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Halloween carries on

One of the biggest issues that has been debated since late summer has been whether children would be able to trick-or-treat this year.

Certainly, the concerns are real, especially because there are signs that COVID-19 could be making another surge.

Community leaders around the country think the annual tradition can be done safely, if everyone involved follows the general guidelines that have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — keep in small groups, wear masks and use lots of hand sanitizer. That includes the cities, villages and townships in our region, just about all of which have decided that trick-or-treating will be done the evening of Oct. 31, with some areas holding theirs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and others from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Candymakers, of course, have been hedging their bets on Halloween, with holiday-specific candy being spotted on store shelves since the early part of August.

You can understand why — there’s a lot of money at stake, especially in the middle of a pandemic which has devastated some businesses while merely severely harming others.

WalletHub, the Washington, D.C.-based personal-finance website, for instance, reported that in 2019, that $8.8 billion in Halloween-related spending had been expected. Its estimates were that $3.2 billion would have been spent on costumes and $2.6 billion had been expected to be spent on candy.

It should come as no surprise that those numbers will be lower this year. In fact, that total is expected to fall by 8.3 percent this year to $8.05 billion in total spending, according to an article written by Kimberly Amadeo for the personal finance Website the Balance. The numbers also show the number of Americans who will celebrate Halloween this year — 148 million — is lower than the 172 million who celebrated last year.

The National Retail Federation, meanwhile, reports that average spending per person this year will be $92.12, up from last year’s $86.27.

So, there’s no question that even as we battle through the pandemic, there will be a lot of money spent on candy for Halloween.

Just how that money will be spent always is interesting. Our annual informal newsroom survey shows a wide range of favorites.

Community Editor Janice Kiaski, for instance, listed several classics — peppermint patties, the Payday bar and the Maple Bun, the flat, circular confection that includes a cream center that is covered in chocolate and nuts. It’s been around under that name since the 1940s.

Staff writer Linda Harris and Craig Howell, managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, are close on their favorites, with Linda choosing Mounds and Craig Almond Joy. Sports writer Andrew Grimm likes anything Reese’s, while Sports Editor Joe Catullo favors Twix (before you ask, he said right.) Staff writer Warren Scott said his favorite was Whatchamacallit, and City Editor Mike McElwain listed Kit Kat and Cookies ‘n Creme.

Those favorites vary a lot from the annual list of favorite Halloween candies as compiled by CandyStore.com, which this year ranks Skittles at the top, followed by Reese’s, Starburst, M&Ms, Hot Tamales, candy corn, Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, Hershey Kisses and Jolly Ranchers.

There’s also a wide range when you look at favorites among the states. In Ohio, for instance, the favorites are Blow Pops, M&Ms and Starburst. In West Virginia, the favorites are Hershey’s Mini Bars, Blow Pops and Milky Way. And in Pennsylvania, it’s Hershey’s Mini Bars, Skittles and M&Ms.

Wondering what are considered to be the worst Halloween candies? Well, candy corn again tops that list, followed by peanut butter kisses, circus peanuts, wax pop bottles, Smarties, NECCO Wafers, Tootsie Rolls, Mary Janes, Good & Plenty and licorice.

I didn’t forget — when it comes to my favorites, I think it’s tough to beat a Snickers bar, a bag of Reese’s Pieces or a white chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

So try to enjoy Halloween this year — no matter where your favorite candy falls on the lists.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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