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Trick-or-Treat Calculator

Created by Madhumathi Raman and Maria Kluziak
Reviewed by Hanna Pamuła, PhD and Steven Wooding
Last updated: May 21, 2024

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand, creatures crawl in search oftreats! 🧟 That’s right. Soon, pumpkins, skeletons, and monsters will take over your neighborhood, and along with them, there will come swarms of scary little trick-or-treaters! 🎃

As one of the most popular holidays in the US and at the same time rapidly gaining popularity around the world, Halloween is no small feat. Loved by kids and adults, it’s the perfect opportunity to tighten your local community ties, let your imagination ride wild with costumes and decorations, and splurge on some sweet delicacies. Can you believe that this year, Americans are expected to spend as many as 3 billion dollars on candy 🍬 alone?

If you’re a part of the two-thirds of Americans planning to celebrate the upcoming holiday, you’re probably wondering how much candy will be enough to satisfy the sweet teeth of your local trick-or-treaters. It always ends up being too much or too little, doesn’t it? Worry not – this time, you have the help of this trick-or-treat calculator!

Interestingly, you can apply it to more serious fields as well. Though the so-called Halloween Candy Problem is a whole different beast, it is precisely the issue of rationing sweets that paved the way for researchers to investigate how Americans struggle with allocating their retirement assets.

You can also use the calculator to estimate how many treats will fit in your container. Read the article to learn more about the history of the half-sweet half-scary tradition, and discover some ideas for sneaking some science and learning into this year’s candy hunt. Let’s get spooky! 👻

A brief history of trick-or-treating

Let’s handle the first things first. Have you ever wondered how it all began? Turns out trick-or-treating has a long, fascinating history dating all the way back to Celtic Europe. However, would you guess that, in fact, Halloween traditions stem from New Year’s Eve?

Yes, you read that right! The tradition of dressing up and wearing masks from Halloween was originally a New Years’ celebration! That is because the Celts – the original Halloween celebrators – celebrated their New Year on November 1.

The root of today’s Halloween celebrations was called Samuin (or Samhain), which translates roughly into “summer’s end”. On that day, young Celts would dress up as evil spirits in order to fool the “real” supernatural beings into thinking they were their kin. They believed that on the night when the old year transitions into a new one, the mortal and the supernatural realm merge, letting the dead and hostile spirits roam the Earth again.

Medieval print
Image source: Medieval Histories

In the 8th century, despite the ongoing Christianization, the Celtic traditions were still prominent among the people. That’s why the Catholic Church came up with “All Hallow’s Eve”, “All Souls’ Day”, and “All Saints’ Day”, turning popular pagan celebrations into a Christian holiday. To help the transition go smoothly, they even adopted the beloved tradition of dressing up.

Then, around the Middle Ages, a new tradition that gave rise to today’s trick-or-treating appeared. Children dressed up as saints, angels, and demons, going door to door asking for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers on behalf of the dead. This practice, known as “souling”, eventually made its way to the USA, most likely brought there by Scottish and Irish immigrants at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Since then, it evolved into the beloved tradition we know today.

So how does this calculator work?

You can use this trick-or-treat calculator in two ways! Both are pretty easy and intuitive, but just for clarity’s sake, here’s a short guide. Depending on which option you choose, one of the two things will follow:

  1. Estimating how much candy you will need 🍬

To estimate how much candy will be just enough for your local trick-or-treaters, you’ll be asked about the approximate number of kids in your neighborhood, how intense your decorations are, and what are the expected weather conditions. You can also state how many candies there are per the pack you get, and you’ll get an estimation of how many packages you need to buy, too.

  1. Estimating how much candy will fit in your container 🥡

In this case, you’ll need to start by declaring the shape of the candy container that you use. Then, you’ll need to provide the calculator with its dimensions to figure out the volume. Don’t worry – we’ve included illustrations to help you take measurements! After that, all you’ll need to do is choose from the vast selection of America's favorite candy brands, and your calculations will be ready.

Halloween in numbers – some facts and trivia about the spookiest day of the year

Halloween went a long way to become the beloved celebration of today. Here are some interesting facts and numbers about the holiday to get an idea of just how big it has grown. Make sure there are no brain-hungry zombies 🧟 around before you get the read them – some of these facts are mind-blowing! 🧠💥(And if there are... instead of looking into a glass ball, use the zombie invasion calculator to see how likely humans are to win!)

💀 If you had to take a guess on how much Americans spend on Halloween in total, what would it be? Well, I’m going to bet whatever your estimation is, it’s more than that! Believe it or not, but this year (2021), the total spending on Halloween (costumes, candy, decorations, etc.) is expected to reach 10.14 billion dollars in the US alone!

💀 It seems that after months of social distancing and whatnot, Americans are more eager to celebrate than ever. Two-thirds of Americans reported planning to celebrate Halloween in 2021 one way or another. On top of that, as many as 82% of families with children 👪 will take part in this year’s holidays!

💀 Have you ever wondered what the most popular ways to celebrate Halloween are? Here’s a breakdown in percentages:

  • 66% of the people – when asked to state their favorite way of participating in Halloween – said handing out candy to trick-or-treaters 🍬
  • 52% love to get into the spooky spirit by decorating their house 🏚️
  • 46% indulge in wearing costumes 👻
  • 44% let their creative minds free by carving pumpkins 🎃
  • 25% use this holiday as a chance to party 🎉

✅ If you're amongst the 25% of people who are getting ready for a party, prepare yourself with the party drink calculator - don't risk running out!

💀 It’s no secret that people love to be scared! This year, as many as 22% of people in the Northeast of the US plan to celebrate Halloween by visiting a haunted house. And they’re going to leave quite a lot of money there, too. Annually, haunted houses earn as much as half a billion dollars.

💀 You’d think that having originated in the Celtic world, Halloween would be at least as big in the UK as it is in the States. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, in 2006, nearly 58% of British homeowners admitted to turning off their lights and pretending no one’s home to avoid trick-or-treaters!

💀 Wondering what candy to buy to suit your local trick-or-treaters’ tastes? Here’s a breakdown of America’s favorite Halloween sweets 🍭, according to Candy Store.

  • Reese’s Cups
  • Skittles
  • M&M’s
  • Starbursts
  • Hot Tamales
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Snickers
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Candy Corn

Science this Halloween up! Holiday-themed experiments and activities

Here at Omni, we value science and learning above anything else – especially learning through fun! Halloween is an excellent opportunity for that, so we’ve gathered some spooky ideas to science this year’s celebrations up for you and your kids. Check out the links for detailed instructions!

  • The Puking Pumpkin 🎃 is a spooky twist on the classic homemade volcano. To do this experiment, you’ll need to prepare a traditional Jack O’ Lantern like you usually would – except this time, instead of candles, it will end up filled with baking soda, soap, and vinegar. TIP: prepare the experiment site beforehand. It’s going to get messy!

  • Your kids are bound to enjoy making Witch’s Slime 🧹⚗️. Grab some glue, shaving cream, baking soda, and saline solution, and brew away!

  • You can use Halloween to teach physics, too! A great way to do that is building a Pumpkin Catapult. With its help, your kids will learn about the laws of motion and whatnot in a fun, engaging way. For those who like to study via practice, we've also prepared a projectile motion experiment that you can do easily at home.

  • Another great, simple idea is this Spooky Liquid Density experiment. With all the decorating, baking, and costume making, you’re bound to have different food colorings and various liquids in your house. You can use them to prepare a spooky, layered wizard’s brew 🧙 to teach your kids about different densities of seemingly similar substances. The density calculator can be useful if you'd like to use some numbers for comparison!

Madhumathi Raman and Maria Kluziak
Related calculators
Boo! 👻 This calculator estimates how much candy you need to buy for Halloween 🎃 You can base it off the estimated number of trick-or-treaters coming to your doorstep or the size of your candy container! 🍬
What do you want to know?
I want to know
how much 🍬 I need
Let’s find out how much 🍬 you need!
Trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood
Decoration type
Normally decorated 🎃
Weather type
Extreme ⛈️ 🌪️ 🥵
Amount of 🍬in a pack
🍬 per pack 🛍️
You need to buy 🍬
Candies per kid
candies 🍬 per kid
Total no. of candies
candies 🍬
Total packs of candy
packs 🛍️
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