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Get ready for trick-or-treating with these nuggets of information.

By Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate
Updated September 16, 2020
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You probably know that Halloween always falls on October 31, but beyond that, you may not know too many Halloween facts. Here, learn fun facts about Halloween, candy corn, and trick-or-treating—including how it gained popularity in the United States.

Halloween trivia and fun facts

  • The candy-collecting tradition has spread from the United States to Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, where more and more little goblins now trick-or-treat. In parts of England, children carry lanterns called punkies (which look like jack-o’-lanterns) and parade through the town on the last Thursday of October. In Ireland, rural neighborhoods light bonfires, and children play snap apple, in which they try to take a bite from apples that are hung by strings from a tree or a door frame.
  • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.
  • In the event that the spoils aren’t scarfed down whole hog, separate chocolate out and keep it in a cool, dark, dry place. Milk chocolate is good for no more than eight to 10 months, while dark lasts up to two years. Hard candy will also keep in a cool, dry place for about a year. Store soft candies in a covered dish away from direct heat and light. Enjoy them within six months.
  • If you find yourself with more candy than you know what you do with, put your leftover Halloween candy to good use.

Candy corn facts

  • Candy corn has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company since around 1900.
  • What's in that recipe, exactly? Sugar, corn syrup, and marshmallow.
  • One serving (about 30 pieces) has 140 calories, the equivalent of three miniature Hershey bars.
  • The National Confectioners Association reports that approximately 35 million pounds of candy corn are manufactured each year, amounting to almost 9 billion kernels.

Fun facts about trick-or-treating—plus why we go trick-or-treating

  • Candy collecting is an excellent way to ward off mischief.
  • Trick-or-treating harks back to the Middle Ages and All Souls’ Day, when poor people in Britain would beg for soul cakes, a sweet-bread treat, and pray for dead relatives in return.
  • In the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants coming to North America brought with them the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, replete with trick-playing and fortune-telling.
  • When trick-or-treating first became popular in the United States in the 1800s, more children played mischievous pranks than asked for candy.
  • Back then, pranks were mild. “Shop signs were switched, gates disassembled, and flour-filled socks were flung at those wearing black coats," explains Lisa Morton, author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween.
  • Over time, the mischief evolved into straight-up vandalism—and residents often awoke on November 1 to broken windows or even blazing fires. At the height of the Great Depression, some cities considered banning the holiday. But city planners in Chicago had a better idea—to busy idle hands of potential troublemakers with festivities and encourage homeowners to do the same. Because money was scarce, families often held “house-to-house parties” which kept the children moving door to door for a different entertainment or treat. Ring a bell?
  • By the 1950s, the focus had switched to good old family fun, with sugar-hyped children dressed in costumes. Homemade treats like popcorn balls, doughnuts, and candied apples were common offerings prior to the ’50s, but as the popularity of trick-or-treating grew, pre-packaged candy became the norm.
  • So why the costumes? Those are likely to have been inspired by an early 20th century German American Christmas practice called belsnickling, in which costumed groups would visit neighbors’ houses, offer a short performance, and then were rewarded with food if the neighbors couldn’t guess their identities.