Get the inside scoop for your Halloween candy selection


It's that time of year again - time to choose what Halloween candy to buy for the trick-or-treaters! This is always a tough decision that has me angsting in the candy aisle. And if selecting the perfect candy wasn't enough pressure, my city (Cary, NC) was recently recognized as #1 on the list of the Top 10 cities in the US for Halloween treats! With all that in mind, this year I decided to use data & analytics to help select the perfect candy ...

Random picture #1 (Kara's son, ready for Halloween):


After a bit of research on the candy topic, I was somewhat surprised to find that there are basically 3 companies supplying almost all of the Halloween candy. I found a graph of the supplier data on, but it had a few problems. The biggest no-no is that they used a 3d pie chart - this distorts the relative sizes of the pie slices. I made my version two dimensional, and also rotated the pie so that the equal-sized Mars & Hershey's slices are symmetrical about the middle of the pie (that makes it easier to see that they are the same size). Here's my simpler/improved pie chart:


Random picture #2 (my friend Mary has some fabulous costumes - I don't stand a chance of out-costuming her ... but perhaps I can give out better candy!)


Now , let's decide which specific candy treats to buy... The main selection criteria I use is that I want to have popular candy (and with a secondary criteria being that I want it to be candy I like, in case there is some left over that I am forced to eat!)

I did several searches, and found many lists of the most popular Halloween candy. But most of them were just rankings, with no quantitative/numeric data. I finally found a nice list on with the number of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" votes for each candy. Here's a screen-capture of the top part of their list:


I liked their list - it was visually captivating, and somewhat interactive. I liked that it had images of each candy, and links to buy that candy on But it didn't give a visual way for me to easily compare the number of 'thumbs' votes each candy had received. So I got the data into a SAS dataset, and came up with the following graph to visualize the numbers:


How did your favorite candy do in this ranking? Was there anything you found surprising or interesting in the graph? Did the graph influence your candy selection this year?   :-)

Random picture #3: (Jennifer's daughter after trick-or-treating in Cary)



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 25 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).


    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      In the table, there is a number to the right - I believe that is what they use to rank them. When you click on this number, they show three measures (voted up, listed it, and ranked high) - I'm not sure how they combine/weight/etc the numbers to get the final single-number that they're ranking by, though :)

  1. Pingback: How to scare up a few good graphs for Halloween - SAS Learning Post

Leave A Reply

Back to Top