Not sure how much candy to buy for trick-or-treaters? Here, have some math

This candy-buying formula may not be entirely accurate, but it’s better than nothing.

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Small boy dressed as vampire trick-or-treating
Photo: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP (Getty Images)

I’ve lived in a six-flat apartment building since I moved to Chicago, which means I get zero trick-or-treaters. They all flock to the fancy side of the neighborhood, where retirees sling king-sized candy bars from their well-appointed front porches. That makes me sad, because I love Halloween, and I think kids are funny and weird and cool. But someday, I might have a fancy front porch of my own. And when that moment comes, I’ll be ready for trick-or-treaters thanks to a highly precise mathematical formula courtesy of Shipt, a grocery delivery service, and Mars Wrigley.

Per a press release sent to The Takeout, Mars Wrigley has teamed up with Shipt to devise a formula that calculates exactly how much candy you’ll need to prepare for trick-or-treaters. “We want to be certain that no trick-or-treat bowl goes empty on Halloween night, which is why we meticulously broke down and analyzed candy shopping data to develop our very own candy formula, just in time for Halloween,” said Molly Snyder, Shipt’s Chief Communications Officer/Chief Candy Officer.

The formula is as follows:

(T*K*G) + (D*F*S) = Candy Pieces divided by 30 = ?? Bags of candy

  • T = the time, in number of hours, you plan to leave the light on
  • K = estimated number of kids per hour that ring the doorbell
  • G = the generosity factor (how many pieces will be distributed to each trick-or-treater)
  • D = the number of days between the initial candy purchase and Halloween
  • F = the number of family members in the household
  • S = the sneaky factor (average pieces of candy each member of the household will eat per day)
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Finally, if rain is in the forecast, divide the final count by 1.5.

Is this formula entirely mathematically sound? No, probably not, but it’s likely more accurate than chucking three bags of assorted gummies into your grocery cart and hoping for the best. And if you’re in need of further candy inspiration, Shipt also assessed the most popular Mars Wrigley treat in each state using online shopping data. You can check out the map below.

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Map showing most popular candies in each state
Graphic: Shipt

The candies represented are pretty aligned with our 2021 Halloween Candy Power Ranking, with one clear outlier: children in Montana apparently prefer ORBIT GUM??? That data point alone is enough to throw this entire press release into question. But hey, Halloween’s all about believing the unbelievable. I mean, you believe those trick-or-treaters are kids, and not me dressed up in a vampire costume, right?