Hershey Co. (NYSE:HSY), Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TR), and Nestle are the high rollers on Wall Street this October. At this time of year it is customary for Wall Street to experience some tightening of the belt by investors as consumer spending generally shrinks.
However, as we reported yesterday, there is one area that the consumer spending almost never shrinks in October, and that is candy sales. Even back in 2008 during the financial crunch candy sales managed to squeeze out a 0.3 percent gain in a market that lost 4.4 percent overall. Even during years when the market was on a positive roll in the fall, candy sales posted even larger gains.
Candy Is The Comfort Food Of Recession
According to Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, there is a good reason behind the steady rise of candy sales during hard times. Stice has written multiple academic papers discussing the addictive qualities of sugar and how those addictive qualities can play on our emotions during hard times.
The evidence he has found supports the theory that we find candy even more attractive and desirable during hard times, than we do in good times. Stice says, “The same Snickers candy bar will feel more rewarding if you’re feeling cruddy or eating it in a depressed emotional state. It’s the same as giving away $1 million – it will mean much more to a poor man than to a millionaire.”
Hurricane Sandy Only Made A Slight Decrease In Sales
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy slammed into the east coast just two days prior to Halloween. While this forced the cancellation of many Halloween parties and festivities, the candy industry still posted a nice rise for the year. The numbers stacked up to a 0.5 percent rise and $2.37 billion in revenue.
Susan Whiteside, a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association, said, “Candy plays such an important role in so many of our family traditions, we don’t want to give it up, even when times are tough.”
Candy Makers Working On Healthier Product Lines
Because of recent research linking candy to far more devastating health effects than just tooth decay, many candy makers are on a quest to create more healthy varieties of treats. Sugar has addictive qualities in lab rats, and many scientists fear the same may be true of humans. Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy in the University of California’s San Francisco campus, says the reason for candy sales increasing each year is simple – “Unlike alcohol, it’s cheap.”
Candy makers have introduced new lines of candy that include sea-salt caramels and candies that are loaded with B vitamins and electrolytes. However, don’t think for a moment that these concoctions are any less delicious than candy from previous years. They still include high amounts of sugar, so they are guaranteed to help satisfy those of us with a sweet tooth.