The beauty of Halloween is that we buy idiotically large bags of candy and then, pretending to be sad about the chore, eat what the trick-or-treaters don't take. (Unless you're bad at math, there's always candy left.) We decided to figure out which candies have been the most popular over the last five years, because we are social scientists.
Here's what we did. The advent of Twitter allows us to see what people are saying about candy within discrete time periods. (And, yes, people talk about Halloween candy on Twitter. Increasingly, each year.) These likely aren't the toddlers who are getting candy in their bags, few of whom have active Twitter presences. Instead, it's teens and adults eating candy purloined from the bowl by the door.
We looked at Twitter mentions of candy for a variety of top brands for each of the past five Halloweens. We assessed two time periods: November 1st — the day after Halloween — and the first two weeks of the month, during which people are still working through their leftovers. (We used Topsy to pull the data.) Here's what we found.
The Day After
Reese's and Snickers are kings of the day after candy. The two candies have battled for the top spot over the past five years, with Reese's regaining the title in 2012. Or, tracking ranking year over year:
You'll notice that most of the movement is in the middle of the rankings. Jolly Ranchers continue to get more popular, moving from 16th to 12th place. Milky Way bars surged in 2009, but dropped off after that. Starburst and Twizzler continue to improve their positions.
The rankings above are evenly spaced: first place, second place, and so on. When it comes to the actual number of Twitter mentions that generate those rankings, it is not so even. Here's a log-scale graph of actual mentions of each candy type on November 1 of each year. (You can mouse over the candy names to see their lines light up.)
Snickers and Reese's get way more mentions than, say, Jolly Ranchers. In 2012, people talked about Snickers 16,000 times on Nov. 1. Jolly Ranchers were mentioned about 2,000 times. Krackel — a delicious candy — is barely ever mentioned. Come on, America. Eat more Krackel.
Nov. 1 through Nov. 14
But candy isn't only eaten on the day after Halloween, of course. We also looked at the two weeks after the holiday in order to gauge 1) which candies generally had more leftovers and 2) which candies had more staying power.
The rankings for the top mentions each year look a little different. M&Ms, for example, are more popular over the next few weeks — as are lollipops.
But again: the actual number of mentions varies widely. Snickers bars were mentioned almost 100,000 times in the two weeks after Halloween last year — up from only 969 mentions in 2008, when Twitter was still young.
By looking at the two-week data, we can also see which candies are really only popular on the first day after Halloween. The graph below shows the percent of mentions that occurred for each candy on November 1 of each year. A higher percentage — like poor, delicious Krackel — means that the candy was more commonly mentioned only on Nov. 1, and less for the next 13 days. Lollipops are mentioned pretty consistently throughout the month; they are almost always the candy that had the lowest percentage of mentions on that first day.
We'll note that our data largely, but not entirely, corresponds to annual sales figures. The top five candies in sales are Reese's, M&Ms, Snickers, Hershey's, and Kit Kat. Twix does better on social media than at the grocery store, it seems. Hopefully the opposite is true for Krackel, which is a delicious candy that you should buy, eat, and talk about on Twitter.
- Starburst by nirak on Flickr
- Baby Ruth by louisephotography on Flickr
- M&Ms by prayitnophotography on Flickr
- Snickers by orinrobertjohn on Flickr
- Twizzlers by oskay on Flickr
- Lollipop by greenbes on Flickr
- Tootsie Rolls by oskay on Flickr
- Jolly Ranchers by menetekel on Flickr
- Twix by schoko-riegel on Flickr
- Reese's by susivinh on Flickr
- Hershey by trekkyandy on Flickr
- Krackel by mr_sir on Flickr
- Nestle Crunch by fihu on Flickr
- Kit Kat by sils67 on Flickr
- Three Musketeers by nomadic_lass on Flickr
- Butterfinger by dnguy3n on Flickr
- Milky Way by schoko-riegel on Flickr