Candy is candy, right? So what difference does a couple of months make?
Quite a bit, actually.
Once we turn that corner from October to the holiday stretch running from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, we make a distinct change in our candy-gobbling habits.
When CandyStore.com re-ran the numbers to find each state’s top three candy choices around Christmas, Maine came up with a whole different list than we had around Halloween.
So we want certain candies in our pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat baskets, and certain other candies in our Christmas stockings.
For Halloween, in case you didn’t click on the helpful hyperlink above, our top candy choice in Maine was Sour-Patch Kids, those gummy, fruity candies that make your face pucker. Our No. 2 and No. 3 picks were M&M’s and Starburst.
But for Christmas? Candy canes come in at the top spot in Maine, followed by Hershey Kisses and chocolate Santas.
Of course we have the obligatory interactive map, so you can see how we compare to other states:
In some places — like Oregon, where they seem to love peanut-butter cups regardless of the holiday, or Michigan and Alabama, where they like seasonal variants of candy corn no matter what — the candy choices stay pretty consistent.
But in Maine, we jump from sour, fruity gummies in October to crunchy, minty candies in December. Other than the sugar content, those are nothing alike.
And we go from nibbling just a little chocolate in the form of Halloween M&M’s to filling our stockings with the confection — scarfing up Kisses and Santas — just a couple months later.
Why is that? Well, I haven’t seen any ironclad explanation, but many studies over the years have shown that people are susceptible to seasonal changes in mood and certain other preferences, as we are exposed to different amounts of sunlight, among other stimuli.
One team of researchers found that we like some colors better in the spring and others in the fall, for instance, and they linked those changes in preferences with how those colors related to our environment at the time. We’re likely to associate yellowish green with new leaves and nature in the spring, for instance, and that same color with illness in the fall.
So maybe it’s just as simple as that: We associate the cool, mint flavor of candy canes with brisk winter fun and holiday parties, and chocolate Santas with the flavor of hot cocoa in front of a fireplace.
For what it’s worth, CandyStore.com says it reaches its conclusions on state-by-state candy preferences using not only its own online sales figures, but also by checking with major candy manufacturers and distributors. Americans are expected to spend $1.93 billion on candy over the eight weeks leading into Christmas this year, according to the National Confectionary Association. That’s a 2 percent increase over last year’s figure.
Do you reach for the same candy at Christmas as you do on Halloween? What’s the difference to you? Leave your comments below or share them on Facebook.