Where do you go to get the most Halloween candy? After coming up with a suitable costume this question was a key topic in our house for many years. The answer was important to my children because I try to never buy them candy. Their primary source of candy was this one holiday. If they got a large enough haul at Halloween, they might have enough candy to last till next Halloween.
We lived in a town that was perfect for experimenting. The town was divided into neighborhoods which were separated by large and busy main roads. The north neighborhood had mansions and millionaires. The central neighborhood was upper middle class. The south neighborhood (where we lived) was lower middle class and as you approached the very southern border poor.
What made the town great for experimenting was that it was possible to walk to all the different sections in a single night if you were interested in answering the question “where do you go to get the most candy?” and were not interested in simply collecting. By visiting all the neighborhoods in one evening, variables like weather, economic conditions and the particular day of the week were all taken into account.
I was able once to convince my children to test all the neighborhoods. I did it by a combination of telling them that finding out the answer was important for all their future Halloweens collections and by promising to buy enough candy to make up any shortfall. The results were pretty clear and are summarized in the below picture.
The graph has the average income of each neighborhood on the x-axis and how much candy would be collected on the y-axis. The data suggested an upside down u shape. What does that shape tell us?
You never want to go Trick or Treating in the richest part of town. First, many people were not home. More importantly, it took a long time to walk between the homes and a long time for people to answer the door because their homes were so large. While the candy tended to be more expensive and larger, the haul from the rich part of town was relatively low.
You also didn’t want to go Trick or Treating in the poorest part of town. Like the richest part of town many people were not home. Those that were home gave out small pieces of candy that were often not very tasty or exciting.
The best part of town was the lower middle class neighborhood. The area that had homes packed closely together provided the ability to ring a large number of doorbells quickly. More importantly, because lots of children showed up there was often no waiting for someone to answer the door. While the candy was not as fancy as what was given out in the rich neighborhood, the vast quantity more than made up for slight change in quality.
While I have not rerun the experiment again, I am interested in knowing if your experiences matched mine.