Halloween Polling: American opinion on candy, decorations, and the supernatural

October 13, 2022, 5:07 PM GMT+0

It's the spookiest season of the year (no, not because of the November elections). In recent years, YouGov has conducted Halloween polling on the most popular candy for children, when to put up spooky decorations, Americans' paranormal experiences, and many other terrifying topics. With Halloween just around the corner, check out YouGov's polling on the top issues around fright night.

Young trick-or-treaters want Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

It's never too early to start purchasing (and eating) Halloween treats that will make your house the top stop on trick-or-treating night. A 2021 YouGov poll of 8- to 14-year-olds found that the most popular item for kids to score on Halloween night is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, followed closely by several other chocolate treats: the Original M&Ms candy, the Milky Way bar, the Hershey's milk chocolate bar, and Kit Kats. Also, you can save the black licorice and sugar-free gum — they are among kids' last choices for treats to grab.

Read more: What is kids' favorite trick-or-treat candy?

Kids are more likely than adults to pick sour candies on Halloween

American adults and kids enjoy many of the same Halloween candies — such as M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Kit Kats. But there are some treats that kids definitely like more than grown-ups. In a 2021 YouGov poll, kids were much more likely to select sour candies, fruit-flavored candies, or chewy candies as the better of two treats. More than adults, they love Sour Punch Twists, sparking Pop Rocks, chewy AirHeads, or the straight sugar rush of Pixy Stix. Adults are better off taking dark chocolate bars, chocolate mints, and chocolate-covered nuts for themselves.

Read more: The most popular Halloween candy in America

About one in five Americans would pretend not to be home if kids tried to trick-or-treat at their house

More than three in five Americans (63%) are ready for Halloween trick-or-treaters and would give them candy or treats if they came knocking, according to a 2021 YouGov poll. But not everyone is in the Halloween spirit — 21% of Americans would pretend not to be home, and 2% say they would answer the door but give them nothing. British people (43%) are much more likely than Americans to say they would not answer the door or pretend not to be home, according to a similar 2018 poll question.

Read more: Do Americans actually like Halloween?

What types of Halloween costumes do Americans wear?

One-quarter of Americans shared plans to wear a Halloween costume in 2022, with 12% having a costume picked out by the time the mid-October poll was conducted. Among people who had costumes picked out, entirely store-bought outfits (35%) were favored over entirely homemade costumes (16%). Many with costume plans will dress as a fictional person or character (34%), an animal or creature (25%), or a person from history (21%). When asked to describe their costume, 37% said their costume was "funny" and one-third described it as "simple."

Read more: What Halloween costumes will Americans be wearing in 2022?

No film genre divides Americans like horror does

No movie genre divides Americans quite like horror does: One in four people love it, and the proportions who like it, dislike it, and hate it are about the same, according to a 2022 poll by YouGov, which asked Americans to rank 10 genres of film. More than twice as many people hate the genre than hate any of the other nine polled. But people who enjoy horror are more likely to say they love it than are fans of any of the other genres polled. Americans who grew up in the peak horror period of the 1980s — or just before or after — are among the most die-hard fans of the genre. The most preferred way to watch horror is at night and with other people. But this shouldn't be too hard to accomplish for horror fans, most of whom say they share their love of the genre with a partner or parent — or both.

Read more: No film genre divides Americans like horror does

Americans rank their favorite horror movies

Few holidays are as intertwined with a major genre of entertainment as Halloween is with horror. From Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho, to Jordan Peele's 2019 thriller Us, a recent YouGov poll asks what Americans think of 35 popular horror movies. While each movie asked about is highly rated, the critically-acclaimed 1992 psychological horror film The Silence of the Lambs is the only one to place close to the top of the list by two different ways of ranking the films.

Read more: Ranking Americans' favorite horror movies

Two-thirds of Americans say they've had a paranormal encounter

Have you ever felt an eerie, unexplained presence? Seen the lights flicker at unexpected moments? Heard a whisper from a mysterious source? Past YouGov polling has found that about two in five Americans (41%) believe that ghosts exist. And, according to a 2022 YouGov poll, 67% of Americans believe they've had at least one of 13 paranormal experiences polled about. One in three people who've had paranormal experiences say that they've lived in a house they believe is haunted. One scientific explanation for paranormal encounters — sleep paralysis — also finds support in our data. People who say they've had experiences with the paranormal are twice as likely as people who haven't to say they've had sleep paralysis at some point in their life.

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Which Stephen King books have Americans read, and which are their favorites?

Looking for a spooky read? Check out the writing of author Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers in the genres of horror and supernatural fiction. A 2022 YouGov poll finds that half of Americans have read at least one of his books, and most people who've read one have gone back for more. Among the most widely read King books are those that have been adapted into films, including Carrie, The Shining, Pet Sematary, and IT. The favorite among Americans who've read multiple King books, however, is one that has stayed on the small screen: The Stand.

Read more: Which Stephen King books have Americans read, and which are their favorites?

One-quarter of Americans throw out their pumpkin-carving seeds

Americans don't have a lot of faith in their pumpkin-carving abilities. About one-third (32%) describe themselves as very good (8%) or somewhat good (24%) at carving pumpkins in a 2021 poll. A similar share (35%) say they are "not very good" (19%) or "not good at all" (16%), and another 26% won't even try to design a pumpkin. But the Americans who are carving pumpkins this year likely will face the question of what to do with the pumpkin seeds inside the gourd. Nearly three in 10 (29%) keep the seeds to eat, while one-quarter (25%) throw them out. One in 20 (5%) keep them for crafting, and 8% keep them for other purposes.

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When can Halloween decorations go up?

About two in five Americans (43%) say the earliest acceptable time to display Halloween decorations is between October 1-15, while 21% say it's OK to put them up between October 16-30. Just 16% say it's acceptable to put them up before October, and 6% never find Halloween decorations acceptable, according to a 2021 poll.

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