Happy Halloween from Re"Ghoul" by Andersen!
Ten-plus tidbits about this teriffically terrifying holiday!
Halloween has become an epic event—it’s the second-biggest commercial holiday in the United States (It’s estimated that Americans will spend nearly $9 billion on it this year).
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!
To celebrate Halloween’s popularity (or anti-popularity), check out a few of these traditions, tidbits, and trivia about this spooky, silly, and superstition-filled holiday.
Back to the Roots
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 holidays! 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).
BOO! Did we scare you? The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia—and now you know why!
The Ultimate Candy Controversy
This year, American’s will spend close to $2 billion on Halloween candy—and 72 percent of candy handed out will be chocolate of some variety (nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate, in fact). And what’s America’s sweet tooth craving? Peanut Butter Cups top the experts’ lists as the favorite Halloween fodder. According to a recent poll, 36% of people said they were enamored with the chocolatey, peanut buttery…candy bar? Candy cup? Let’s go with "treat." It’s safer.
To top it off, more than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine's Day. Take THAT, Cupid. Other popular noshes? Second with 18% was Snickers, followed by M&M’s with 11%, plain Hershey bars and candy corn (who ARE you people?) both with 6%, Skittles with 5%, Starburst with 4%, and Tootsie Pops with 2%.
Of course, there are as many candy polls as there are candy makers, so if you don’t like those survey results…you can always try another (except for you PB cup haters…it was tops on 6 out of 7 lists, and #3 on one outlier list)!Nefarious food for thought: If you’re one of those folks who loooooove the “classic” candies (or, apparently, black licorice/anise flavor), consider filling your candy bowl with some of the LEAST popular treats…that way, you can have them all to yourself on November 1. (But don’t blame us if you have to wait until you are done picking toilet paper out of your trees or washing egg off your siding to eat any).
Which candies are banging around the bottom of the treat bag (even though that’s kind of like saying “worst pizza”? There’s not really BAD candy, right?)? Circus Peanuts, wax soda bottles, Necco Wafers, Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, black licorice, Mary Janes/PB chews, and Good & Plenty all make the list. So does candy corn, which is a true testament to its polarizing nature.
Returning to the topic of candy controversy...: Candy corn (we're back to you people, again) has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company for more than a century. It also has a shelf-life of nine months—so feel free to hide the extra bags and break them out in the spring!
Parents (and “paw”rents) certainly are not afraid to spend when it comes to playing dress up. This year, Americans will spend nearly $3.2 billion on togs for Halloween.
Now, considering there could be roughly 41 million kids between 5-14 going to door to door as trick-or-treaters this year, perhaps that’s not surprising...but it’s not JUST the kiddos playing dress-up. 18 to 24-year-olds are the demographic most likely to celebrate (9 out of 10 have plans). But the older generations aren’t going to be left out—8 out of 10, 35 to 44-year-olds, and nearly half of all folks aged 65+ will be groovin’ in the graveyard. And out of all of the adults who celebrate Halloween? Nearly 47% of them plan on wearing a costume, as well.
And let’s not forget Fido and Fluffy. Much to our furry friends’ chagrin, no doubt, 29 million people plan on dressing their pets for Halloween—spending an estimated $480 million.
The most popular costumes for pets this year?
1. Pumpkin - 9.3%
2. Hot dog - 7.2% (what, no TacoCat?)
3. Superhero - 7.2%
4. Bumblebee - 3.9% (the bug, not the car...we assume)
5. Cat - 3.2% (Could be scary; could be very meta.)
6. Witch - 2.5%
7. Lion - 2.2% (Dream big, little kitty)
8. Dog - 2.8% (See #5)
9. Devil - 2%
10. Shark- 1.7% (do-doo-do-doo-do)
Hang on to your security blanket, Linus: Illinois remains the nation’s top pumpkin producing state—with roughly seven times the gourd growth than the average of the next eight top pumpkin producing states (California, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas).
On October 9, 2016, Belgian Mathias Willemijns was proclaimed producer the world’s most prodigious pumpkin. The Belgian man set a world record with his super-sized squash weighing in at 2,624.6 pounds.
Willemijns claimed the record at the 2016 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 North American record isn’t too shabby either!
Steve Geddes of Boscawen, NH, won $6,000 in prize money in September 2018 at the Deerfield Fair for his first place pumpkin. His entry weighed in at a massive 2,528 pounds—topping the previous record, a 2,363-pound behemoth, from 2017's Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, CA.
Home Is Where the Haunting Is
What’s YOUR local claim to Halloween fame? Lewisburg, OH says “Go Big or Go (Haunted) Home!” Its 3,564-foot-long Haunted Cave was named the world's longest haunted house by Guiness World Records. Even spookier? It’s subterranean, and located 80 feet below ground in an abandoned mine.
October 30 is Mischief Night, an evening before Halloween where children, teens, and young adults engage in pranks and tricks. It is a tradition that is celebrated more in some locations than others around the U.S. Nowadays, Mischief Night is especially popular in pockets where Irish and Scottish immigration was common. In the northeastern United States, for example, participants celebrate “Cabbage Night” by collecting rotten produce and leaving it on doorsteps.
If you’re up to mischief on actual Halloween, maybe you have Silly String…unless you’re in Hollywood, CA, that is. In 2004, the city instituted an annual October 31 ban on the sticky stuff—and if you get caught slinging the string that day? You could face up to a $1,000 fine.
Anoka, MN (pop. 17,350), is called The Halloween Capital of the World. The city is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration. In 1920, George Greene and other 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 prep lasts the whole 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.
Some places have the Halloween spirit all year long…If you’ve not already mapped out your trick-or-treat route, might we suggest visiting one of these festively named locales?
☠ Transylvania County, NC
☠ Tombstone, AZ
☠ Pumpkin Center, NC
☠ Scary, WV
☠ Frankenstein, MI
☠ Skull Creek, NE
☠ Devils Den, CA
Wherever you spend the day, and however you celebrate it (or don’t)…
🎃 Happy Halloween from Re"Ghoul" by Andersen! 🎃