Wednesday is Halloween, the top holiday for candy sales. Here are 10 facts that are all treat and no trick:
1. The Arabs are often credited with inventing caramel. But an early use of the hot, sticky substance was not so sweet:
Women in harems applied it as a hair remover.
3. Early American chocolate-makers often touted their products' nutritional value. During the Depression, candy bars had such names as Chicken Dinner, Idaho Spud and Big Eats. The Hershey's chocolate wrapper once carried the slogan "More sustaining than meat."
4. The Chicago area has been at the center of the U.S. candy industry, producing such treats as Tootsie Rolls, Atomic Fireballs, Lemonheads, Baby Ruths, Butterfingers, Milk Duds, Milky Ways, 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Oh Henry! bars, Frango Mints, Cracker Jacks, Turtles, Doves, Jelly Bellies and Pixies. Candy historian Tim Richardson credits Chicago candymakers with popularizing the tradition of giving sweets to Halloween trick-or-treaters, calling it "a simple marketing ploy that emanated from the city's confectioners."
5. The Baby Ruth candy bar debuted in 1921, and even today the origin of the name remains in dispute. The Chicago-based Curtiss Candy Co. insisted that it named the bar after President Grover Cleveland's daughter Ruth. But some historians find it odd that a company would name a new candy after a girl who had died 17 years earlier. They also find it mighty suspicious that the candy's name was similar to that of baseball star Babe Ruth, who never collected royalties and was prevented from selling his own Babe Ruth Home Run Bar because of a Curtiss lawsuit.
6. When the Mars candy company marketed Snickers in Britain, it changed the name to Marathon to avoid any jokes about Snickers rhyming with knickers. (Many years later, Mars renamed Marathon as Snickers.)
7. Producers of the film "E.T." wanted to use M&Ms as the candy that lured the extraterrestrial from hiding. But when Mars said no, Hershey jumped at the chance to showcase Reese's Pieces instead. Sales soared.
8. Cotton candy is known as "candy floss" in Britain and "fairy floss" in Australia.
9. The rock band Van Halen had a contract clause requiring a bowl of M&Ms backstage at its concerts -- but all of the brown M&Ms had to be removed. The clause is sometimes cited as an example of ridiculous rock-star demands, but it made practical sense, singer David Lee Roth has written. If a concert venue got the M&Ms wrong, it was a red flag that promoters hadn't read the contract closely and were likely to mess up on other, more important details.
10. The National Confectioners Association says 90 percent of parents admit sneaking Halloween goodies out of their kids' treat-or-treat bags.
Sources: "The Emperors of Chocolate," by Joel Glenn Brenner; "Candy: The Sweet History," by Beth Kimmerle ; "Sweets: A History of Candy," by Tim Richardson; candyusa.org; snopes.com.
10 things you might not know about candy
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