The idea of children trick or treating door to door, and given candy for Halloween, gained acceptance in the 1920s. Immediately, certain types of candy rose to the surface to become favorites — the first being Baby Ruth, which was introduced in 1920. The 1930s saw 3 Musketeers bars take the lead among the top-sellers. Other candy that became favorites for kids and adults alike include Hershey’s Chocolate bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Milk Duds (introduced in 1928) and Milky Way. Additional favorites of the era included Good & Plenty, Boston Baked Beans, Lifesavers, Smarties and Turkish Taffy. Almost all of these top sellers of the 1920s and 30s and the early days of Halloween trick or treating remain on the top-selling Halloween candy list to this day. Yet once the Boomer Generation appeared, tastes — and products — began to change. Here is a list of top-selling Halloween candy for the boomer decades of the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, the years when boomer children roamed the streets yelling “trick or treat!”
The first boomer children appeared in 1946, so technically they would not be out and about under their own power until the early 50s. Mister Boomer is including the 40s here because it sheds some light on the favorites list during the boomer years. In 1941, M & Ms were introduced, and very quickly became a top-selling favorite with its candy-coated shell, burst of chocolate and “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” technology. Other favorites boomers would soon recognize include Bazooka Bubble Gum, Jolly Ranchers and Almond Joy. So it can be said the earliest boomers tasted the favorite Halloween candy that their parents grew up with.
The Boomer Generation was gaining steam, and so was the candy industry as it tried to influence the tastes of a new generation. In 1954, Atomic Fireballs were introduced. These spicy, cinnamon-infused jawbreaker candies held the favorite spot for a few years as boomer children helped expand the choices their parents had for Halloween treats. It was the Atomic Age, and now boomers had something they could call their own. Continuing the expansion beyond the perennial chocolate favorites were Necco Wafers — around for the previous 50 years; Satellite Wafers — new to the decade and black licorice — which made a bit of a comeback from turn of the century during the early boomer years.
Boomers saw Mike & Ike, Pixy Stix and Starburst candies rise among the top-selling Halloween candy in the 1960s. However, the number-one seller for the decade was a newcomer, SweeTarts, which were introduced in 1963.
The top-selling Halloween candy of the 1970s was Laffy Taffy. Also making the list were Pop Rocks and Blow Pops.
Mister Boomer remembers them all, up through the 1960s when his trick or treating days ended. His family all had their own favorites. For Brother Boomer, it was Chunky candy bars, Chuckles and Necco Wafers, most of which were decades old in terms of Halloween treats. He wanted to trade to get them, willingly giving up malted milk balls, Milk Duds or Smarties. When insufficient trading occurred among the siblings, he didn’t mind pilfering his favorites from Mister B’s or his sister’s bags. Mister Boomer quickly caught on and hid some from his brother, leaving a sacrificial piece to avoid suspicion. Mister B’s sister immediately fell head-over-heels for SweeTarts, but she also loved Milk Duds, Dots and Good & Plenty. His mother looked to raid her children’s collected candy booty for Milky Way bars, which she would pop into the freezer to eat frozen. His father’s hunger for Butterfingers could not be satiated.
As for Mister B, he was partial to a wide range of Halloween candies, but he especially liked chocolate. Snicker’s, Mounds, Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Rasinets and more were welcome in the pillow case holding tank. Still, Smarties, malted milk balls, Squirrels and peanut butter kisses were more than acceptable. What he did not like in his bag were homemade popcorn balls, apples (regular or candied), suckers or pennies. Some people would give one cent coins to each child. Mister B could count on getting five or so cents, which he saved to spend on penny candy once his Halloween cache had been consumed, but still, he did not like receiving coins in his bag.
How about you, boomers? Are your favorites on the top-selling list?