Halloween Trick or Treat Didn’t Always Involve Candy

by Jacklyn Krol
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When you think of Halloween, chances are you think of costumes, spooky things, and candy. But candy wasn’t always involved in trick or treating and the holiday.

All Hallow’s Eve is thought to have been derived by the Samhain feast from Celtic people and then the Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day. It wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s that Halloween became an actual celebration.

Before trick or treating, “soul cakes” were created. It’s similar to a miniature biscuit cake. People went door to door and gave out the snacks while praying for their deceased loved ones.

In the 1930s official trick or treating began. But when the Great Depression hit tricks became more popular since sugar rationing took place. Since sugar wasn’t available and candy companies weren’t profitable during that time, people resorted to other trick or treat methods. People previously gave cookies, fruit, nuts, small toys, and even money.

You’ll recall that bobbing for apples was a hit at parties. This is what they did back in the day in place of candy. Some also held nut crack nights to eat fresh nuts. Along with the night came numerous folklores and myths like finding your person by throwing nuts into a fire and it burning brightly.

By the 1950s, candy companies promoted products specifically geared toward Halloween. So how was the candy created? Hershey was one of the companies that were involved with the big mass-produced candy boom.

Back in 1900 when Hershey’s Milk Chocolate was first produced, chocolate was considered expensive and a luxury. Hershey’s eventually changed that by mass producing it into other product types. Once sugar was more widely available, more companies began producing product specifically for Halloween.

Candy Corn: A Halloween Tradition

Candy corn is one of Halloween’s mainstays. It is one of the oldest Halloween candies on the market. According to the History Channel, it was created in the 1880s by George Renninger. Before it was officially created and dubbed candy corn, farmers molded their own similar candies. However, none were the tri-colored corn shape.

Renninger worked at the local Wunderle Candy Company in Philidelphia. They were the first company to sell his creation. Candy Corn is actually slightly made of corn through corn syrup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Renninger who popularized the candy. It was Goelitz Candy Company, now Jelly Belly, who made it into a success. The company purchased the recipe in 1898 and instead of marketing it as corn used a different approach. They called it “chicken feed.” At that point, before World War I, people didn’t view corn on the cob as food for people, only for animals.

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