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, 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.

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01 of 08

When did trick-or-treating start?

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, children played mischievous pranks, though, 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

Why was Halloween almost canceled?

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.

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03 of 08

Why do we wear costumes on Halloween?

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.

04 of 08

What countries celebrate Halloween?

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.

05 of 08

What's the most popular type of trick-or-treating candy?

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

06 of 08

How long does Halloween candy last?

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, and enjoy them within six months.

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07 of 08

What is candy corn made of?

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

How much candy corn is made every year?

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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