The beginning of the fall season means that Halloween is on its way. Scary movies, spooky costumes, and pumpkin carving are all time-honored Halloween traditions, but trick or treating—and the accompanying appetite for candy—is perhaps the season’s most distinguishing feature.
Recent research from the National Retail Federation found that handing out candy is the most common way consumers celebrate the holiday, with more than two-thirds of households planning to do so in 2023. And despite a steep rise in candy prices over the past two years, the demand for Halloween candy in the U.S. shows no sign of waning. Americans are projected to spend a substantial $3.6 billion this year to stock up on their Halloween treats.
With such a major economic impact, Halloween stands as one of the primary drivers of candy sales in the U.S. However, the country’s candy production industry plays a role that extends far beyond a single holiday, exerting a noteworthy influence on the economies of various states and localities. In these designated “candy capitals,” confectionery production and retail account for a disproportionate number of local jobs and businesses.
To determine which local economies are most reliant on the candy industry, researchers at Upgraded Points created a composite score that factored in the concentration of employment, payroll, and locations of candy producers and candy retail stores compared to the national average. For example, while California—the birthplace of Ghirardelli, See’s, and Jelly Belly, among others—leads the nation in overall candy industry employment, the percentage of California workers in the candy industry is only about 1.4 times higher than the national average.
On the other hand, while Vermont employs a much smaller number of candy workers overall, the concentration of candy workers in Vermont is nearly 4.5 times the national average. Vermont—home of Lake Champlain Chocolates and a wide variety of maple sugar candy producers—also boasts the highest concentration of candy businesses in the nation, making it the U.S. state economy most dependent on the candy industry. Other top-ranked state candy capitals include Illinois—home of Ferrara Candy Company, Tootsie Roll, and Wrigley’s—as well as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Overall, Vermont has the largest candy economy in the U.S. Here is a summary of the data for Vermont:
- Composite score: 98.63
- Concentration of candy industry employment (compared to average): 4.4x
- Concentration of candy industry payroll (compared to average): 4.3x
- Concentration of candy businesses (compared to average): 2.6x
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, see The Candy Capitals of the U.S. on Upgraded Points.