There are a lot of great traditions surrounding Halloween: carving pumpkins, throwing graveyard smashes and trick-or-treating. Since the 1920s, going door-to-door and begging for candy has been a favorite pastime for children around the United States. Little girls and boys will dress up as ghosts, witches, cowboys and cats and get treats — or else. I mean, what’s not to like about that? And while the technical aspects of trick-or-treating haven’t changed much in the past 100 years, the most popular candies certainly have.
Some confections, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s bars and the Baby Ruth have been popular ever since trick-or-treating came into vogue. But other candies have gone in and out of fashion (and production).
You’ll be hard-pressed to find many Boston Baked Beans, Oh Henry! bars or Satellite Wafers in many children’s pillowcases and plastic pumpkins this Halloween, but in decades past, they were all the rage. And some Halloween staples like Skittles, Laffy Taffy and AirHeads are far, far newer than you may think.
What was in your trick-or-treat bag when you were going door-to-door? Take a walk down memory lane and see the most popular Halloween candies of every decade.
Introduced in 1921, this candy bar made of peanuts, caramel and chocolate-flavored nougat was an instant hit for trick-or-treaters. Other popular Halloween candies of the roaring ‘20s include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Oh Henry! bars and Bit-O-Honey.
When it was first introduced in 1932, the 3 Musketeers bar consisted of three smaller whipped nougat chocolate-coated candies flavored with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry (hence the name). Other new and popular candies from the 1930s include the still-popular Snickers, candy buttons and Boston Baked Beans.
Fittingly titled, Atomic Fireballs are cinnamon-flavored orbs. They were created in 1954 and quickly became a favorite for adventurous children. In a general sense, 1950s candies were a little bit more subdued, with Necco Wafers, Satellite Wafers and black licorice-flavored treats winning over children.
Sugar was back in the 1960s, led by the new sugary and tart (and appropriately named) candy, SweeTARTS, which featured fruity flavors such as cherry, lime, lemon, orange and grape. Banana flavor was also huge with Necco’s Banana Splits and banana Slap Stix. Sugary, fruity candies such as Mike & Ike, Pixy Stix and Starburst were also hugely popular.
Though it seems like they’ve been around forever, Skittles weren’t widely distributed in America until 1982. Willy Wonka candies such as Runts and Nerds were also hugely popular. In general, fruity flavors carried over from the ‘70s to the ‘80s with popular candies such as gummy bears, Ring Pops and Sour Patch Kids.
Though technically introduced in the mid-1980s, out-of-control AirHeads were an iconic candy for ‘90s kids. Other playful favorites followed suit, with Baby Bottle Pops, Push Pops and Bubble Gum Jugs all being rare but coveted on Halloween. And who can forget the super-sour WarHeads? Try not to pucker when eating one of those.
The ‘80s and ‘90s trends continued well in to the 2000s, with the popularity of cookies and cream chocolate bars, Sour Patch Kids and of course the Nerds Rope. First introduced in the mid-‘90s, this gummy string candy with Nerds attached to it was a much-coveted big candy item.
What’s old is new again in the 2010s. Despite a movement towards healthier Halloween treats and new confections such as candy corn-flavored Hershey’s bars and innovative twists on M&M’s, classic candies are the most commonly found in trick-or-treat bags. The most popular candy of 2018 is Skittles, while other commonly found candies include M&M’s, Snickers and the ubiquitous Reese’s. Yes, whether it’s white, dark or milk chocolate, in a classic cup or shaped like a bat, it’s a guarantee this chocolate and peanut butter treat will show up in plenty of trick-or-treaters’ hauls. Some things never change. But you know what does change? The most popular Halloween costumes of every decade.
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