We’re just under two weeks away from the tooth-rottingest day of the year (next to that other sugar-forward holiday), which means we’re enjoying a deluge of data on the most popular varieties of Halloween candy—as well as data on how much we procrastinate in buying it. Grocery shopping and delivery service Instacart recently published new insights into spooky season based on candy purchase data from October 2021, and the findings reveal the actual winners and losers among rival products.
I’ll start out by saying that the best man won—the best man being, of course, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Is anyone surprised?
Instacart calculated the candy rankings based on weight, and customers apparently bought 116 tons (232,000 pounds) of Reese’s cups in October 2021. Given that the National Retail Federation reports Americans are on track to spend even more on Halloween this year, that figure could very well increase in 2022.
Reese’s cups were closely followed by Peanut M&M’s, with customers buying up 98 tons of the crunchy candy. Milky Way sits at the bottom of the top 10, with only 36 tons sold, a data point I find deeply confusing considering the fact that they’re a perfect candy bar, and also exponentially better than those fruit-flavored HDMI cords—er, Twizzlers, rather—which rank at number 6 on the list.
Mercifully, however, according to a new map by Zippia (whose data we’ve covered in Halloweens past), Alaska came in clutch with Milky Way ranked as their most popular candy. That’s actually kind of a cute coincidence, considering Alaskans probably have the best view of the actual Milky Way.
The best part of the new Halloween candy data is that it might settle, once and for all, some of our most perennially raging dessert debates. Like, say, chocolate candy vs. fruity or sour candy.
Instacart discovered via a recent survey (conducted by The Harris Poll among more than 2,000 people) that 84% of people who buy Halloween candy plan on picking up some type of chocolate, a finding that would surprise no human alive but would offend many, many dogs.
As far as Twizzlers vs. Red Vines, we’re all aware of the decades-long tension between these two rival licorice twists. In Instacart’s candy sales data by weight, Red Vines only appear to be the more popular choice on the West Coast; California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska prefer them to Twizzlers.
=Yet this is hardly the only brand rivalry at play: According to Instacart, gummy lovers were pretty evenly split between Haribo and Trolli products, and Smarties won out against SweeTarts in the vast majority of states—a fact I also find deeply confusing, considering that Smarties basically just taste like, well, sugary chalk.
And how about the most popular candy in that well-known “traditional, milk chocolate-covered candies that roll out of a box” category? Instacart polled users on whether they prefer Whoppers or Milk Duds more. The two really don’t seem similar at all, aside from their packaging. Milk Duds, which have a reputation for ripping out fillings and affixing themselves to back molars like a clingy ex, are chewy and caramel-filled, whereas Whoppers are crisp chocolate-covered malted milk balls. As someone who grew up begging for Milk Duds at the movie theater concession stand, my loyalty is pretty much established with that one—and according to the Instacart data map, it looks like most of the United States would agree (exceptions being Texas, California, and several states in the Southeastern part of the country).
While all of these contenders have their own merits, the huge increase in candy prices this year might prompt you to think long and hard about which brands you want to spend your hard-earned dough on. Considering that this is one of the only times of the year where eating sugar is basically a socially sanctioned activity, you’ll want to have a proper game plan.