It’s no surprise that candy delights kids and adults alike. We love sweets so much that the average American eats about 22 pounds of candy each year. Whether you’re looking to impress your friends or simply brush up on your candy trivia, check out these 50 sweet facts about your favorite candies.
1. THE MOST POPULAR HALLOWEEN CANDY VARIES BY STATE.
As of 2021, Starburst takes the title in Alabama, while Swedish fish win in Georgia. But Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Ways, and M&Ms are a few of the most consistently popular candies in all 50 states.
2. THE CREATOR OF REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS NAMED THE TREAT AFTER HIMSELF.
Harry Burnett Reese sold the Lizzie Bar and Johnny Bar, candy bars he named after his daughter and son, respectively. But his chocolate-covered peanut butter cup creation, which he named after himself and called Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, was his real hit.
3. THE INVENTOR OF THE TOOTSIE ROLL ALSO CREATED A PRECURSOR TO JELL-O.
4. A DENTIST INVENTED COTTON CANDY.
You wouldn’t expect a dentist to be responsible for helping to pioneer a new type of candy, although maybe he was hoping it would drum up some cavity-related business. In 1897, dentist William Morrison partnered with confectioner John C. Wharton to devise a machine that used centrifugal force to turn sugar into cotton-like strands. The result was cotton candy, but that name didn’t come until the 1920s. Morrison and Wharton called their treat “Fairy Floss.”
5. IN JAPAN, ADULTS CAN BUY SAKE-FLAVORED KIT KATS.
They’re enveloped in white chocolate and contain sake powder (0.8 percent alcohol). The Japanese can also snack on whiskey-flavored Pocky sticks, which are covered in chocolate and flavored with malt.
6. THE TRUE ORIGIN OF THE BABY RUTH BAR HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR DECADES.
Introduced in 1921, when baseball player Babe Ruth was a national hero, the Curtiss Candy Company reformulated their Kandy Kake confection and gave it a name reminiscent of sports royalty: Baby Ruth. But when Ruth licensed his name for another bar in 1926, Curtiss cried foul, claiming it would cause consumer confusion and swearing that they had named their bar not after the baseball legend but after Ruth Cleveland, the deceased daughter of President Grover Cleveland. Even though “Baby Ruth” had died of diphtheria in 1904 and would have been an odd choice for a candy bar name, the courts agreed; Ruth never got in on the treat trade.
7. THE MILKY WAY BAR WAS INSPIRED BY A MALTED MILKSHAKE.
Milky Way was meant to mimic the taste of a malted milkshake, which was popular in the 1920s.
8. WHITE CHOCOLATE ISN’T ACTUALLY CHOCOLATE.
Lovers of white chocolate, beware: Because white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, it's not real chocolate.
9. TOBLERONE CUSTOMERS ARE A PASSIONATE, VOCAL BUNCH.
When the chocolate bar company decided to cut costs by reducing the weight of two of their bars sold in the UK, fans loudly expressed their disappointment and mocked the new bar’s fewer triangular chocolate peaks.
10. THE TWO M'S IN M&M’S STAND FOR MARS AND MURRIE.
Those are the surnames of the two businessmen—Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie—who developed and financed the candy-coated chocolates.
11. LIFE SAVERS GOT THEIR ROUND SHAPE AFTER THE CANDY’S INVENTOR VISITED A PHARMACY.
Clarence Crane, the creator of Life Savers, made his candies round rather than square, which was the typical shape for most mints at the time, after visiting a pharmacy. Inspiration struck when he saw a machine making pills that were round and flat, and the rest is history.
12. IT TAKES LICKING MACHINES (YES, THEY’RE A REAL THING) ANYWHERE FROM 364 TO 411 LICKS TO REACH THE CENTER OF A TOOTSIE POP.
Human lickers, on the other hand, averaged just 144 to 252 licks.
13. E.T. COULD HAVE EATEN M&M’S INSTEAD OF REESE’S PIECES.
The iconic scene in 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which Elliott entices the alien with Reese's Pieces, almost didn't happen. Steven Spielberg’s first two choices of candy were M&M’s and Hershey’s Kisses, but when the Hershey Company offered to pay $1 million to showcase their candy creation, Reese’s Pieces became E.T.'s favorite sweet.
14. YOU CAN PAIR YOUR FAVORITE HALLOWEEN CANDY WITH WINE.
Based on criteria including flavor, acidity, bitterness, and sweetness, wine experts recommend pairing Whoppers with cabernet sauvignon, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with sherry, and Hershey’s Kisses with zinfandel.
15. M&M’S COME IN A LOT MORE FLAVORS THAN MILK CHOCOLATE, PEANUT, AND CRISPY.
You can also snack on M&M’s in more esoteric flavors (some are limited-edition): pecan pie, peanut butter, pumpkin spice latte, pretzel, white cheesecake, coffee nut, dark mint, and caramel, for starters.
16. THE WORD PEZ COMES FROM THE GERMAN WORD FOR PEPPERMINT: PFEFFERMINZ.
17. NAMING THE SNICKERS BAR HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH LAUGHING AT A GOOD JOKE.
Franklin Mars, the patriarch of the Mars company, named the candy bar after a beloved racehorse his family owned that had just passed away. Snickers was raised on his family’s farm, the Milky Way, in Tennessee.
18. DUNKIN’ DONUTS AND HERSHEY ONCE TEAMED UP TO CREATE CANDY-FLAVORED COFFEE.
They offered Heath bar and Almond Joy flavored options.
19. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS EATING TOO MUCH CANDY.
According to the American Chemical Society, eating 262 fun-sized Halloween candy bars would poison a 180-pound person. But don't worry about death by candy: You'd vomit before you’d be able to down that many candy bars in one sitting.
20. THE RIVALRY BETWEEN FANS OF TWIZZLERS AND RED VINES IS FIERCE AND DEEP-SEATED.
Candy fans have heated online debates about which licorice product has a better taste, texture, and appearance.
21. IT'S NOT CHOCOLATE BETWEEN THE LAYERS OF WAFER IN A KIT KAT BAR.
It’s actually recycled Kit Kats. Technicians pull any imperfect Kit Kats—with off-center wafers or not enough shine, for example—and then grind them into a paste.
22. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN REALLY LOVED JELLY BELLY JELLY BEANS.
He loved eating them so much that Air Force One was outfitted with special jelly bean holders, lest turbulence cause his beloved beans to spill.
23. THE GOELITZ CANDY COMPANY’S BRAND OF CANDY CORN HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 1898.
It was called "chicken feed," since real corn kernels were usually only fed to livestock. (In 2001, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company changed its name to the Jelly Belly Candy Company.)
24. ASTRONAUTS LOVE M&MS.
M&Ms have proven to be among the more popular candy requests for astronauts on space missions. Because they’re bite-sized and candy coated, they don’t make much of a mess. They can also be released in the air and gobbled up, Pac-Man style, by space travelers.
25. THE PHRASE TOOTSIE ROLLS MEANT SOMETHING OTHER THAN CANDY DURING THE KOREAN WAR.
U.S. soldiers in the First Marine Division used the phrase as a codename for mortar shells. But the real candy came in handy when the soldiers used chewed-up Tootsie Rolls to patch holes in their vehicles' fuel lines.
26. BUTTERFINGER ONCE HAD AN ENERGY BAR.
27. UNTIL 1990, UK FANS OF SNICKERS HAD TO ASK FOR MARATHON BARS.
28. JUNIOR MINTS WERE NAMED AFTER A BROADWAY PLAY.
Junior Miss ran from 1941 to 1943.
29. TO APPEAL TO KIDS, PEZ TURNED CANDY DISPENSERS INTO TOYS.
The first dispensers geared toward children were shaped like Santa Claus, a robot, and a space gun.
30. EVERY DAY, 64 MILLION TOOTSIE ROLLS ARE MADE.
That means that more than 44,440 Tootsie Rolls are created per minute!
31. HARIBO, THE CANDY COMPANY FAMOUS FOR ITS GUMMY BEARS, IS A PORTMANTEAU.
Creator Hans Riegel combined the first two letters of his first and last name with the first two letters of his hometown: Bonn, Germany.
32. JELLY BELLY MAKES A LINE OF ENERGY BEANS.
Sport Beans contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. Who says you can’t eat candy while exercising?
33. CANDY CORN ISN’T JUST FOR HALLOWEEN.
There are varieties for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.
34. THE DESIGN OF MARY JANE CANDIES—A YELLOW WRAPPER WITH A RED STRIPE AND A DRAWING OF A YOUNG GIRL—HAS STAYED THE SAME FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS.
The inside of the candies, a mixture of peanut butter and molasses, is also virtually unchanged.
35. DOTS GUMDROPS ARE GLUTEN-FREE AND VEGAN-FRIENDLY.
They may also be one of the most pervasive non-chocolate candies on the market: More than 4 billion DOTS are rolled out annually.
36. 3 MUSKETEERS WAS SO NAMED BECAUSE IT ORIGINALLY FEATURED CHOCOLATE, STRAWBERRY, AND VANILLA PIECES OF CANDY.
But vanilla and strawberry (as well as sugar) were scarce during World War II, so 3 Musketeers ditched the vanilla and strawberry to focus on chocolate.
37. SAM BORN FOUNDED THE JUST BORN CANDY COMPANY IN 1923.
The guy behind the company that makes Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales originally made his fortune by inventing the Born Sucker Machine—a device that would insert sticks into lollipops.
38. IT USED TO TAKE 27 HOURS TO MAKE ONE PEEP.
After automation, now it only takes six minutes. That means the Pennsylvania factory can pump out 5.5 million Peeps a day!
39. NORTH DAKOTANS IN SEARCH OF CANDY CIGARETTES BETWEEN 1953 AND 1967 WERE OUT OF LUCK.
The state banned the candy due to concerns that it would encourage kids to smoke real cigarettes.
40. PEZ HAS FEATURED SOME UNUSUAL FLAVORS THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY.
They’ve ranged from the intriguing (cola, pineapple) to the worrisome (chlorophyll, offering a plant-flavored experience). Flavors will also vary depending on region: PEZ enthusiasts in the U.S. can’t get peach.
41. CUSTOMERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM CAN BUY JARS OF TWIX SPREAD.
It’s a Nutella-like spreadable that contains chocolate, caramel, and crunchy pieces of biscuit.
42. AFTER ITS BAG IS OPENED, CANDY CORN CAN LAST FOR THREE TO SIX MONTHS.
Just make sure to store it at room temperature away from heat and light.
43. EVEN THOUGH TWIZZLERS ARE KNOWN AS A “LICORICE CANDY,” ONLY THE BLACK LICORICE PACKAGES CONTAIN LICORICE EXTRACT.
The standard strawberry ones are made with corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, and artificial flavoring.
44. IF YOU LOVE SNACKING ON EVERLASTING GOBSTOPPERS, RUNTS, AND LAFFY TAFFY, YOU CAN PARTIALLY THANK ROALD DAHL.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, the film based on Roald Dahl's book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, was the impetus for Quaker Oats, who agreed to help finance the film, to launch a candy line (which later became The Willy Wonka Candy Company) to bring the imaginative candy creations to life.
45. EVERY EIGHT HOURS, MARS’S NEW JERSEY FACTORY PRODUCES 2 BILLION M&MS.
That works out to 4 million M&Ms a minute. That’s almost enough made each day to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which would need about 2.4 billion M&Ms in order to become a deliciously eccentric Olympic event.
46. THE KIT KAT JINGLE WILL GET STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.
Researchers determined that the Kit Kat jingle—"Gimme a break / Gimme a break / Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar"—is one of the most common earworms.
47. MIKE AND IKE CANDY DEBUTED IN 1940.
Since then, the candy has been made in almost 40 different flavors, from the original fruit mix (orange, cherry, lemon, and lime) to more unusual ones such as cotton candy and root beer float.
48. SALT WATER TAFFY IS GENERALLY NOT SALTY, WATERY, OR MADE FROM SALTWATER.
So why the name? According to New Jersey legend: In 1883, a storm hit the Atlantic City boardwalk, flooding several candy shops in the process. When a girl went up to a candy counter afterward looking for a treat, the disgruntled proprietor jokingly told her only “saltwater taffy” was left. The name stuck, and today’s salt water taffy still echoes the store owner’s sarcastic comment. These days, you can buy Halloween flavors from some retailers.
49. OTTO SCHNERING INVENTED BOTH THE BABY RUTH AND THE BUTTERFINGER.
As owner of the Curtiss Candy Company, Otto "U.S. Candy Bar King" Schnering achieved success with the Baby Ruth candy bar first; he followed it up with Butterfinger, which got its name from a public contest and was another smash hit.
50. HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA—HOME TO THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF THE HERSHEY CHOCOLATE COMPANY—WAS NAMED FOLLOWING A FAILED NAMING CONTEST.
In 1904, the newly created town hosted a contest to pick its new name, and the winner was “Hersheykoko.” The post office (and many locals, including founder Milton Hershey's wife) rejected the name, and they eventually went with the more straightforward “Hershey.”
A version of this story was published in 2017; it has been updated for 2021.