Research Insight

Love at First Fright: Decoding the Most Popular Halloween Candy Packs

Halloween is just around the corner. In this series, we do a deep dive into the top Halloween Candy packs of 2022 to help you woo the customers of 2023!

Tanvi Moitra
September 11, 2023
10 min
White Smiley icon

Halloween has a special place in our hearts. Rooted in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, it gained popularity mainly after World War II. More than costumes, carved pumpkins and spooky decor, Halloween is known for its treats and candies. Did you know Americans spend approximately $3.1 Billion on Halloween candy?

Retail brands customize their candy pack designs to attract customers, but with the neck-to-neck competition in this space, it becomes difficult to choose a pack design that will persuade shoppers to add the candy pack to their cart.

With Halloween knocking on our doors, it is time for you to seal the deal with your target shoppers. If you are betting on your Halloween packs, this article will help you understand what will work with the shoppers of 2023!

We did a roundup of the most successful Halloween Candy Packs post-COVID-19 to help you design the most visually appealing and engaging candy pack. If you are one of the brands mentioned here, learn which areas were hit or miss and how to optimize your new candy pack designs.

Part 1 of this series aims to

  1. Assess the noticeability of different candy packs
  2. Identify which pack garnered the maximum shopper engagement
  3. Which candy pack made it to the shopper’s cart by increasing purchase intent

Candy Packs evaluated

Here is a quick summary of which pack designs performed well in this pack design test

How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition

Halloween is not a suburban tradition. Although its antecedents are obscure, traces can be found in early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval customs and ancient Celtic festivals.

Halloween Tradition

Halloween Tradition

During some Celtic Samhain celebrations, people dressed up in animal-skin costumes to stave off ghostly guests. Banquet tables were also set up, and food was laid out to appease unpleasant spirits.

Later, people started dressing up as ghosts, devils, and other evil creatures and engaging in tricks for food and drinks. Mumming, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, is considered the forerunner of trick-or-treating.

Over the years, this tradition spread to England, where “soul cakes” were distributed by wealthy families to the poor in exchange for prayers for their dead family members. This practice was known as “souling” and was later prominent amongst children who would go door to door asking for gifts and food.

A similar tradition was observed in Scotland and Ireland, known as “guising”. But instead of praying for the dead, they would perform a “Trick” like singing, reciting poems, telling jokes, etc., before collecting their “Treat”.

The 1840s saw large-scale immigrants coming to America because of the Irish Potato Famine. They popularized Halloween in America and carried forward the old “souling” and “guising” traditions. But Halloween soon became more about pranks, vandalism and violence, ending abruptly because of World War II.

Halloween fun fact

Once the war ended, Trick-or-Treating again gained prominence and has since been one of the most popular Halloween customs.

The Rise of Commercial Halloween Candy

After World War II, sugar rationing stopped and candy makers started to promote their products as an easy-to-make alternative to homemade treats. So, trick-or-treaters started putting candy like Milky Way bars, Pixy Stix, and licorice in their bags.

However, following a 1974 event involving tainted candy and associated tales of razor blades discovered in Halloween apples, parents all throughout the United States experienced a surge of anxiety. Soon, the only choice left was to purchase commercial candy that was secure and sealed. Individually wrapped candies and secure non-food alternatives like toys or crayons are still distributed today.

Finding the Most Popular Halloween Candy

Since Halloween is right around the corner, we want to equip you with actionable insights and a thorough understanding about what truly contributes towards the making of the most popular Halloween candy.

We tested the Top 6 Halloween Candy Packs of 2022, to decode the “why” behind their success. So, let’s get started!

Technology Used For Virtual Shelf Testing

All the Halloween Candy Packs were tested using a combination of Facial Coding and Eye tracking technologies.

Key Metrics Measured

1) Eye Tracking

  • Time to Discovery( Stopping Power) -Average of time elapsed when  the tester first discovers the AOI (area of Interest) across all the testers​​
  • Earned Attention (Holding Power)- Average time spent by all the  tester during the test

2) Facial Coding

  • Engagement (Closing Power)- Measure of Emotional Intensity evoked and  strong correlation to Comprehension​
  • Positive Emotion (Likeability)- All happy emotions like Happy, Surprised  experienced during the content view

Shelf Testing Heat Map

Shelf Testing Gaze Plot

Tech Based Insights

These insights were collected after conducting a virtual shelf test containing all 6 Halloween Candy Packs. Here is a quick summary of the key metrics and

Tech Based Insights

Key Highlights

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was Added to the Cart the most.
  • The Skittles Shriekers Sour Halloween Chewy Candy was added to cart the least, but the time to discover the pack was the lowest for the participants and they spent the most time on it compared to the other Halloween Candy Packs.

Survey Response Insights


Survey Response Insights

Purchase Intent

Purchase Intent

Tech vs Stated Survey Responses : Who won the Battle of Insights?

According to our Tech, Reese’s  Peanut Butter Cups were the most bought item from the shelf. This conclusion was drawn after tracking participants' behavior using our patented Emotion AI technologies.

But, if you consider the stated survey responses given by the participants the most bought item should be Twix Cookies & Creme.

So we did a little digging to find the actual sales data for these Halloween Packs. We found that according to the 2022 data gathered by RetailMeNot, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were the most popular Halloween Candy that Americans purchased.

Why the difference?

The difference in data results from personal bias. In consumer research, we often come across responses that are far from the truth. Similarly, there was a stark difference between what the participants wanted to do and what they did. This disparity in responses can impact your product performance by creating a domino effect of misleading insights. But you can supplement your surveys with AI to get bias-free, reliable and actionable insights!

To get in-depth insights about the most popular Halloween Candy pack, wait for the part-2 of this series!

What you can expect

  • Deep dive into pack designs
  • The “why” behind their performance
  • Tips and Tricks to Implement in 2023

Until then, if you want to try out virtual shelf testing yourself, contact us!

Talk to an expert

Author Bio

Tanvi Moitra
Tanvi can usually be found anxiously treading the office floor to get her content reviewed, here at Entropik. When not absorbed by researching and writing, she loves to read, go for a swim, play badminton, paint, and otherwise spend too much time bingeing on the Office and cuddling her German Shepherd, Whiskey. An absolute foodie, she would love to cook and bake for you and even give you the best dessert suggestions in the office.

Get your Product Pack Design tested against competitors

Got a question?
Check out our FAQ’s

Book a Demo

First name*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Last name*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Please use your business email address
Business Email*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Phone number*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Job title*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Company name*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Demo Preference*
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Book a Demo

Thank You!

We will contact you soon.