Health Care and Candy

- October 24, 2013
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At the end of this month, All Hallows Eve, an explosion of candy greater than at any other time of the year is going to happen, whether you like it or not. The last day of October is historically celebrated in the US as Halloween, harkening back to the days when people believed in evil spirits, witches, goblins, and all things netherworldly.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition, according to It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.

The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween in the US had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism, and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.
Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday. Much more detail about this day can be found at this website:

According to, Halloween is the one time of year when American children are allowed to consume so much candy they run the risk of inducing a sugar rush of colossal magnitude. Between mouthfuls of Hershey’s, Twix, and Reese’s how much do you know about those sweet treats? Well, here are 12 fun facts you probably didn’t know about candy.

·         Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween.

·         An incredible 90 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during Halloween week, taking a strong lead compared to other holidays. Almost 65 million pounds is sold during the week leading up to Easter and only 48 million pounds during Valentine’s week.

·         Over 10% of annual candy sales happen the days leading up to Halloween — that is nearly $2 billion dollars in sales.

·         Chocolate is clearly the preferred choice of sweets for many. Of the $1.9 billion sold in Halloween candy each year, $1.2 billion was on chocolate candy and only $680 million on sugar candy.

·         The top selling candy: Candy Corn. Americans purchase over 20 million pounds of it a year, though it is unlikely that every last one of those millions of candies was actually consumed.

·         After the beloved Candy Corn, the leading best sellers are as follows: Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kat and M&M’S.

·         Candy Corn is the most searched-for candy term in Google — more popular than candy apples, gummy worms, and candy pumpkins. Searches for Candy Corn are up 10 percent from October, 2010.

·         Out of all 50 states, Alabama searched for candy corn the most!

·         Which state searched the most for organic candy? Colorado. Oregon searched most for gluten-free candy, and Kentucky took the lead in sugar-free.

·         This Halloween more people are searching for gluten-free candy than sugar-free candy. Google searches for gluten-free candy are currently 20 percent higher than searches for sugar-free candy.

·         The day of the year with the most candy sales? October 28th. And of all the 365 days in the year, the top five candy selling days are all in October.

Even though the economy has tightened everyone’s budget, that does not stop them from splurging on this one holiday. The average American household spends $44 a year on Halloween candy!
And what about kids? The average Jack-O-Lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar, according to the California Milk Processors Board. Not all of it gets eaten. Most U.S. children consume between 3500 and 7000 calories from candy on Halloween. This is a lot. “A 100-pound child who eats 7,000 calories worth of candy would have to walk for almost 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn those calories”,  says Dr. Donna Arnett, chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health, according to CNN. More info on this subject is available at this website:

Regardless of your feelings about Halloween, in general a lot of candy gets eaten. Make sure that you brush and floss after any of your treats, and be careful not to consume too much candy at one time. You won’t want to suffer the after affects of too much sugar, or a stomach that gets bloated on significant calorie intake at one time. Your dentist may love you because you come back after a Halloween binge, but you may wish that you paid more attention to your smile instead of your stomach. By the way, pass me that industrial size bag of M&Ms!

Until next time.

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