Why Is Candy a Halloween Tradition?

Fall brings lots of great things – cooler weather, changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything and, of course, Halloween candy. But how did candy come to be associated with a holiday that started out as a Celtic celebration of the harvest?

Here are a few things you might not know about the history of trick-or-treating and how candy became a part of the tradition.

It All Started with the Celts

In preparation for winter, the ancient Celts first used honey and, later, sugar to preserve the food they reaped from the fall and summer harvest. They also ate large amounts of sweets to get their bodies ready for winter. Apparently, there’s just something about the impending cold that makes people crave sweets! But that still doesn’t explain why people started asking for treats from their neighbors.

Trick-or-Treating Might Have Originated in the British Isles

At least as early as the 19th century, people would go door to door and perform a song or tell a joke in exchange for fruit, cakes or other treats. According to some sources, they would dress in costumes as well as carry vegetable lanterns, which is now thought to be an early version of the jack-o’-lantern.

Or It Might Have Started in German-American Communities

Halloween historian Lisa Norton believes that it was actually an adaptation of a German Christmas tradition in which children dressed up in costumes and went door to door to see if the adults could guess who they were. The kids who successfully fooled the adults won a prize of food or other treats.

The Term “Trick-or-Treating” Didn’t Appear Until 1927

The first recorded mention of “trick-or-treating” was in a 1927 Alberta, Canada, newspaper story about young kids who knocked on the front and back doors of a house, demanding treats.

Candy Wasn’t Always the Prize

Trick-or-treating seems to have become a widespread tradition in the late 30s and early 40s. Initially, kids could expect to receive anything from nuts and fruit to cookies, cakes and toys. It wasn’t until the 1950s that candy became the treat of choice for Halloween.

Halloween Candy is Big Business

American candy spending this Halloween is expected to reach $2 billion. That translates into about 250 pieces of candy per plastic jack-o’-lantern.

Of course, you don’t have to dress up and go trick-or-treating to satisfy your sweet tooth. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen can help you celebrate the fall season with some delicious sweet treats, like our Cheddar’s Legendary Monster Cookie, Hot Fudge Cake Sundae or Seasonal Crisp A La Mode. We’ve got something for every sweet craving.

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