Visions of sugar plums and all other types of candies are dancing in the heads of not only children but adults too during the winter holiday season, according to a holiday snacking report byThe NPD Group(, a global information and advisory services company. The report finds that 50% of adults, out of a sample of 4,906 adults celebrating Christmas, purchase candy for the holidays and 54% of these sweet-snacking adults intend to eat it or their family to eat it.

Overall, candy ranks number one as the top snack item purchased for the holidays, according to NPD’s SnackTrack® Holidays Christmas Profile, which looks at consumers’ activities, purchase behavior, and attitudes surrounding Christmas. Next, in rank order, are chips, purchased by 38% of adults; fresh fruit, purchased by 36% of adults; and crackers and nuts, each purchased by 31% of adults.

In addition to eating it themselves, 44% of adults bought candy for gifting, and the remaining candy purchasers use it for holiday entertaining and other activities. When it comes to the type of candy consumed, 51% of candy eaters consume seasonal/holiday chocolate candy. Candy canes are a next favorite followed, in rank order, by snack-size chocolate candy bars, gift box chocolates, and then seasonal/holiday non-chocolate candy. 

Candy shoppers break the traditional rule of shopping from lists during the holiday season, according to the NPD Christmas snacking report.  Impulse is identified as the premier driver for 15% of candy/treat purchases and impulse candy shopping happens everywhere. Women and men vary where they shop in the store for candy. Women gravitated to the seasonal section for candy shopping whereas men favored the regular candy section.

 “Whether its stockings stuffed with chocolates or candy canes dangling from the Christmas tree, candy is a top holiday food tradition,” says Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst. “The winter holiday period offers manufacturers and retailers incredible potential for growth, and an opportunity to differentiate brands and drive additional sales by understanding consumers’ attitudes and behaviors related candy.”