Boo! Scaring up Halloween sales

Halloween takes its name from a Catholic holy day - All Hallows' eve, the eve of All Saints' Day, reports the Chicago Tribune. Ringing doorbells can be traced to medieval Europe and the practice of "souling," in which the poor went house to house to ask for food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (Nov. 2). In 19th century Ireland and Scotland, children carried lanterns carved from turnips and dressed up in costumes and went door to door asking for food or coins. But when the tradition came to America, pumpkins became the lantern of choice. Incidentally, 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins were grown in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. Census.


Consumers will spend $72.31 each on Halloween candy, decorations and costumes this October, compared with $66.28 in 2010. Of the 9,374 consumers surveyed by the National Retail Federation, 73.5 percent said they will hand out candy this year, and 32.9 percent will take kids trick-or-treating. On average, consumers will spend about $21.05 each on Halloween candy, up slightly from an estimated $20.29 in 2010. Overall Halloween product spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion, and more than 68 percent of U.S. residents say they plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent in 2010 and the most during the past 10 years. However, according to the same survey results, nearly one third said the economy will impact their Halloween plans, as 87.1 percent said they planned to spend less overall, and 40.2 percent claimed they would buy less candy. FYI, the average American consumed 14.7 pounds of candy in 2010.


The average spend is expected to be $53, down from $73 in 2010, according to the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker, reports Reuters. Candy and decorations for parties and costumes will account for the biggest outlay, particularly among young professionals, who are expected to spend between $63 to $80 dressing up." There is no doubt that consumers are watching their wallets. But we know that they are taking part in Halloween and I think it is because Halloween is an experiential holiday," said Melanie Backs, manager of public affairs at American Express.


About 41 million children, aged five to 14 years old, went trick-or-treating last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But young and older children and adults also take part in the holiday. "Halloween has evolved from being a one-night event mostly focused on kids trick-or-treating to a full season. We're seeing candy and decorations on sale in late August," said Backs. About 70 percent of U.S. consumers will spend an average of $28 on candy and decorations. And it wouldn't be Halloween without a pumpkin, which will set back consumers about $18.


Ghosts, goblins and witches are usually top selling costumes for children and adults, but searches on revealed some unusual choices this year. Actor Charlie Sheen, was among the years' most controversial costume searches. "I heard Charlie Sheen will be a favorite one this year," said Backs. "There is also my personal favorite. I've been seeing Angry Bird costumes for both children and adults online," she added, referring to the popular video game. The National Retail Federation predicts the top costume for young girls for the seventh consecutive year will be princesses, and thanks to the popularity of Johnny Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirates for boys. Animal and bug costumes are also expected to be a hit.


Big G Cereals from General Mills brings back its Monster line for a limited time for Halloween, reports Progressive Grocer. "Many parents fondly remember when Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry cereals were first released and can connect with their kids through the playful characters and great taste," said an executive with General Mills.


Whether you like your Halloween treats sweet, spooky or somewhere in between, McCormick has you covered with simple baking and decorating ideas that will have kids of all ages howling with excitement.


A seasonal "Got Milk?" campaign from the national Milk Processors Education Program (MilkPEP) is bringing Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and Schroeder together on the 45th anniversary of the animated classic, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," licensed by Peanuts Worldwide in a print ad for the first time in 15 years, an attempt to make chocolate milk "the official drink of Halloween." "The primary goal is building awareness among moms that chocolate milk is a treat that they can feel good about giving their kids," says Victor Zaborsky, marketing director for MilkPEP. "In line with the Halloween theme, the message is that white milk is 'dressing up' as chocolate milk for the holiday -- that just like white milk, it provides nine essential nutrients."


Meanwhile, IHOP will serve up 'no tricks - just treats' this October, featuring a month-long celebration with pumpkin pancakes as well as All-You-Can-Eat Buttermilk pancakes, culminating in a free Scary Face Pancake giveaway for kids 12 and under on Friday, October 28 from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (one per child), reports Restaurant News.