How Quickly Did Boomers Eat Their Halloween Candy?

Now that another Halloween has passed, parents everywhere are left with the age-old dilemma of how much of the candy their children collected should they allow their kids to eat — and over what span of time. To set the current scene, there are some recent statistics available that can shed some light on the subject:

• A study conducted in 2021 concluded that 80% of kids eat all of their Halloween candy in one week.
• A study conducted in 2019 revealed that 86% of parents admitted to eating candy from their kids’ Halloween haul; the same study stated that nearly 60% of parents hid some of their kids’ Halloween candy in order to control or pace out their consumption of sugar.

In the boomer years, there were no such studies readily accessible. There were annual warnings of cavity-inducing threats from dentists and sugar-poisoning cautions from dietitians and nutritionists, but to boomer kids, such pronouncements sounded like the “wah, wah, wah” of the adult-speak in the Peanuts cartoons and comics. Ergo, Mister Boomer can only relay his own experiences, and the thoroughly unscientific polling he has conducted among his boomer friends. Basically, Mister B’s inquiries echoed the recent studies. Some boomers did fiercely tear through their candy bags in one week, though others took more time. Most boomers did recall that their parents ate some of their candy from their bags. However, this is where the similarities end.

In Mister Boomer’s case, he and his siblings differed in their approaches to post-Halloween candy consumption. Mister B’s parents issued an annual edict that no more than two or three pieces of candy should be eaten in any one day, but that was regarded as more of a guideline than a rule since Mister B and his siblings were in possession of their own bags. Brother Boomer attacked his treasure and if not in one week, certainly within two weeks, his cache would be gone. Mister Boomer and his sister took more time. This grasshopper-and-ant tale led Brother Boomer to very often beg for a morsel from each. Mister Boomer strongly suspected (to this day) that Brother Boomer happily stole from his bag regularly, since Mister B kept a loose inventory of his own supplies.

For Mister Boomer, it was somewhat of a game, trying to see how long he could stretch out eating the candy, with Thanksgiving as the end goal. Most years, Mister B could do that. One recent study Mister B found suggested that the average number of houses “hit” by children on Halloween was 30 … that number seemed mighty low to Mister Boomer. From the ages of 8 to 12, Mister B, like his neighborhood denizens, attempted to cover blocks and blocks of homes — far beyond 30 houses — to reach, in his estimation, more than 100. Each year neighborhood kids aspired to fill pillow cases with candy, though hardly any ever reached much past halfway. Still, it was a considerable collection.

In Mister Boomer’s situation, his parents immediately weighed in to check the booty at the end of the night. At the same time, it was understood by Mister Boomer and his siblings that the “fee” for this bag-check would be some on-the-spot confiscation. Two or three pieces of their favorites were targeted; for his mother, it was Milky Way, and for his father, it was Butterfingers.

Some boomers reported that their parents literally took away some of their candy on Halloween night, allowing them only a certain amount. Others allowed a grace period on Halloween, but portioned out what their children would eat in the days that followed. Mister Boomer and his siblings had full control of their bags, so no appreciable quantity was hidden or taken away, other than the sacrificial tokens required here and there for the duration. In later years, Mister Boomer recalls people bringing in “excess” candy into the workplace. Mister B felt sorry for his co-workers’ children.

How about you, boomers? Did you maintain possession of your Halloween candy? And how long did it take to consume your bag of treats?

Boomers Shaped Decades of Halloween Candy Favorites

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?