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U.S. News

Goodbye candy corn: how American consumers are changing Halloween traditions

By Jake Beardslee · October 31, 2023

In brief…

  • Halloween candy sales grew 14% from 2021-2022, with similar growth expected this year
  • Consumers strongly favor chocolate, especially milk chocolate, over non-chocolate candy
  • Candy corn sales have steadily declined, while gummies and marshmallows have seen big gains
Americans are buying increasing amounts of Halloween candy like chocolate and gummies but turning away from polarizing and artificial-tasting candy corn.  Toyah Anette B/Wikimedia

Halloween candy sales continue to soar, growing 14% between 2021 and 2022. This year is on track for similar sales growth, according to new data from Nielsen. In 2022 alone, Americans spent over $3.7 billion on candy in the 6 weeks leading up to Halloween.

When it comes to their favorite Halloween candy, consumers overwhelmingly choose chocolate - buying it at almost double the rate of non-chocolate candy. And among chocolate, milk chocolate reigns supreme. More milk chocolate was purchased last Halloween than all non-chocolate candy combined.

While chocolate has remained steady over the past 5 years, non-chocolate candy has seen significant growth, with sales increasing 7.8% since 2018. However, one iconic Halloween candy is rapidly falling out of favor with consumers: candy corn.

Sales data reveals Americans are buying less and less candy corn every year. The number of candy corn packages sold in the 6 weeks before Halloween hit a low of 12.7 million in 2022, down from previous years. Sales of gummies and marshmallow candies like Peeps have jumped over 30% during the same period.

Candy expers Beth Kimmerle, founder of the food industry data company Attribute Analytics, told CNN candy corn’s decline to its polarizing flavor, which elicits strong reactions from consumers. Its sweetness quickly dissipates, leaving an artificial, chemical aftertaste. Gummies and marshmallows offer more dynamic, lingering flavors that appeal to modern palates.

With little going for it in terms of taste or texture, candy corn appears to be surviving mainly on nostalgia. But even nostalgia may not be enough, as younger generations form Halloween candy preferences uncolored by childhood memories.