You've probably noticed your Facebook friends posting declarations that they're giving up treats like chocolate and gum for Lent. It's a common sacrifice, but not one big enough to put a dent in candy sales. In fact, they go up — consumers spend about half a billion dollars on candy this time of year.
"Lent doesn't have an overall effect on the sale of chocolate," Susan F. Whiteside of the National Confectioners Association, an international trade association for the candy, chocolate and gum industries, told Life's Little Mysteries.
Even with people giving up chocolate during Lent, the spring candy season does quite well in the end. That's because Lent, which began this year on March 9 and will continue until April 23, comes right before Easter Sunday (April 24, this year). The Easter season, which begins on Feb. 15 — the day after Valentine's Day — and ends one week after Easter, is the second busiest candy-selling time of the year, outsold only by Halloween.
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American consumers spend about $500 million on candy during the week leading up to Easter, according to the Nielsen Co., which examines sales figures. Nielsen’s research shows that the average shopper's sweet tooth hones in on chocolate goodies during the Lent/Easter season, with approximately 70 percent of U.S. candy dollars spent on chocolate during this time.
"Based on polls, the most popular Easter candy is the chocolate bunny," Whiteside said. "Then come chocolate eggs, jelly beans and marshmallow candy such as Peeps."
During the week leading up to Easter, about 71 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold, compared with nearly 90 million pounds sold during Halloween week, according to Nielsen. Commonly thought of as the official holiday of chocolate, the week of Valentine’s Day actually sells only 48 million pounds of chocolate.
For those swearing off candy for Lent, it'll be a real test of self-restraint to not slip up and nibble on a chocolate bunny ear while stocking up on sweets as Easter approaches.