Trick or Treat: Halloween Traditions Vary By Generation, Confectioners Say

Looking for the best candy on the block this Halloween? (Hint: Pay your baby boomer neighbors a visit.) A new survey by the National Confectioners Association looks at how different generations put their own stamp on holiday traditions.

Signs that your calendar has flipped to October: The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and giant bags of candy are starting to fill store shelves in advance of Halloween in just a few weeks’ time.

To prepare, the National Confectioners Association released a new survey that looked at Halloween trends among different age groups. In the survey of 1,800 adult consumers, NCA found that people age 60-plus are the most likely to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters on All Hallows’ Eve—84 percent said they plan to, compared with 75 percent of the general population. And baby boomers were the least likely to run out of candy (37 percent vs. 50 percent of respondents).

NCA expects candy sales to reach $2.5 billion this year.

“While the 60-plus generation is clearly winning in the trick-or-treating category, this year’s survey tells us that all demographics own some aspect of the holiday season,” NCA Vice President of Communications Susan Whiteside said in a statement.  “From males to females, millennials to 60-plus, coast to coast, all Americans are getting into the holiday spirit, and how they celebrate the big day might just surprise you.”

Whiteside told that boomers are the driving force behind this trend. “They’re the first generation who sent their kids out trick-or-treating who had also done it themselves, so they knew what was going to be fun,” she said. “And now they’re the first generation of grandparents who have done it. Because it’s something they really loved, it’s something they love to continue.”

NCA handed out some other Halloween superlatives as well:

  • Millennials are most likely to go all out: This generation led the way for attending Halloween parties (51 percent) and donning costumes (47 percent). Millennials also are more likely to dress their pets up for Halloween (25 percent compared to 13 percent of the general population).
  • Gen X is most likely to steal their kids’ treats: Whether or not they’re actually checking to see if the candy is safe to eat, 23 percent of gen X parents said they sneak into their kids’ treat-filled pillowcases. And maybe that’s why 70 percent said they will accompany their children around the block.
  • Witches vs. warlocks: The survey found that women are more likely to decorate their homes for Halloween, and men are more likely to scare trick-or-treaters when they come knocking. Candy corn is slightly more preferred by women (54 percent) than men (50 percent).

What about the Halloween of the future? Whiteside offered some speculation.

“One thing that’s happened in the last 20 years is more adult-oriented Halloween parties,” she said. “As more of the millennials get older and have children, maybe we’ll morph into a new kind of era that is a combination of family-friendly and grown-up activities. It’s a bit too early to say.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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