Consumers love to fill those gift baskets with guilty pleasures.

Jane Neal, Content Editor

March 25, 2024

4 Min Read
Easter candy, bhofack2, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Easter candybhofack2, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Who doesn’t have thing for sweets, whether it’s candies, chocolates or squishy PEEPS? Even people who might not be consuming sweets are still buying them, according to the 2024 State of Treating report published by the National Confectioners Association (NCA). More than 98% of American consumers purchased chocolate, candy, gum and mints last year. And Easter is a holiday synonymous with sweets. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics say most Americans (81%) will observe the holiday this year in some way, the same as last year. And the NCA found 92% of Americans who celebrate Easter do so with chocolate and candy – and 85% of people who make Easter baskets include these special, seasonal treats.

Last year, confectionery sales hit $48 billion, a number largely driven by inflation. The NCA’s report projects U.S. confectionery sales will zoom to $61 billion by 2028.

“Our new research shows that, even when faced with unpredictable environmental shifts and changes, consumers feel a strong connection to chocolate and candy – and they embrace classic favorites and innovative novelties with an emotional drive that keeps the category fresh and vibrant,” says John Downs, president, chief executive officer, NCA. “Consumers seek out chocolate and candy to help enhance holiday seasons, family celebrations and those important ‘treat yourself’ moments.”

Related:Easter Spending Expected to Top $22 Billion

According to Numerator, in the four-week lead-up to Easter 2023, nearly half of U.S. households bought Easter chocolate candy. During that time, a huge majority of U.S. households (86%) bought candy in some form. Among those households, 43% bought Easter chocolate candy and 33% purchased Easter non-chocolate candy; 65% purchased non-seasonal chocolate candy and 54% purchased non-seasonal, non-chocolate candy. For all candy, the top brands by sales were perennial favorites: Reese’s, M&M’S, Hershey’s, private label and Wrigley’s. 

A reported 53% of Easter shoppers intend to buy candy, making Easter the second most popular holiday for candy purchasing after Halloween, according to Numerator. The NRF expects spending on candy this Easter to reach $3.1 billion. The NCA reports the Easter season generates more than $5 billion in confectionery sales.

As winter begins to wane and we head into the Easter season, licensed candy deals pop up like spring blossoms. The NCA reported Frankford Candy added five items to its Easter selection, including two PEEPS treat sets, a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Strawberry Bunny, Dunkin’ Assorted Donut-Flavor-Filled Chocolate Eggs and Claussen Pickles Jelly Beans.

“Easter is the perfect time to share treats with friends and family, especially with iconic brands like PEEPS and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies,” says Molly Jacobson, director, business development, Frankford Candy. “And new seasonal chocolates like the Dunkin’ Assorted Donut-Flavor-Filled Chocolate Eggs and Claussen Pickle Jelly Beans are sure to make for a sweet surprise.”

“The Easter season signals the start of spring – and is a perfect showcase of the continued excitement consumers have for incorporating chocolate and candy into their special occasions,” says Downs. “No matter what treats they prefer, Americans can agree that every celebration is sweeter with chocolate and candy.”

Keeping it Mallow

PEEPS, the non-chocolate Easter candy brand embraced or despised by opinionated consumers, announced an Easter candy collection that includes four new and marshmallow creations, as well as the classics PEEPS. New to the PEEPS collection are Rice Krispies Treats-flavored marshmallow Chicks available exclusively at Walmart. The brand has also partnered with the ICEE frozen treat brand for Blue Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Chicks available only at Target.

Earlier this month, Stuffed Puffs, the leading innovator in filled marshmallows, announced the launch of egg-shaped marshmallows with sour candy filling. Created under a licensing agreement with The Hershey Company, the candy features the JOLLY RANCHER brand’s flavors.

Also this month, Maurizio Distefano Licensing announced a variety of Easter collaborations for chocolate and confectionery products. Among the popular brands featured include “Masha and The Bear,” “Bluey,” “Bing” and “ALVINNN!!! And the Chipmunks.”

Bunnies or Eggs?

Business Insider reports chocolate bunnies account for 58% of Easter basket spending, followed by candy and stuffed animals. However, despite the popularity of chocolate bunnies, Statista reports chocolate eggs are the most popular type of Easter candy, easily beating bunnies and Jelly beans. According to the NCA, Americans’ top Easter treats include:

  • Chocolate eggs or bunnies

  • Jelly beans

  • Candy-coated eggs

  • Marshmallow candy

One of the biggest debates of the season is how to eat a chocolate Easter bunny. The NCA find Americans are divided: 78% start with the bunny’s ears, 16% jump in to eat the feet first and just 6% of people go right for the tail. For those who prefer their chocolate egg-shaped, 42% of people want a solid chocolate egg, 35% of consumers are looking for a filling on their first bite and 23% of Americans are happiest with a hollow treat.

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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