkildson generally buys the smaller, snack-sized chocolate bars to hand out every year. And the 35-year-old mom’s two kids, ages 9 and 7, also head straight for the
Going for Gaga
Even in Eastern Oregon, pop star’s look is a popular pick this Halloween
By DOMINIC BAEZ East Oregonian
AP Photo by Richard Drew
Meredith Vieira, co-host of the NBC “Today” television program, dresses as Lady Gaga during their annual Halloween show, in New York, Friday.
chocolate once trick-or-treating is done. “The kids love getting 100 Grand Bars. Also a few people give out full size bars and they think that is really great,” Thorkildson says. In Pennsylvania, Britta Silver, 45, of Mt. Lebanon, buys six or seven bags of candy for Halloween every year. A mom of 7-year-old twins and a 4-yearold, Silver says she makes sure to buy candy like Reese’s peanut butter cups and Tootsie Rolls that the family likes — in case there are leftovers. “My older boys usually go for the chocolate candy bars first — Snickers and Hershey plain bars,” she said. “The little one finds all the straws with the powdered sugar in them, and eats those first, then finds all the chewing gum.” Just a few miles away, workers at the McKeeport Candy Co., which operates online as Candyfavorites.com, will be fielding calls and taking orders right up to the day before Halloween if necessary, said third-generation owner Prince. He tours the warehouse, stopping to show off the big sellers this time of year, which include the “blood” bags and even edible insects. Prince said it’s easy to see why kids — and adults, too — get so excited about candy. It’s about selling a piece of the past and bridging generations, he said, before pointing out a box of those iconic wax lips. “These are classic,” he said with an excited smile. “The lips have been around since time eternal.”
She skims the shelves of Halloween make-up, her vision hawk-like in its intensity, looking for a particular item. Up, down, back to the top shelf, turning around, her black hair flying every which way. As it turns out, finding silver body glitter is more difficult than anticipated, despite the nearby walls being plastered in everything from fake human blood to stringy witch hair. “How can they not have any?” she exclaims, throwing her hands in the air, knocking some cheap plastic vampire teeth off the shelf. As she reaches to pick them up, she shouts in excitement: “Yes! The last can! Awesome!” After greedily snatching the can from the shelf, sure it will be stolen from her if she doesn’t hurry, she continues her Walmart shopping endeavor (in a much perkier mood) to complete what she hopes will be a smashing success of a costume: an eye-catching, if slightly subdued, Lady Gaga. “How can you dress as Lady Gaga without being covered in shiny-ness? I got the fishnet stockings and the wig. Now I need all the sequin-covered material and body glitter I can get,” explains 19-year-old Amanda McLaw. “I mean, everyone knows that you can basically see her from space. Did you see her ‘Telephone’ video?” McLaw isn’t the only one channeling the well-known “Bad Romance” performer. And Lady Gaga isn’t the only cultural reference from which everyone from college students to soccer moms are drawing. In what could be emblazoned as a “less is
more” mentality, the skimpy, scantily clad figureheads of popular culture, including “California Gurls” singer Katy Perry (have you heard about her “Sesame Street” fiasco?) to Snooki of “Jersey Shore” fame to… Dr. Frank-n-Furter and Rocky Horror from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”? “We just watched ‘Glee’ last night, and we were inspired to re-create the costumes,” says Natalie Johane, speaking for herself and her boyfriend while perusing individual pieces. Their costume choice stemmed from Tuesday’s episode of “Glee,” titled “The Rocky Horror Glee Show,” a tribute to the cult classic 1975 film adaptation of the British musical stageplay. Johane says she is going as Dr. Frank-n-Furter, a selfproclaimed “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania,” while her boyfriend, Alex, will don the infamous gold boy shorts of Rocky Horror. “I look good in leather,” she quips, while refusing to delve any further into the subject. “Now I just need to find him a blond wig, some spray-on tanner… I wonder if they have anything to help make it looks like he has abs…” she muses. “He has a nice body, but some augmentation wouldn’t hurt,” she quickly backtracks. Johane plans on having some of the show’s more popular numbers blaring from her iPod as she wears the costume, acting as a sort of theme song. “If you’re going to go all out and wear revealing leather or gold lamé short shorts, you might as well go the whole damn way,” she says, laughing just thinking about the ridiculous
re you sure you aren't buying this for a business,” the clerk at Rite-Aid asked me as I pushed my cart filled with candy to the cash register and a manager looked at my cart in amazement. “I live near McKay School,” I explained. They both understood. Almost 20 years ago, when our family moved to Pendleton, I knew we were getting sidewalks and flat streets that would help my children become better bicycle riders. I knew we lived conveniently across one city park to their school, enabling me TERRY to spy during MURRY recess. What Home front I didn't know is we had moved to trick-or-treat bliss. That first Halloween we had to go out for more candy twice. The bell didn't stop ringing. Since backing out of the driveway is a dangerous proposition on a street filled with little goblins, we vowed never again to come up short on Halloween candy. Hence the filled to overflowing shopping cart. If there's candy left over it will become packaging material when I mail things to my kids. (And, I confess, a latenight snack for me.) There have been years when the flow of trick-ortreaters wasn't as constant as it was other years. Once it snowed. There have also been several rainy Halloweens, which distinctly cut down on the number of really little kids that rang my bell. I hate those years. Some people don't like Halloween and put together harvest festivals for the children to enjoy. That's great. This holiday should be about fun, however you have it. After living through 60 Halloweens I'm pretty sure the evening of ringing bells and getting treats doesn't have long-lasting, devil worshipping connotations for our next generation. The only tricks that have been played on me during all those events have been at the hands of my own relations (who actually do that all year long). The little ones, however, get very important lessons in both math and etiquette. "You can have any three," I tell them as I hold out the bowl. Three is apparently overly generous because their eyes always grow wide. Then they count. And then, without fail, each and every one of them says, "Thank you." I say you're welcome, but I really should say, "No, thank you." Thanks for showing me your costume. Thanks for asking for helping your toddler sibling count to three. Thanks for talking, under the watchful eyes of your parents, to strangers for one night a year. Thanks for not rolling my yard with toilet paper. To this adult, Halloween isn't really a time of scaring people and roaming around looking for mischief. It's a time for me to connect with a host of little girls and boys. As the troop of princesses and ghouls ring my door bell it's a time to reconnect with the next generation who — before you know it — will stop trick-ortreating and get their driver’s licenses. That, my friends, is when it gets really scary. ——— "Home Front" by Terry Murry is published every other Sunday. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.