After years of dressing up with friends and knocking on doors, it may feel like Halloween is a deeply rooted tradition, celebrated by generations and generations of America’s children. 

Actually, Halloween, as we know it, is a relatively new tradition.

Image courtesy of Evolve & Co

Due to post World War II sugar rations, when Trick or Treating became standard practice in America, children were equally as likely to receive candy as they were coins, fruits, home baked goods, and toys. Kool-Aid and Kellogg’s even promoted non-candy Halloween treats through their 1950’s advertisements. Due to rising safety concerns, candy brands started pushing their wrapped treats, resulting in pre-packaged candy becoming the only acceptable treat by the 1970’s. 

Before we dive into how Halloween has changed since then, let’s take a trip down memory lane - Halloween candy edition.


The pillowcases of trick or treaters in the 50’s featured candies like Necco Wafers, Junior Mints, Atomic Fire Balls, and Satellite Wafers. This was also the time of Mars 6-packs - Mars “24’s”, a pack containing something for everyone, from Snickers to Milky Way.


Enter the 60’s, the decade of Now & Laters, Razzles, Fizzies, Flipsticks, and of course, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger. The princesses and fairies of the night were sure to enjoy a candy necklace or a pixy stix.

Image courtesy of Live Journal

The decade when candy became the norm for households to hand out allowed some of today's most cherished candies to enter the market. Combining the trick with the treat, kids were sure to go home with Fun Dip, Pop Rocks, Zots, Laffy Taffys, and bottle caps.


For those who trick or treated 40 years ago, you may remember all the rage of nerds, runts, skittles, and gummy bears, many of which are still the favorites of America. This was also the era of Big League Chew, which only the lucky ones would find on Halloween night.

Fast forward to 2022, Halloween candy is bigger than ever before, with consumers spending approximately $3 billion on sweet treats to give away to ghosts and goblins. But how much have these treats changed over the years, and how are households reacting to growing health concerns?

A recent survey found the top 5 favorite Halloween candy of America. Making the list are M&M’s, Reese’s, Kit Kats, Snickers, and Hershey Bars. Unsurprisingly, black licorice ranked as the most hated candy. Despite these favorites, and unfavorite, being classics, there has been some innovation when it comes to Halloween candy.

In the recent years, Jelly Belly has come out with their popular Bean Boozled game that may have some unlucky Trick or Treaters eating ‘dirty socks’ or ‘canned dog food’. If you really want to make kids laugh, put a few dill pickle and mac and cheese candy canes on your front steps this year (and yes, you read that right). Or, if you feel like a classic trick, give some ghouls the heebie jeebies with insect lollipops this Halloween.

Unfortunately, not all kids (or adults for that matter) can have a carefree Halloween, since 1 in 13 (8%) children can’t eat certain candies due to food allergies.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is working to make trick or treating safer for these 5.6 million children with food allergies. By placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep, children with allergies know that in addition to candy, your house has non-food items to give away.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Some non-candy items that the Teal Pumpkin Project suggests passing out are glow sticks, bubbles, bouncy balls, vampire fangs, and other small trinkets. Play-doh even has a Halloween edition mini set, sure to brighten the night of a child with a food allergy.

For the kids without an allergy, nothing is stopping them from collecting up to 7,000 calories and 3 cups of sugar worth of candy.

A recent study found that parents have a tendency to underestimate the amount of sugar consumed by their children, leading to potentially negative health consequences. The good news is that some innovative brands are making conscious sugar-related decisions easier than ever. For parents, and non-parents, interested in providing children with healthy and exciting options this Halloween, we have a few ideas for you. 


SmartSweets Halloween gummy worms are a great choice, containing just 4 grams of sugar. However, healthy Halloween treats still come at a cost ($20 for 6 packages).

Dove Promises Dark Chocolate Almond Candy

These individually wrapped, dark chocolate squares will fill Trick or Treaters’ jack-o-lanterns with a little fiber and protein. At 43 cents per candy, this choice is great if you live in a popular neighborhood.

Image courtesy of The Natural Vibe
YumEarth Organic Pops

These organic fruit flavored lollipops are vegan, gluten-free, free from artificial dyes, artificial flavors, and high fructose corn syrup. This is one of the more economical options at 18 cents per lollipop. 

Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Justin’s all organic, dark chocolate cups are not only a delicious choice for Halloween, but as a Rainforest Alliance-certified brand, they can also teach children about sustainable consumption. However, at $32 for $12 packages, this option is not wallet-friendly. 

Project 7 Sour Worms

Plant-based, 3 grams of sugar, 18 grams of fiber, and just 60 calories - yes, we’re talking about candy. Project 7 is a great alternative to typical Halloween candy but, unsurprisingly, has a price tag that may be too high for a lot of Trick or Treaters, at $2.25 per bag.

Some may say that the lack of healthy, fun, innovative, and affordable Halloween treats is the scariest part of the night. Do we have to choose? Can’t children have a happy and healthy holiday? Here at Compass Marketing, we specialize in developing new and innovative ideas and approaches to addressing these often untapped markets and partnering with our clients to bring these innovations to life. Interested in achieving sustainable growth by targeting the health and wellness consumer, then let’s talk.  

Caroline Andrews

Caroline is a Bentley University senior studying marketing, media and entrepreneurship. At Compass Marketing, she manages all the Social Media and Content marketing efforts in addition to assisting with business development activities.

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