8 Fun Halloween Facts to Get You Excited for October 31

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

You probably know that Halloween always falls on October 31, but beyond that, how much do you really know about Halloween? Here, learn fun facts about this spooky holiday, candy corn, and trick-or-treating—including how it gained popularity in the United States.

01 of 08

The Start of Trick-or-Treating

Little children trick-or-treating

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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 peoples' 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.

In the 1800s, when trick-or-treating first became popular in the United States, children played mischievous pranks rather than asking 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.

02 of 08

Halloween Was Once Almost Canceled

Halloween Candy
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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 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 from 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. Eventually, homemade treats like popcorn, doughnuts, and candied apples made way for the pre-packaged candy that's given out today.

03 of 08

Why We Wear Costumes

Thrills & Chills Halloween Pumpkin Dog & Cat Costume


Costumes 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 and offer a short performance. They were rewarded with food if the neighbors couldn't guess their identities.

04 of 08

Countries That Celebrate Halloween

Children covering face with Jack O Lantern bucket in front of house
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The candy-collecting tradition has spread from the United States to Canada, Australia, and Western Europe.

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.

05 of 08

The Most Popular Type of Trick-or-Treating Candy

Grab Your Trick-or-Treat Bag Because These Halloween Candies Just Hit Stores

Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater's loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.

06 of 08

Halloween Candy Expiration

candy bars in fake pumpkins
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In the event that the spoils aren't scarfed down immediately, separate the chocolate from the rest 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, and enjoy them within six months.

07 of 08

Candy Corn's Ingredients

Halloween Candy Corn Jell-O® Shots

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.

08 of 08

Amount of Candy Corn Produced Every Year

Pets Halloween Toys and Costumes

The National Confectioners Association reports that approximately 35 million pounds of candy corn are manufactured each year, amounting to almost 9 billion kernels.

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