By: Ryan Fuemmeler
Halloween Costume Trends from Late 19th Century Until 1990s:
In the late 19th century, dressing in costumes for Halloween was becoming more widespread, and individuals turned to more classical Halloween symbols like ghosts and witches. Mass produced, store bought costumes had not begun yet so most outfits were homemade. People also had a fascination with “exotic” and “oriental” fashion and decor at this time, so it was not uncommon to see people donning apparel resembling royalty from Asia and Africa.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Halloween was increasing common– now celebrated as a community. By the 20s, most people were wearing disposable paper costumes manufactured by the Dennison Paper Company who ultimately established orange, purple, black, and yellow as the iconic colors of Halloween.
In the 1930s and 40s, pre-packaged costumes including plastic masks of famous characters from pop culture began selling, although they were quite expensive for the Great Depression. Moreover, with the popularization of TV in the 1950’s, character costumes became the go-to. This trend continued all the way into the 70s, bringing along costumes like Snow White, Peter Pan, Barbie, and an assortment of Star Wars characters.
In the first half of the 1980s, E.T. was an insanely popular costume due to the iconic and Oscar award winning movie. Although, Halloween costumes took a turn after the 1978 release of “Halloween.” Suddenly, costumes became violent, bloody, and gory, which had not ever been seen beforehand.
Finally in the 1990s, another shift was caused in popular Halloween costumes. Straying away from the ever-popular character costume, individuals began to opt for non-living items. Dressing as food or items labeled with a favorite brand became quite prevalent. These included garments such as fast food from McDonald’s or even Halloween candy itself.
Halloween Candy Trends From 1920s Until 1990s:
One of the most iconic activities of Halloween is, of course, trick-or-treating. Homeowners were handing out snacks to kids in costumes for a few years prior before it was known as “trick-or-treating,” though. The term was first used in a Canadian newspaper in 1927. They wrote, “The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.” From then on, trick-or-treating slowly rose in popularity, as well as the treats given out on Halloween. These are the most popular Halloween candies from each decade!
1920s: Baby Ruth, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Oh Henry! Bars, and Bit-O-Honey.
1930s: 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Candy Buttons, and Boston Baked Beans
1940s: M&M’s, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Jolly Ranchers, Almond Joy
1950s: Atomic Fireballs, Necco Wafers, Satellite Wafers, and black licorice flavored candy
1960s: SweeTARTS, Mike & Ike, Pixy Stix, Starburst, and banana flavored candy
1970s: Laffy Taffy, Pop Rocks, fizzy ZotZ, Blow Pops, Fun Dip
1980s: Skittles, Runts, Nerds, gummy bears, Ring Pops, and Sour Patch Kids
1990s: Airheads, Baby Bottle Pops, Push Pops, Bubble Gum Jugs, and Warheads