How Much do Americans Spend on Candy, 1920 and 2020?

gumdrops on plateOccasionally I see data in an old book that piques my curiosity – and next thing I know I’m searching for recent comparison data. This is one of those times.  According to a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:

We are told that American spend over $200,000,000 a year for factory-made candy. 

Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. II) (1920) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr

Which led me to wonder, how much did the average American spend on candy per year in 1920? According the 1920 U.S. Census, there were 106,000,000 people in the U.S. in 1920, so the average person spent $1.89 dollars per year on candy. According to Dave Manual’s Inflation Calculator, $1 in 1920 would be the equivalent to $12.50 today, so the average person in 1920 ate $23.65 worth of candy in today’s dollars over the course of a year.

This led to my next question, How much candy do American’s eat today? I found data for how much they spent on Halloween candy (but not for the entire year) -so the overall amount would be more. The data were for 2019, which I’m assuming is about the same as 2020.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $2.6 billion on candy or more than $25 on average.

How Much Candy Are You Buying for Halloween? This Survey Might Surprise You,” U.S.A. Today (October 5, 2019)

So the bottom line this at in Americans are spending more on candy today than they did a hundred years ago. In 1920, if the spending was adjusted for inflation, they spent an average of $23.65; today, just for Halloween, they spend more than $25.00 per year.

18 thoughts on “How Much do Americans Spend on Candy, 1920 and 2020?

  1. My family definitely has a sweet tooth. One of my grandfathers was a candy maker, I believe through the mid 1920’s to late 1950’s. My other grandparents had a cupboard full of candy. We loved to visit. Our family tradition is making candy for Christmas.

  2. My grandparents lived on a farm in rural Vermont and their daily diary for 1915 had entries indicating what they purchased that day. They regularly had purchases of tobacco (for my grandfather) and candy (for my grandmother). She was fond of cherry flavored Life Savers and chocolate covered wintergreen patties. Brings back memories of them. Thank you for the post.

  3. Very interesting. Thanks

    p.s., I read all of your entries. I’m not too good about responding because I’m still wrapped up in trying to market “My Father’s House” and also the book I edited, “This Sucks! I Want to Live” by Nick Spooner

  4. I wonder what people from 1920 would think of our candy habits? 🙂

    My grandfather was born during the World War I era. He loved candy.

  5. Lots of sweet tooth’s out there!😄 Hubby stocks up on smarties whenever they go on sale. He’s the smartie man at church. It’s interesting that there are some adults who enjoy munching on smarties after service as much as the children.

  6. Dearest, I love your blog and look forward to reading it. It’s entertaining and insightful. But, you do realize the word is “piques your interest”, not “peaks your interest”? Two totally different things there.

    1. Thanks! I learned a new word (or at least the spelling of a new word). I fixed the spelling. It didn’t look good before. I’m thankful that you helped me get it corrected.

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