NEWS

Retro candy is sweet this Halloween

Renee Tomell

This article will willfully ignore any qualms about cavities and calories.

It’s a sweet surrender to Halloween’s candy kingdom, where retro favorites and fresh innovations are primed to impress party guests and trick-or-treaters.

“Halloween is the biggest candy holiday of the year,” said Scott Hughes of Groovy Candies, an online company that delivers both common and hard-to-find selections across the country. He notes Halloween candy sales nationwide have hit about $1.3 billion annually.

He cites Arizona and Rhode Island as lacking confectionery options.

On the other hand, “Chicago and New York were meccas for making candy back in the day. You have no problem getting availability,” he said, citing such old-fashioned favorites as Oh Henry!, Sugar Babies and Milk Duds.

Among its offerings, the Web site at groovycandies.com has collections of favorites by decade, ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s. Hughes said the ’50s is the top seller, likely because it fits well with 50th birthday and anniversary celebrations.

So what’s the allure of retro candy?

“We want the stuff we remember getting when we were kids,” said Tony Godek, owner of Sweet Nostalgia candy shop in Geneva, Ill., mentioning everything including Fizzies, caramel cream Bulls Eyes and Flying Saucers. 

For kids at Halloween, Hughes said it’s all about the gimmick and not necessarily about chocolate, the treat that dominates the Christmas and Easter holidays.

“We sell a lot of chocolate, (but also) gummy spiders and worms,” he said, explaining they’re popular at haunted house attractions. “What we love this year are Hershey’s Kisses (that) taste like candy corn.”

A hit that debuted last year is a coffin-shaped box that houses edible gummy body parts. He said Peeps ghosts have been hot the past few years, as have Pumpkin Patch Pop Rocks.

Sporting clever twists, some items incorporate sound and light effects; a wind-up toy tricycle conveys a candy-bearing ghoul; and the innocent lollipop turns menacing when held by a skeletal hand instead of a stick. 

Among other deliciously creepy gimmicks, Goo Hedz candy holders are topped by pumpkin and skeleton heads that, when squeezed, ooze an inedible goo which then recedes. Candy pumpkins and skulls lurk inside.