All About America

Candy, Costumes and Pumpkins That Rule This Halloween

By Dora Mekouar
October 25, 2019 10:53 AM

Once darkness falls every Oct. 31, American children dress up in costumes and go from house to house. Each time a front door opens, they call out, “Trick or treat!” 

The kids are usually rewarded with small pieces of packaged candy. Decades ago, people handed out homemade treats, but today’s parents worry about such offerings since they are more easily tampered with than store-bought candy.

Halloween may have evolved from spooky origins in England, Ireland and Scotland — where the Celts believed the dead could walk among the living during the transition between the seasons — but in America, Halloween is now mostly about candy, costumes and pumpkins.

At most houses across the nation, children can expect to receive Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a mix of chocolate and peanut butter, according to a recent survey of the most popular Halloween candy in the United States. 

Most popular Halloween candy in each US state
Graphic: Bid on Equipment

Eighty-five percent of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, according to a survey from TopCashback. And while most kids might demand a new costume to wear on the big night, almost half of American adults surveyed say they’ll recycle old costumes rather than spend money on a new one. 

Google says its most-searched costume terms this year include the creepy clown from the “It” movie, followed by witch, Spider-Man, dinosaur, Descendants (from a 2015 Disney television movie) and clown.

Pumpkins also play a significant role in Halloween traditions. Many houses place carved pumpkins on their front doorsteps. Chances are good that a significant number of those pumpkins will come from the state of Illinois, which harvests the largest share of pumpkin acreage of all the states. 

USDA Pumpkin Graphic
Graphic: USDA

Every state grows some pumpkins, but between 2016 and 2018, the highest-producing states were Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas and California. 

Farmers in those top pumpkin-producing states harvested more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins in 2018. Of that, more than half came from Illinois.

There are different varieties of pumpkins, but American growers mainly produce the Howden, the type of gourd used at Halloween to make jack-o'-lanterns. 

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