Autumn is in the air. You can tell because everything smells like pumpkin spice. That's because every product known to man has a pumpkin spice version. I filled my car's tank with gasoline the other day and I'm pretty sure it's now burning pumpkin spice octane. 


Anyway, with autumn underway it means that Halloween will quickly be upon us. Halloween is a big deal in the United States. According to the National Retailers Association, every Halloween shopper will spend an average $86.27. “That works out to $8.8 billion in total spending. Consumers plan to spend $3.2 billion on costumes, $2.6 billion on candy, $2.7 billion on decorations and $390 million on greeting cards.” 


Spending all that money is not all that happens due to the holiday. “Among those celebrating, 69 percent plan to hand out candy, 49 percent plan to decorate their home or yard, 47 percent will dress in costume, 44 percent will carve a pumpkin, 32 percent will throw or attend a party, 29 percent will take their children trick-or-treating, 22 percent will visit a haunted house and 17 percent will dress their pets in costume.” (https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/social-media-influencing-near-record-halloween-spending)


Of course, candy is at the epicenter of Halloween. It's all for the kids, right? No adult ever thinks about hiding a bag of Heath miniatures for personal consumption, right? With this in mind, it's important to stockpile the correct candy choices. 


CandyStore.com has surveyed over 30,000 customers and based on that has come up with a list of the Worst Halloween Candies of 2019. The survey says no kid wants to find these in their trick-or-treat bag. From 10 to 1 they are: Bit-O-Honey, Good & Plenty, Licorice, Smarties, Tootsie Rolls, Necco Wafers, Wax Coke Bottles, Peanut Butter Kisses, Circus Peanuts, Candy Corn.


Now, if you want to be a Halloween hit with the kidlings, get some of the Ten Best Halloween Candies. From 10 to 1 they are: Hershey Bar, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Butterfinger, Nerds, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Twix, Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 



When asked to name their favorite candies, respondents from each state had their own preferences. Michiganders chose Starburst, Candy Corn and Skittles for their top three. Oddities came up, too. New York, Ohio and Arizona chose Hot Tamales as their number one candy. To see the favorites in every state, check out a cool interactive candy map at: https://www.candystore.com/blog/facts-trivia/halloween-candy-map-popular/


Intertwined with all the candy consumption on Halloween is the tradition of fear. Simply, we like to be afraid. Halloween gives us a chance to be scared. Oddly enough, there's science behind this. 


According to Healthline: “If scary stuff makes you laugh, both your body and mind are the cause. When we're afraid our bodies release different chemicals that can contribute to feeling good under the right circumstances. The positive feelings are caused by different neurotransmitters and hormones released when the body feels fear. So if we're in a situation where we know we're safe, like a haunted house, think of it as hijacking the flight response and enjoying it.” (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-we-like-to-be-scared#1)


This is different than our daily superstitions. YouGov found that superstitions are more likely to affect Americans between the ages of 25 to 35 with 23 percent of that group defining themselves as very superstitious. This compares with just 12 percent of 18-24-year-olds who claim to be superstitious. The least superstitious age group is the over-55s with 43 percent saying they are not superstitious at all. (https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/09/13/friday-the-13th-unlucky-poll-survey)


With all those numbers in mind, Ranker.com says most of us secretly believe in some superstitions (even if we don't publicly admit it). The top ones are : Knocking on Wood, Wishing on a Star, Four-Leaf Clover, Bad News Comes in Threes, Crossing Your Fingers for Luck, Lucky Penny, saying "Bless You" after a sneeze, Beginner's Luck,  

Breaking a Mirror, The Wishbone. (https://www.ranker.com/list/superstitions-you-secretly-believe/analise.dubner?)


Finally, consider this interesting Halloween observation by author Douglas Coupland. “I think if human beings had genuine courage, they'd wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. Wouldn't life be more interesting that way? And now that I think about it, why the heck don't they? Who made the rule that everybody has to dress like sheep 364 days of the year? Think of all the people you'd meet if they were in costume every day. People would be so much easier to talk to - like talking to dogs.”


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews


Interactive map.

On a computer, hover the cursor over a state to see the results. 

On an iPad, touch a state with your finger.

Source: CandyStore.com.