Here at Food Dive, we love any holiday that gives us an excuse to look at candy trends. This week happens to be special, since we have two reasons to consider American consumers' chocolate habits—today being National Chocolate Day, with Halloween hot on its tail this Thursday.
Candy companies are mixing it up for Halloween this year, and new launches and disruptions in the confections space are hard to miss. Mars and Hershey still own the hearts and minds of U.S. chocolate-lovers, though, and recent survey results from Experian Marketing Services and Packaged Facts show how much of an advantage the country's top five chocolate candies have over the the rest of the top ten.
Chocolate candy has actually seen a healthy helping of shakeups over the past decade. According to survey data on U.S. adults' most preferred picks, M&M's used to reign supreme with 19% of respondents calling them a favorite in 2004. This year, peanut M&M's still command 12.3% of consumers' taste buds as a chocolate candy "eaten most often," and that stat is good enough for fourth place on our list. As a category, however, M&M's without peanuts (and all other varieties) trail behind in sixth place with only 10.1% of survey-takers saying they eat them most often.
So who is No. 1 today? According to the data provided to us by Packaged Facts, it's Mars' Snickers bars. The well-recognized name scored as a favorite with 15.5% of respondents in 2004, but its appeal has since expanded to gain favor with 17.4% of the survey's chocolate-eaters.
Right behind Snickers is Hershey's peanut butter cup category leader Reese's. You may have recently read that Nestle is trying to chip away at Hershey's Reese's audience with the launch of Butterfinger peanut butter cups in 2014. It's easy to see why when you read that Reese's has gone from a a 13.3%-favorite on this survey in 2004 to now boast a No. 2 spot and 15.6% rating in 2013.
As for the rest of the top 15 scorers on the survey, here's a look at who made the cut. Just remember when you look at the percentages that there is some overlap, since survey-takers may claim to eat more than one option most often.
Brands of Chocolate Candy Eaten Most Often Among U.S. Adults, 2013
2. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups—15.6%
3. Hershey's Kisses—12.6%
4. Peanut M&M's—12.3%
5. Kit Kat—11.7%
6. Other M&M's—10.1%
7. Hershey's Milk Chocolate—9.2%
9. Almond Joy—8.6%
10. Hershey's Almond—8.0%
11. 3 Musketeers—7.5%
12. Milky Way—6.6%
14. Baby Ruth—4.9%
15. York Peppermint Patties—4.2%
[Source: Packaged Facts, based on Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NCS Adult Spring Studies 12-Month. Base: Households. Copyright: 2013. Experian Information Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.]
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