Happy Halloween from Re"ghoul" by Andersen
Eight frightfully fun facts about this spooky holiday
Halloween has become an epic event—it’s the second-biggest commercial holiday in the United States (Americans spent nearly $7 billion on it in 2015 ).1
Maybe you are a Hallow-fiend…dressing up in costume and heading out with the kids, debating the merits of candy corn, leading the charge for a pumpkin carving contest at work (really, you set something on fire ONE time with a stage prop, and they think it needs to be cancelled forever?), filling the yard with Styrofoam tombstones, animatronic ghosts, and billowing fog machines, and setting the DVR for The Nightmare Before Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Or, maybe you hide at home, turn out the porch light, and just eat the bag of snack-size candy bars on your own. That works, too! (In fact...that sounds like a delicious plan...)
Regardless, despite Halloween’s popularity (or anti-popularity), there’s quite a few unusual and unheard of traditions and tidbits out there about this spooky, silly, and superstition-filled holiday.
Speaking of delicious plans...
It’s Choco-licious: This year, American’s will spend more than $2.5 billion on Halloween candy—and 72 percent of candy handed out will be chocolate of some variety.
And what’s America’s sweetheart?
Peanut Butter Cups top the experts’ lists as the favorite Halloween fodder.2 (Fun fact: Peanut butter cups were invented by former Hershey employee Harry Burnett Reese in 1928.)
To top it off, more than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine's Day. Take THAT, Cupid!
And while we're on the topic of candy (and controversy…): The ever-polarizing candy corn has been made with the same recipe (a mixture of sugar, fondant, corn syrup, vanilla flavoring, and marshmallow creme) by the Jelly Belly Candy Company (formerly known as the Goelitz Confectionary Company) for more than a century.
When it was first introduced in the 1880s, candy corn was called "Chicken Feed." The boxes were illustrated with a colorful rooster logo and a tag line that read: "Something worth crowing for."
Love it or loathe it...candy corn is long-lived in more ways than one: It has a shelf-life of nine months—so feel free to hide the extra bags and break them out in the spring!3
Want to be really authentic? Carve a turnip! Root vegetables—not gourds—were the first carved edibles. The origin of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from a Celtic folk tale of a stingy farmer named Jack who would constantly play tricks on the devil. The devil responded by forcing him to wander purgatory with only a burning lump of coal from hell. Jack took the coal and made a lantern from a turnip, using it to guide his lost soul. In the early 19th century, Irish immigrants to the U.S. started using pumpkins instead, because they were more accessible in America.
In fact…much of Halloween’s past is Celtic—making it (not St. Patty’s Day) our most Irish holiday! Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the UK, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. Samhain (the word comes from the Old Irish, meaning “summer’s end”) was seen as a time when the boundary between this world and the otherworld was thin. The word “Halloween” or “Hallowe’en” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening” and comes from the Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day—a Christian holy day celebrated on November 1).4BOO! Did we scare you? The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia—and now you know why!
Anoka, MN (pop. 17,350), is called The Halloween Capital of the World, and is believed to be the first U.S. city to put on a Halloween celebration. In 1920, civic leaders suggested a celebration be staged for the whole community to keep kids out of trouble. A month-long build-up led to an epic parade and party—a tradition that continues to this day.
Now the prep is year round, and the events cover the span of October. Through the decades, the all-family-friendly activities have included pillow fights, a kangaroo court, fireworks displays, royalty coronations, concerts, dances, window-painting contests, house-decorating contests, celebrity appearances, costume contests, style shows, storytelling, running races and, in the 1960s, a snake dance that took long lines of participants in and out of area businesses and homes.5
Now THAT'S a Great Pumpkin!
Hang on to your security blanket, Linus...On October 9, 2017, Belgian Mathias Willemijns was pronounced the producer of the world’s most prodigious pumpkin. Willemijns set a world record with his super-sized squash weighing in at 2,624.6 pounds.
Willemijns claimed the record at the 2017 Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The previous world-record pumpkin was 2,323 pounds, set by Swiss grower Beni Meier in 2014 at a weigh-off at the same event.
The American record isn’t too shabby either! Retired firefighter Joel Holland recorded a massive 2,363-pound masterpiece earlier this month at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, CA.
Speaking of impressive domestic gourd production: Illinois is the nation’s top pumpkin producing state (746 million pounds in 2014)—with nearly four times the gourd growth than the next highest state (California at 192 million pounds). Close to 95% of the country's processing pumpkin (edible) crop is grown in Illinois.
After California, rounding out the top six are: Ohio (105 million), Pennsylvania (105 million), Michigan (97 million), New York (69 million).6
Did someone say "Road Trip"?
If you’ve not already mapped out your trick-or-treat route, might we suggest visiting one of these festively named locales?
Wherever you spend it, and however you celebrate it...Happy Halloween from Re"ghoul" by Andersen!