A Sweet Estimation Question

by Victor Cheng


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Last night, I took my kids out for an American children’s holiday known as Halloween.

Kids (and some ahem... adults) dress up in costume (I was a penguin this year), go door-to-door, saying “Trick or Treat” and get free candy from the neighbors.

My three kids brought back a record 420 pieces of candy. Hallloween Candy

In today’s New York Times, I learned that in the weeks leading up to this holiday, Americans purchased $2.7 BILLION dollars in candy.

So here’s my challenge for you.

Assuming all of that candy is consumed by someone in America, estimate the total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy.

Assuming 3,500 calories consumed results in a person gaining 1 lb (0.45 kg) in weight, estimate how many pounds (or kilograms) of weight the American population will gain. Add a comment below to post your entry.

The winner will receive public acknowledgement of their estimation skills, and I will send them a portion of the candy “tax” I collected from my kids.

Yes, we tax our kids for a portion of their candy collection, as mom and dad provide “infrastructure” and “chaperone” services.

It’s a useful lesson in taxation.

(We tax at a 33% tax rate.)

Mostly it is an excuse to reduce the amount of sugar they will otherwise end up consuming.

For my kids, it’s an excuse to get rid of the candy they don’t like anyways.

Good luck and Happy Halloween!

Entries will be accepted for next 72 hours, and only entries posted as comments below will be considered. A winner will be announced next week.

UPDATE as of Friday, November 4TH AT 12PM ET: New entries are welcome, but not eligible to win, as contest has closed.

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{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter November 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

$2.7B spent on Hallowe’en candy
3,500 calories = 1 lb

If $1 = x calories, then $2.7B = 2.7B (x)
2.7B(x) calories / 3,500 (calories/lb) = Y

if x = 200 calories (or 200 calories for every dollar spent),
then Y = 154,285,714 lbs gained
OR, if estimated population is 330M people, that is 0.46lbs per person gained from Halloween candy consumption.


Ahmad Abdullah November 1, 2016 at 11:44 am

Total Cost ~ 2.7B
(assume 1$ a candy with 1000 calories in it)

US population should end up additionally ~ 350M Kgs Obese.


Hanne November 1, 2016 at 11:46 am

96 million pounds


JIAJIE YU November 1, 2016 at 11:47 am

147214286 lbs


Raymond Accary November 1, 2016 at 11:47 am

2.7 billion dollars in candy.
The average chocolate bar costs a $.
A bag of M&M costs like 4$ and has twice as much calories as a chocolate bar.

So I will assume that a single chocolate bar has 1.25x calories as much as there’s actually in it to account for the non-homogeneous calories distribution.

I’ll also assume that this ‘virtual candy’ represents the whole candy space.
The average chocolate bar has 350 calories. Multiplying that by 1.25, we get:
350 + 350/4 ~ 440 calories

Assuming the average cost of any virtual unit is 1$, we end up with 2.7 billion x 440 calories = 1,188 B calories.

1,188,000,000/3500 gives us ~ 340,000 pounds.

P.S: 340,000/ ~340,000,000 : The average U.S individual gained 0.001 pounds. Considering the fact that maybe 70% of the consumption stems from children aged between 5 and 15 (Maybe 10% of the population).

That means 70 % of 340,000 pounds were gained by 10% of 340,000,000.
240,000 pounds by 34 m children. The average child gained 0.007 pounds!


marie November 1, 2016 at 11:49 am

The American population will gain 38,571,428,571 pounds in weight.


Sunil November 1, 2016 at 11:49 am

Approx. 60 Million Lbs


Lillian November 1, 2016 at 11:50 am

144 billion calories
41 million pounds


aakashn November 1, 2016 at 11:51 am

Total Spent on Candy: $2,700,000,000

Cost Per Bag: $10.15

Total Bags Sold: 266,009,852
Pieces Per Bag: 95
Total Pieces Sold: 25,270,935,961
Avg Calories Per Piece: 100 cals/piece (assumption)
Total Calories: 2,527,093,596,059
Calories Per Pound: 3,500 cals/lb

Total Pounds Gained if all candy is consumed: 722,026,742 lbs or ~361,013 tons


Sandeep Bhutani November 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

2.2billion pounds


Abhinav Shankar November 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

Total revenue =$ 2700 million
Assume price per unit of candy =$2
Assume calories per unit of candy = 250 cal
Therefore, $ 2700 million /$2= 1350 million bars of candy consumed.
1350 million * 250 = 337,500 million calories consumed.


Kevin November 1, 2016 at 11:56 am

About 28,571 lbs


Elena Dvortsan November 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm

580.000.000 lbs


Samuel November 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Hi Victor,

1.4 trillion calories leading to an estimated 170 million kilograms gained seems fair.


Joe W November 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Let’s assume that a bag of candy is about ~$4. That makes roughly 600 million bags of candy.

Each bag of chocolate generally has 10 servings (eg. 8 hershey kisses in 80 piece bag, 3 kitkats in a 30 kitkat bag). Each serving of chocolate candy is generally ~200 calories. Every bag of hard candy, like lollipops, has maybe double the number of servings, but fewer calories for each serving, say 100 calories. So about the same number of total calories — 2000 — per bag.

That makes roughly 2000 calories per bag*600 million bags = 1.2 trillion calories. Divided by ~3500 calories is about ~350 million pounds, or about 1 lbs per person. Now, this doesn’t account that for kids, gaining a pound requires much fewer than 3500 calories — perhaps 2000. And that kids are probably the predominant consumers of the candy (aside from taxes their parents take). And that not all children celebrate Halloween. So I’d say it’s probably closer to 2 lbs just on the basis of a lower caloric requirement for weight gain. And more if you have a really good costume.


Ann November 1, 2016 at 12:08 pm

America gains
771,500 lbs


Mun Chun Chan November 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

347142 kg


Tracy Xu November 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

1. Halloween candies are usually hard candies. Assume 20 calories per candy, and assume 15 cents per candy. We have 2.7 billion in total of the spending, that leads to a total of 18 billion candies consumption (2.7 billion / 0.15). This leads to a total of 360 billion calories.

2. If 3500 calories results an increase of 1 lb, with a total of 360 billion calories, we have a gain of around 102.86 million lb (360 billion / 3500). So the American population will gain a total weight of 102.86 million with a 2.7 billion dollars of consumption in candies during Halloween week.


Kylie November 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

2.7 B in candy will add 57,857,142 pounds to the american population.


Adrian Obleton November 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

If we want to estimate the total amount of weight that the US population gained as a result of the candy sold for Halloween, there’s a few steps that we should take. First, Since we’re given $2.7B as the total dollar amount spent on candy, we need to determine the number of pieces of candy that represents by dividing by the average price of a piece of candy. Then we need to multiply that number of pieces by the average calories of a single piece of candy to get the total calories consumed. Once we have the total calories, we can divide by the calories per pound, given to us here as 3,500 to get the total number of pounds gained by people in the US as a result of Halloween candy.

1. To start off, lets assume that we could buy a bag of candy with 50 pieces of candy for ~$10. That would mean each piece of candy cost, on average, $0.20. Then we can divide 2.7B by $0.20 to give us 13.5B pieces of candy sold.
2. Then if we assume that a single piece of candy is ~50 calories, we can multiply the 13.5B pieces by 50 to get a total of 675B calories coming from the candy.
3. We can then divide the 675B calories by 3,500 which gives us ~190M pounds gained by people in the US.

Initially, that may seem high, but if we consider the fact that there are ~320M people in the US that is just over half a pound per person which seems reasonable.


Ram November 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Total number of calories: 1trillion
Weight gain of American population:2.9million lb


Divya Shivakumar November 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Average candy price for this year is approximately $1.30 per pounce, which is $20.8 per pound. In today’s New York Times, you learned that in the weeks leading up to this holiday, Americans purchased $2.7 BILLION dollars in candy. That means 48,076, 923 pounds of candy was bought. It is estimated 535 calories for every 100 gram of candy. So we are looking at 218,072,115 calories of candies. Assuming 3,500 calories consumed results in a person gaining 1 lb (0.45 kg) in weight, and also assuming that american population consumed all the candies bought this year, we are expecting the american population to gain approximately 62,306 lbs (~28,038 kgs) in weight.


Kevin N November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

385,000,000 lbs.


Santanu Sarkar November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

“A $10 bag od candy consists of 100 candys
(https://www.walmart.com/ip/Nestle-Assorted-Miniatures-Candy-Bars-40-oz/25120554) ”

Candy Calorie Data
Max Calorie per candy 872
Min Calorie per candy 23
Average Calorie per candy 97.99687825
STD Dev of data 165.9215516

Candy’s are distributed equally in 6 groups
Calories Candy Count Total Cal

23 45000000 1035000000
188.9215516 45000000 8501469823
354.8431032 45000000 15967939645
520.7646548 45000000 23434409468
686.6862065 45000000 30900879291
852.6077581 45000000 38367349113
Total Calorie 1.18207E+11

Weight Gain per 3500 cal 1 lb
Total Weight gained = (1.18207E+11 / 3500) = 33,773,442.1 lbs (Approx: 33 million lbs)


David Roth November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Each person would gain between 8-10 pounds.


Charlotte Hutchins November 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Assume an average price of $2 per pack of 10 candies, each candy containing 200cal.

$2.7 billion/2 = 1.35 billion pack sold.

1.35 billion packs x 10 candies = 13.5 billion candies.

13.5 billion candies x 200 calories = 2700 billion calories.

2700 billion/3500 = (approximately) 0.8 billion lb.

Therefore the American population gained 800million lb this Halloween!


Rubin Srimal November 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm

1,399,680,000 points


Ram_rev November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Total number of calories: 1trillion
Weight gain of American population:285million lb


Alex C November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

What we’ve known:
3500 calories = 1 lb weight gain
$2.7 billion spent

Average candy bar calories: 5540 cal per bag of mini snickers ($11)
Average candy calories: 1400 cal assorted candy ($14)
a 50/50 mix of candies and candy bars bought and consumed

($1.35 bil / $11 ) * 5540 + ($1.35 bil / $14 ) * 1400
PS: Round down to $10 and round up to $15

Calories = 135 mil * 5540 + 90 mil * 1400
Calories = 150 mil * 5000 + 126000 mil cal
Calories = 750 000 mil + 126 000 mil
Calories = 876 000 mil cal

Total weight gain = ( 876 000 / 3500 ) mil
Total weight gain = Roughly 250 mil lbs


Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Hi Victor,

My assumptions:
It costs $5 per 1 bag of 25 candies
1 candy = 200 calories
Resulting in potentially 7.1 million pounds gained. However, as most Halloween candy is not consumed, I would estimate this value at half — 3.5 million pounds gained.


Bilal November 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Approximately 60 million pounds in total.


Jeff Reuter November 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm

94,537,815 pounds


Jason Trammell November 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm

roughly 308M lbs the American population will gain as a result of the Halloween candy, or roughly 1 lb per person in the United States.

100 calories/candy


Nikhil Desai November 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Assuming one candy pack to be costing US$2.7 effectively resulting in 1 bn packs of candy being sold with an average of 25 candies in each pack, population will approximately gain a 178 million pounds collectively (again assuming 70% of the population consumes or can consume candy) at an average 25 calories per candy


Miguel Marin Querol November 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Assuming that each candy piece costs a quarter dollar ($0.25), those $2.7 Bn would equal 10.8 Bn pieces of candy. Reese’s cups have an estimated amount of 250 cal per piece (‘serving’), so if we assume that as an average of cals/piece, we multiply times pieces and we get 2700 Bn calories. Divide by 3500 cal/lb and we get an overall weight gain of 0.77 Bn lbs, which is equal to 2.41lbs/capita if the US population is around 320 million


Edwin Yu November 1, 2016 at 12:17 pm

A candy bar costs about 40 cents and has about 200 calories. This translates to 500 calories per dollar spent.

2.7 billion dollars spent means there are 1.35 trillion calories.

If consuming 3,500 calories results in a person gaining 1 pound, then the American population will gain approximately 386 million pounds (or 175 million kg). With a population of 330 million, this means on average every American gains 1.17 pound.


Marianna November 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

The current population of the United States of America is 324,904,135 as of Tuesday, November 1, 2016, based on the latest United Nations estimates. 324,904,135 *0.45 = 146,206,860.75 kg in total


Sheng Song November 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Assuming average calories per dollar among all kinds of candy is 320 cal/$, according to Hershey dark chocolate’s specification and price. So, 320 * 2.7 * 1000,000,000/3500= 246857142 lbs. which is the total weight gain if all the candy of 2.6B has been consumed in a day, without considering the simultaneous consumption of calories by our body. This seems a lot heavy weight, but if we average it into our USA population (324,897,733 as of October 2016), it is only 0.76lb gain for each people living in USA. But this would never happen, so don’t be fool think you will only gain less than 1 pound after eating a full basket of Hersheys.


Cristina November 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

If average candy bar price is $1.30, then Americans purchased around 2B pieces of candy ($2.7B / $1.30). If then average number of calories per candy bar is ~250 kcal, then Americans purchased in total 520 trillion in calories. If we divide it by 3500kcal (the number needed to gain 0.45kg) and multiply by 0.45 kg, we learn that in total, Americans will gain 66 million kg in weight. If there are approx. 323 730 000 Americans, then if everyone eats a fair portion of the candy, each American will gain approx. 0.2kg in weight after Halloween.


Leo Bekerman November 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Hi Victor,

In order to estimate the total number of pounds the population will gain from $2.7B lbs of candy, we’ll assume that the vast majority of this candy is sold in the form of fun-size bags. Each fun-size bag sells for about $5 and contains 1 lb of candy. Thus, there were about 540M fun-size bags sold for Halloween.

Fun-size bags come in many varieties but generally, they tend to be chocolate candies and each chocolate candy is 40-80 calories each, so we’ll assume 60 calories each on average. A typical candy (for example, snicker’s fun-size) might weigh perhaps 1/10 of a lb, so there are 10 in each bag. Thus, each bag is 600 calories each.

Therefore, the total number of calories consumed is 600 * 540M = 324B. There are ~3,500 calories in a pound, so therefore the number of pounds would be ~92.5M. This number is an underestimate when compared to the US population of ~320M, suggesting ~.3 lbs/person. However, this weight gain probably disproportionately affects kids and candy lovers.


Alexandre Fraletti November 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

308,571,428 LB


gaurav khurana November 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

avg calories per candy 200 (assumption)
avg cost per candy 1.14 (assumption)

Total spend on candies 2,700,000,000.00

total no of candies 2,368,421,052.63

Total calories 11,842,105.26

3500 calories 1 ib
weight gained from 11842105 calries 3,383.46 lb


Michael Yu November 1, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Assume $1 of candy = 250 calories
250 calories/dollar x $2,700,000 = 675,000,000 calories

Given 3,500 calories = 1 lb of weight gain, then Americans will gain a total of 192,857,142.86 lbs (675,000,000/3,500).

Bonus: Assume American population is 300,000,000 then each American will gain approximately .643 lbs (192,857,142.86/300,000,000).


Albert Pastor November 1, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Hi Victor,

I will do it in a quite simple way. I am estimating that the majority of the candy sales come from snickers/mars/twix bars that I estimate to be sold in 10-unit packs of 100 calories/unit and at a price of $2 per pack. I am not from the US so I might be wrong on that.

This would lead me to a 1.35bn of packs sold, a 13.5bn candys sold and a total of 1350 bn calories (actually I’d say it’s kcal).

In terms of weight gain, Halloween would result on a 386m pounds gain that will add up to the weight gain during Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!

Have a great day!


Vladimir Popov November 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm

I worked with what I had handy. There were three bags of candy at my work that people brought from last night. I averaged calories per bag, and assumed the prices of the bags.
$12 Bag 1 = 530 cal in 7 pieces = at 95 pieces/bag = 7200 cal/bag
$11 Bag2 = 560 cal in 7 pieces = at 60 pieces/bag = 4800 cal/bag
$10Bag3= 680 cal in 15 pieces= at 100 pieces/bag= 4500 cal/bag
Avg Bag = $11 Avg cal/bag = 5500 cal

$2.7B /$11bag=250M bags sold at 5500 cal/bag = 1,375×10^9 cal

divided by 3500 cal/lb = ~400M lbs

and Im off to run on the treadmill now 🙂

Happy Halloween!


Ujjwal Garg November 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm

347,142.86 kilograms


Shiyao Wang November 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Estimtate price a piece of candy: $ 0.3 (since your kid bought 160 pieces each and it would cost $ 48 for each kid as a reasonable budget);
Total actual spent on candy (tax excluded): $ 2.7B*0.66=$ 1.78B;
Total pieces of candy sold: $1.78B/$0.3=5.94B pieces candy;
Estimated total number of population buying candy: 0.3B(US population) *40%=0.12B;
Pieces/person: 5.94B/0.12B=49.5 pieces;
Each piece has calaries: ~ 1000;
Total calaries comsumed: 49500
Estimtated weight gained: 49500/3500 = 14 lb
Total weight gained for American population gained: 14* 0.12B=1.68B lb


Roman Kulikov November 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

The total number of calories: 222 227 673 525
The total number of pounds gained:
63 493 621


Girish November 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

385,714,285 Lb


Jigar November 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm

HI Victor

Based on data given and some assumptions, my estimates is that Americans will gain 36m kg of weight.
Assumption is that one candy will cost 1$, and will give approx 100 calories. Which means 2.7 billion candies bought generating 2.7 trillion calories. And it takes approx 7500 calories to gain one kg so 2.7 trillion calories will give 36m kg weight?


Gennie Lin November 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Assumed $.50/candy and 50 calories/candy, that’s a total weight gain of 77 million pounds!


Dimitrios Lekkakis November 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

1 trillion kcal consumed

140 million kg gained


Alec November 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm

300 million pounds


Paolo November 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Assuming that a candy bar (snickers) is 100 grams and has 522 calories.
Assuming a candy bar costs USD1
Should be USD2.7billion multiplied by 100grams x 522 ca /3,500 ca = 402 million lbs


sam November 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

The average full sized candy bar is capped at 220 calories per serving. I am going to assume that each piece of candy is on average 1 serving (some full sized candy have 1 serving, some have 4 servings, most full sized candy pieces, I notice, have 2 servings. Let’s also assume that most people buy mini candy pieces to increase amount of candy given out for a particular dollar price).

The average bag of assorted mini halloween candy costs $8, and has about 50 pieces. Let’s round the price to $10 (taxes etc)

$2.7 billion in candy comes out to 270 million bags of candy, which is ~15 billion servings of candy, which is ~ 3300 billion calories, which is ~ a billion pounds in weight ingested.

US population ~ 300 million. weight gained per person = something over 3 pounds.

Reasonableness test –
Is it possible to gain over 3 pounds in a week’s worth of candy consumption, especially since candy is mostly sugar (about 19 gms of sugar per serving), which is metabolized and stored as white fat if not used immediately? I would agree.

That reminds me, I need to do some cardio.


Sergey November 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Hi Victor,

Here is my estimation approach:

As we need to convert candy spend into pounds of weight gain I will use the following formula: $2.7B candy spend / avg. price per one candy x avg. calories per candy / 3,500 calories per one pound of weight gain = weight that American population will gain in pounds.

Here is my estimation for unknown inputs:
1. Avg. price per one candy = usually around $1 per candy (e.g., Kit Kat bar of 50 gram) – one of the most popular.
2. Avg. calories per candy = usually I see around 100-300 calories for average candy, I will go with midpoint of 200 calories per candy.

By inputting numbers in formula I get approx. 150M pounds which is slightly below 0.5 pound per person (Assuming 330M US population). This number appears reasonable to me.

Still, there are other factors that could undermine calculation such as (1) there might be different correlation between candy price per calorie – e.g., non-chocolate (2) by eating candy we may substitute other food that also gain calories, (3) we may exercise more to reduce weight gain impact. Therefore, this weight gain is subject to other assumptions and may not reside in the American population in the mid-term.

Kind regards,


Uday Tamma November 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm

540B calories in $2.7B candy and US population will gain 155M lbs weight.

Back of the envelope calc’s:
Assuming $9/lbs, $2.7B will yield 300M lbs of candy. About 135M kgs.
Assuming 50g per candy, 135M Kgs will yield about 2.7B candies.
Assuming 200 cals per 50g candy, 2.7B candies will yield 540B calories.
At 3500 cal per lb, 540B cals will result in about 155M lbs of weight.
Assuming US population of 310M, each person would increase in weight of about 0.50 lbs.


Santiago Medina November 1, 2016 at 12:28 pm

500 Calories per 100gr of candy.
$1 USD per 100gr of candy.
3500 cal is equivalent of gaining 1 lb of weight on earth.
75% of the population eat candy.
320 millions is the US Population
240 millions of people eat candy.
1350 billions of calories
385 millions (lb) of gained weight.
1.6 lb is the weight that each person will gain on Earth.


Bao November 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Base on the average price of a candy bar (I take the number from a article by google) is $1.3 . The total sale in this day is 2.7 BILLION.
In average a candy bar have 1000000 Joules, 1 calo = 4.184 Joules,
First: The amount of candy bar that American population will consume: 2,700,000,000/1.3= (bars)
So the total pounds of weight the American population will gain is:
2076923076.92*1000000/4.181/3500= 141929345469 (pound)


Alex Gorman November 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm

$2,700,000,000 dollars total
x $27 dolllars per bag
= 100,000,000 bags

40 calories per piece
x 200 pieces per bag
= 8000 calories per bag

100,000,000 bags
x 8000 calories per bag
= 800,000,000,000 calories total

800,000,000,000 calories total
÷ 3500 calories per lb gained
approx = 230,000,000 lbs gained total


Alex Gorman November 1, 2016 at 12:31 pm

should be a ÷ sign on the first calculation of dollars total/dollars per bag.


Yumi He November 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm

estimated American population will gained 30,857,000 lb.


Anthony S Riseley November 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm

I calculated approximately 12 lbs (or ~5.42 kgs) of weight should be gained per American based on an estimation that the average calorie intake of a chocolate bar being ~500 calories and costing ~$1 each.

As a side note, for this to actually occur all Americans would have to consume all the calories in one sitting without any calories being burnt off.


Jorge Silva November 1, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Well, I’m not an American and unfortunately haven’t experienced a traditional American Halloween , but here we go:

Total weight gained by American Population = Total amount spent in candies (USD bn) x Avrg candy cost (USD/unit) x Avrg candy calories (cal/unit) / 1 kg (3,5k cal/ 1 kg) – which leave us with the weight gained in kilograms.

1) USD 2.7 bn spent on candies;
2) Considering the average candy gathering of chocolates, sweeties and others, I came up that an avrg. candy should cost 50 cents, weight 0,1 pound and have 100 cal;
3) So USD 2.7 bn should buy 5.4 bn candies;
4) Not all candy bought goes to the kids’ basket – some of it just is leftover -, so lets consider 5/6 (16,7%) of all candies bought go to the kids and that their parents, such you Victor, charge 1/3 of their earnings. It means that only 50% of all candies are indeed consumed – considering that the parents do not consume it either;
5) It leaves us 2.7 bn candies, or 270 bn calories consumed;
6) It represents 77 m kg gained by American Population or yet 0,4 kg per American (considering US population of 300 M);
7) Well, I’m glad to have not gained none of this weight; and
8) a) I would be very happy to be a dentist in US during the Halloween time; or
b) I’d force my children to brush their teeth very hard! : )



DM November 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm

1. Average item of candy costs 25 cents
2. Average item of candy contains 50 calories
3. USA population is 320 million people

Step 1:
Total items of candy = total spent on candy / average cost per item of candy
Total items of candy = $2.7billion / $0.25 = 10.8billion candies

Step 2:
Total calories = total items of candy * average calories per candy
Total calories = 10.8billion * 50 = 540billion calories

Step 3:
Total weight gained in pounds = total calories / calories per pound
Total weight gained in pounds = 540billion / 3500 = approximately 15million pounds

Bonus step 4:
Average weight gained per person = total weight gained / total population
Average weight gained per person = 15 million pounds / 320 million people = approximately 0.5 pounds per person!

Synthesis: I am mildly concerned for the health of the US population if people are gaining an average of 0.5 pounds from Halloween candy consumption. Further analysis is needed, however, to determine if the US population also increases their physical activity on average around Halloween to counter the estimated weight gain.


Carlos November 1, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Hi victor,

My estimate is the following:

I assume that 1 sweet costs about 0,1$ by average.
So 2.7 B$ are 27 Billion of sweets.
I also assume that 1 sweet provides 5 calories by average.
That is 135 Billion calories that will be consumed.
With the assumption that 3.5 Kcal contribute with 1 lb in weight, these all sweets will produce about 40 Million of lbs.
About 13 Million lbs in adults and 27 Million lbs for kids.



Wesley November 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm

160 million pounds


Paul Yu November 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Hi Vincent,

Americans purchase $2.7B in Candy – assuming population of 319M – each person in the US bought $8.5 worth of candy. Calories from processed sugar is quite cheap. So assuming $1 equals to 1,000 calories, $8.5 will give each person in the US 8,500 calories. From that number each American will gain roughly 2.4 x 0.45kg or around 1.1kg in weight. Multiplying that by the population number again, American will be adding 1.1 x 319M kg or around 351,000 tonnes of extra weight before the end of November.



Glenn Cohen November 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Estimating each piece of candy costs a little over 9 cents and contains about 60 calories, the US population will gain about 475,701,071 pounds for Halloween. Happy eating.


John C. November 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

The average price of candy in the US is $0.50/oz.
$2.7 billion / ($0.50/oz) = 5.4 billion ounces of candy.

Let’s assume that the most popular candy is milk chocolate. 1 cup of milk chocolate (168 g) is 899 calories. 1 oz = 28.35 g. If each bar is 168 g, then we can estimate that each is (168/28.35) ~ 5.6 oz (rounding each up, 170/30 is 5.6).

5.4 billion oz of candy/5.6 oz is (rounding down) ~ 1 billion chocolate bars.

1 billion chocolate bars * (rounding up) 900 cal = 900 billion calories.

900 billion calories/(3500 cal/lb of weight gain) is (rounding down) ~200 million pounds of weight gain.


Sid Nasnodkar November 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Firstly, we need to estimate the total number of candies one can buy with $2.7B.

One can buy Regular, Semi-Premium or Premium candies. Since this is halloween and most candies will be given away, we can assume most candies given away are regular. Safe to assume 70% regular, 20% semi-premium and 10% premium.

A typical packet of 30-40 regular candies could cost around $3-$4. Hence each regular candy is priced at $0.1 . Similarly, we assume each semi-premium candy is priced at $0.3 and each premium candy at $0.5

Using above distribution, total number of candies sold is ‘x’

Then, 70%*$0.1*x + 20%*$0.3*x + 10%*$0.5*x = $2.7B
This gives total number of candies sold = 15B

These candies can be categorized into low, medium and high calorie. Assuming typical candy has about 15 calories. Safe to say 70% candies are medium – 15 calories
20% candies are high – 25 calories
5% candies are low – 5 calories

This means, total calories represented by $2.7B candies is:
(0.7*15 + 0.2*25 + 0.05*5) * 15B = 240B calories

Total weight gained using 240B calories is 240B/3500 pounds
= approximately 68M pounds gained by total US population

Assuming US population of 320M, each person gains 0.21 pounds


Anastasia Moshkina November 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy (estimate):
785,884,956,186 calories (785.9 billion).

Kilograms of weight the American population will gain:
101,042,352 kg

Thanks for this fun task!


Mit Patel November 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm

$2.7 billion in candy
$10 = 2.2 lb bag of candy (1 kg)
1 serving size = 50 g = 200 calories
3500 cal = 1 lb weight gain

The American Population will gain 771,429 pounds from consuming 270,000 kilograms of candy for which they spent over $2.7 million dollars.



Ora Visuri November 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm

here is my solution

lets assume the candy price to be about 10 USD/KG
and it contains in average 3500kcal/kg of candy (pure sugar is about 4000kcl/kg) Thou chocolate is more, about 5000kcl/kg

Then we’ll get the 2,7billion devided by 10 = 270M kg
if we use the average 3500kcal ==> one pound gained
the US will gain 270M pounds.

Then if there is a lot of chocolate in those candies the average energy contain wil be higher, well say 4050 kcal/kg (1,1 times 3500) or 4400 kcal/kg (1.2 times)

Then we’ll get the america to gain 1,1 times 270 M pounds
= about 297m pounds
and 1,2 times 270M pounds = 324M pounds


Moose O'Donnell November 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Figure I bought candy for about $0.10 / piece in a big bag… a Snickers bar is roughly 100 calories, but there are some folks who give a couple of Starburst or SweetTarts, so figure 70 calories in the average candy. That gives about 190 Billion calories which would result in a gain of about~550 Million pounds. Or about the same weight as 2 million market pigs.


Jiani November 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

estimated calories: 540 billion calories
estimated weight gain: 154 million pound


Doris Gazic November 1, 2016 at 12:45 pm

The American population will gain 77.318.181,82 kg.


Gokul November 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm

$5 Average price per box of candies.
Average 300 Calories/box

Number of boxes purchased: $2.7B/$5 = 540M
Total number of calories = 300X540M = 162B
If 3500 calories increase weight by 1lb, 162B calories increase about 45M lbs.


Melissa November 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm

We can consider a bar of chocolate that costs $1, having 500 calories.
This means that for every 7 bars of chocolate that a person eats, she gains 1lb.
$2.7 billion in candy = 2.7 billion bars of chocolate ~ 400 mi lb gained in the total American population, or an average of 1.25 lb per person (considering the American population as 320 million people)


Himanshu November 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Step 1: Calculation of the number of calories in $2.7 billion candy

Assuming an average candy costs $1.35 and has 80 calories,

Total number of calories in $2.7 billion candy
= 2.7 billion/1.35 x 80 calories
= 160 billion calories

Step 2: Total pounds gained by the entire American population

Lets assume that all candies are consumed by Americans and none are wasted or remain unconsumed

Total pounds gained
= 160 billion calories x 1 pound / 3,500 calories
= 46 million pounds

Step 3: Validation
To validate, we estimate the pounds gained per child.

Assuming that out of a total population of 300 million 25% consume these candies, 75 million would have consumed these candies.

Therefore, the weight gained per consumer
= 46 million pounds/ 75 million
= 0.6 pounds

Which means an average consumer of candy, would gain 0.6 pounds

Sounds within a ballpark!

FINAL ESTIMATE: The American population would collectively gain 46 million pounds due to candy.


Parth Vaswani November 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Based on data from the following source, the standard American Candy contains 4.75 calories per gram of candy.
Also, on an average, $1 would buy 25g of candy.
Now, most of the candy purchased would be in bulk, which would give households 10% off (Assumption)
Therefore, actual spend during Halloween in Candy = $2.7million/90*100 = $3million
Mass of candy bought by USA during Halloween = 25g/$*$3million = 75 million g
Amount of calories in candies bought during Halloween = 75 million g * 4.75 calorie/gram = 356.25 million calories
Total weight gained during Halloween = 356.25 million calories*0.45kg/3500calories = 45,803.5 Kg
Population of USA = 324 million
Assumption: Each individual in America consumes equal amount of this candy bought during Halloween. Further, no activity that involves collection of candies and burning of calories simultaneously is to be considered significant here. Also, no of US residents = US population, i.e., we neglect refugees, people working abroad etc.
Thus, Weight gained by the US population due to Halloween candy = 1.41 * 10^-4 Kg = 1.41 g

Ans.: 1.41g


Parth Vaswani November 1, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Please note that the final weight calculation is per individual. The aggregate weight gained is 45,803.5 Kg or 101,785.5 lbs


Chris B November 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Total Number of Calories: 1.35 Trillion

Average pound gained by an American : 1 lb.


Michael G November 3, 2016 at 11:01 pm

I agree with Chris B’s estimate. Here is why:

#0 $2700000000 of candies purchased
#1 Most people buy halloween candy in bulk
#2 Walmart has reasonable average prices for candy
#3 Halloween candy evenly split between hard candies and chocolates
#4 Halloween candies deliver and average of 502 calories / dollar (Based on a study of 8 popular brands evenly split between hard candies and chocolates. See data below for details.)


$2.7B candy sales * 502 calories per dollar = 1.3 Trillion Calories

1.35 trillion calories / 3500 calories per pound = 387 Million pounds

387 million pounds / 318.9 million = 1.2 pounds / person

Supporting Data:

KitKat $9.99 per bag 505 calories / $
Spangler Dum Dum Pops, 300ct $10.51 per bag 561 calories / $
Snickers: Halloween Minis Mix Chocolate, 40 oz $10.19 per bag 534 calories / $
Life Savers 5 Flavors Hard Candy Bag, 41 ounce $14.92 per bag 310 calories / $
Twix Minis Cookie Bar Halloween Candies, 40 oz $9.94 per bag 558 calories / $
Werther’s Original Gusset Bag, 34 oz $9.95 per bag 422 calories / $
Hershey’s Chocolate Miniatures Assortment, 19.75 Oz $5.56 per bag 491 calories / $
Starburst Original Fruit Chews Candy Bag, 41 ounce $7.33 per bag 633 calories / $


Will November 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm

My guess is 400,000,000 pounds (2.7 billion in sales / ~3 dollar cost per bag of halloween candy * ~1600 calories per bag / 3,500 calories per pound) – this however doesnt take into account all the walking you do on halloween which probably burns about ~500 calories per hour walked or how different metabolisms react to calorie loads (kids vs adults)


Bob Kang November 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Total Calories:
1. $10 for 50 pack of candy
2. $2.7 billion = 270 million packs of candy = 13.5 billion pieces
3. 200 calories per piece of candy
4. 13.5 billion pieces x 200 calories = 2.7 trillion calories ~ 3 trillion calories

Total Pounds
1. 3 trillion calories / 3500 calories per pound = 800~850 million pounds


Muneeb November 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

According to wiki, the most popular candy brand in the US is M&Ms. The average M&M packet containing 19.2 oz of candy is priced at circa $5. Each packet packs about 220 calories.

Now, assuming that the 19.2 oz weighing M&M packet reasonably represents the other candy bought (due to its small packaging that can be distributed to lots of kids), if the US population spent $2.7 Billion on candy this Halloween, that equates to about 540 Million M&M bags. Which contain approx. 118 Billion calories.

Americans gained about 33.9 Million LBs (about 15.3 Million KGs) of weight this Halloween, give or take (= / -) 10%.


Giuseppe Scozzaro November 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

-around 320 mln people in US
-2700 mln US dollars spent for candies

Assume that a candy of 150 calories costs about 0,5$ in average.

So we have 2700 $mln in total over 0,5$ for each candy, equal 5400 mln candies. Consider each has in avg 150 calories, it results into 810 bln calories.

Thus 810 bln calories can be translated into around 231 mlh lb (around 104 mln Kg) of weight gain for US population

This means each US person, in avg., gains around 0,72 lb (around 0,32 Kg)


David Choi November 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm

There are 2 numbers we are trying to get to here:
Total Pounds Gained by Americans & Total Calories Represented by $2.7B in Candy.

Overall Equation=
(Total Purchased/Average Cost Per Pound)*(Factor for Lollipop Sticks, Wrappers and etc.)= Total Pounds Consumed =
Total pounds Gained by Americans (Reasoning: Since Total Pounds of Candy Consumed was made equal to the Total Pounds Gained.)
is estimated to be ~1.775B lbs of weight gained
Total # of Calories Consumed=
~1.775B *3500 Calories = ~6.213 Trillion

Here are the numbers behind how I came up with that estimate:
Since we already have the total purchased amount($2.7B USD), we need to come up with a number for the Average Cost Per Pound of Candy. For that, I have used the following estimation model:
5 lb bags have an avg Cost per pound (CPP) of
3 lb bags have an Avg CPP of:
1 lb bags have an Avg CPP of:
Candy Bars (Assuming avg wt of 6.4 oz or .4 lbs) have an Avg CPP of:
(Reasoning: On average, retailers tend to provide a better value for bulk purchases.)

Assuming a purchase distribution by weight of 5 lbs=50%, 3 lbs=30%, 1 lbs=15%, Candy Bars=5% (Reasoning: Large bag purchases are not only more common for a household, but it also weighs more creating an uneven distribution.)

Overall Avg CPP =

Total Purchased/Avg CPP=
~1.793B lbs of weight gained

(Factor for waste) (Reasoning: Assuming that 1% of the net weight is wrappers, lollipop sticks and etc.)
~1.793B *99%=~1.775B lbs of weight gained

Total # of Calories Consumed=
~1.775B *3500 Calories = ~6.213 Trillion


David Choi November 1, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Need to factor all of the above numbers by 3/9 & 4/9.
Caloric density per gram of sugar is 4 kcal per gram.
Caloric density per gram of fat is 9 kcal per gram.
Obviously, candy won’t be PURE sugar, so we will take a low-end estimate of 3 and a high end of 4.
The range of total Calories consumed =
2.071 Trillion – 2.761 Trillion
(3/9 * 6.213) – (4/9 *6.213)

The range of weight gained:
591.7M – 788.9M
(2.071T/3500) – (2.761T/3500)


Matt November 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Question: How many pounds will the American population gain if they consume $2.7 Billion in candy?

Given: 3,500 Calories = 1 Pound

There are two main types of Candy:

1. A “Fun Size” candy bar (e.g., Snickers, Mars, Kit Kat, Almond Joy) consists of about 80 calories, and there are about 30 “Fun Size” bars in a 1 Pound Bag. This equates to 2,400 Calories per 1 Pound Bag of Candy Bars.

2. One serving of hard candy (e.g., 3 Jolly Ranchers, One Twizzler, 3 Starbursts) consists of about 50 calories, and there are about 20 servings in a 1 Pound Bag. This equates to 1,000 Calories per 1 Point Bag of Hard Candy.

I assume 2/3 of Americas Halloween sweets are candy bars and 1/3 are hard candy, so $1.8 B and $0.9 B.

An 1 Pound Bag of Fun size Candy Bars retails for $4.
$1.8 B / $4 = 450 Million 1 Pound Bags
$450 Million Bags x 2,400 Calories/Bag = 1.08 E 12 Calories
1.08E12 Calories / 3,500 Calories = 309,000,000 Pounds

An 1 Pound Bag of Hard Candy retails for $3.
$0.9 B / $3 = $300 Million 1 Pound Bags
$300 Million Bags x 1,000 Calories/Bag = 3 E 11 Calories
3E11 Calories / 3,500 Calories = 86,000,000 Pounds

Americans will gain 309 Million Pounds from Candy Bars and 86 Million Pounds from Hard Candy, equating to a total of 395 Million Pounds.


Gokul November 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Correction to the previous entry:
$5 Average price per box of candies.
Average 250 calories/serving
Average 8 servings/box
Calories per b0x = 2k Claories

Number of boxes purchased: $2.7B/$5 = 540M
Total number of calories = 2kX540M = 1T approximately
If 3500 calories increase weight by 1lb, 162B calories increase about 1T/3500 = 290M lbs


Sanket November 1, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Answer: Total American population will gain a total weight of 54 million pounds (lbs)**

1. American population=270 million
2. $2 price per candy
3. 1 candy=140 calories

$2.7 billion candy purchased by 270 million people=2.7billion/270million=$10 candy per person

$2 price per candy=10/2=5 candies consumed per person

Total calories consumed per person=140×5=700 calories

Total weight gained by 700 calories=1/(700/3500)=0.2 lbs per person

Weight gained by total American population=0.2 lbs x 270 million=54 million pounds.

**Caveat=Needed to conduct market research study 😉 about average calories consumed and burnt by an average American for a more accurate estimate of the total weight gained by the American population


Andrew Asnes November 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Candy Consumption in US around Halloween

Candy Purchases $2,700,000,000
Average price of 2lbs candy $10
Number of pounds purchased 135,000,000 ($2.7B/$10)
Calories per pound of candy 2200 (source: google)
Calories consumed by US 297,000,000,000 (123M x 2200)
Calories consumed to gain 1lb 3500 (given)
Total Lbs gained by US population 84,857,143 (297B/3500)
US population 325,000,000 (US Census Clock)
Lbs gained per person 0.26 (Total lbs/US pop)

Additional estimation:
% of population that eats Halloweeen candy
ages 5-19 65,000,000 – assuming 20% of population
Parents of children 117,000,000 assuming 1.8 per child
Total candy eaters on Halloween 182,000,000
Pounds gained per candy eating population 0.47


Jun Tomida November 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

$2.4B / $1.2 per candy * 0.45kg per 3,500 cal * 520 cal per candy = ~133.7M kg = 133,700 ton


Henry Heintz November 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm

2.05 trillion calories = 585 million pounds (about 1.8 lbs / American!)


NEHA AGGARWAL November 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Picking the clue from my first ever Halloween purchase of some delicious chocolates in France recently, 3kg of chocolates cost about 10 euros during the festive discounts of Halloween.
Since the currencies of US and Europe are nearly comparable in terms of the PPP, hence assuming the same cost estimate for United states Halloween season festive discount sales as well.

With each kg containing about 30 pieces of chocolates, this makes 90 pieces of such chocolates in 10 euros. Calculating the number of pieces in $ 2.7 billion , it comes around 21.87 billion pieces. Knowing that 100 grams of 50 % cocoa (which is a fair percentage assumption for the population lot we are estimating for) chocolate contains 500 calories, Assuming each piece of chocolate (approximately 30 grams) would contain approximately 150 calories, therefore, 21.87 billion pieces amounts to a tremendous number of 3300 billion calories.

Using the given fact that 3500 calories leads to a weight increase of 0.45 kgs, hence, 3300 billion calories would result in a 424.2 million kgs increase in the US population.


Leo November 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm

– Total spend on candy = $2.7b
– 3,500 Calories = Increase in weight by 1lb

Assumption: (Case in point: Hershey’s Kisses Holiday Candy Cane Milk Chocolate)
– 80gm of Candy = $3.51 = 400 calories

If 3,500 calories add 1lb of weight, we will need approx 9 packs of the above candy to add 1lb of weight, which would cost approx. $31.5, say $30 (+5%)

If every $30 spent on candy adds 1lb of weight, a spend of $2.7b will add approximately 90m lb in weight. So for on $31.5 per candy, 90m lb (-5%) = c.85.7m lb

Hence, we can estimate that a spend of $2.7b on candy will lead to a weight gain of 85.7m lb.


Kalyan Pentapalli November 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm

675M lbs


Manju rao November 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

About 460,000,000 kgs or 926,000,000 lbs


ganesh venkatraman November 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

347143 kilograms


Nabeel Siddiqui November 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Based on the premise that 1 kid collected, 150 candies (with 100 cal per candy), and assuming a bag of 150 candies costs $10.

$10 represent 15,000 calories (15 KCal), The total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion is 6000 billion

Assuming 3,500 calories consumed results in a person gaining 1 lb (0.45 kg) in weight, American population will gain 1.75 billion pounds (or ~600 pounds per person, assuming a population of 300 million)


juan Mojica November 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Let’s assume most of the candy bought for Halloween is “Fun Sized” which have about 90 calories and you can buy a bag of 150 for about $30 or about $0.20 ! piece, that means that $2.7B bought 13.5B Fun size candy bars which account for 1.215 trillion calories. Which translates into 347 million pounds gained. IF distributed equally among the population it means that the average American will gain roughly more than a pound (1.08) in average.


Will Fraker November 1, 2016 at 1:06 pm

4.5 pounds
Based in 300,000,000 Americans, 175 calories per fun size piece of candy, 50 pieces per bag, $5 per bag.


Liam Grue November 1, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Fun question, Victor!

Let’s jump right in.

It’s a been a few years since my trick-or-treating days came to an end, but I recall there being two distinctly different types of houses. There were the stingy (read: responsible) folks that handed out the mini “”fun sized”” packages, and there were those that doled out sweets the way they were meant to be enjoyed, full-size, like you’d see in the checkout aisle of your local grocery store. Looking back, my hypothesis is that the cost-to-calorie ratio that these two household “”segments”” bought candy at would surely be different. Let’s take a closer look.

First, the “”stingy”” household segment:

– Nestle Assorted Mini Candy Bars (50 ct.): $8.97 for 2,525 cals
– Maynards Assorted Candy Treats (70 ct.): $11.97 for 3,115 cals
– Cadbury Mini Bars (100 ct.): $13.97 for 4,500 cals
– Hershey’s Assorted Candy Bars (50 ct.): $9.48 for 1,923 cals
– Mars Assorted Fun Size (50): $7.97 for 3,189 cals

I’m on my lunch break so I’m not going to research the market shares of these companies (which would allow us to weight these different costs for a more accurate estimate), but this gives us a cost of $3.59 per thousand calories.

But let’s not forget those amazing folks who handed out the full-sized candy bars! We’ll call them the “”generous”” household segment. I repeated the same very boring analysis on both the 4-packs and single portions of regular-sized Mars, Twix, Oh Henry!, and Skittles, then averaged them. We end up with a different cost at this larger portion size: $3.18 per thousand calories.

Who would’ve guessed! Buying your Halloween candy in bulk doesn’t actually save you money on a per-calorie basis! Turns out the folks giving out full candy bars aren’t just generous, they’re penny-wise too!

Now I’m not sure about your neighborhood, but in mine, the “”stingy”” households were definitely in the majority. Let’s assume 75% of houses were giving out small packages, and the remaining 25% were delighting parents with jumbo-sized sugar highs.

75% * $3.59 + 25% * $3.18 gives us our weighted average cost per thousand calories: $3.49

This allows us to translate our figure of $2.7 billion worth of candy into just shy of 775 BILLION calories – candy that’s metaphorically going straight to the thighs of today’s youth (and those of their parents… *cough* Victor *cough*)

Or, more precisely, they’re going there at a rate of 3,500 calories per extra pound of flab…

Congratulations America! This Halloween, you’ve gained a collective 221 million pounds. That’s almost a full pound (0.95) for everyone under the age of 55. The optimist in me thinks maybe it’s a little less than that if the “”taxes”” imposed by parents like Victor are going into the garbage can and not down their gullets.

Still, that’s scarier than any group of clowns will ever be…


Annie November 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Assuming 4 pieces of candy cost 1 dollar, 1 piece of candy has 100 kcal.
American Population will gain = total sells *pieces per dollar*kcal per pieces/3,500kcal per pound
=2.7B*4*100/3,500 = about 308.6M lbs


Viswa November 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

372M pounds


Scarlett Ong November 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Hi Victor, thanks for the Sweet Estimation Question.

My estimation is that the American population will gain around 49 million lbs in total.

I calculated this by:
1. Estimating that the average price of a Halloween candy would be around $1.25.
2. Dividing $2.7 billion by $1.25 to find how many candies have been purchased (2.16 billion candies).
3. Estimating that the average calories of a Halloween candy would be around 80 calories.
4. Multiplying the estimated number of calories for each candy to the estimated number of candies purchased (80*2.16 billion = 172.8 billion calories)
5. Dividing estimated total number of calories by 3500 calories (172.8 billion/3500 = 49.3714285714 million lbs)


Adrian Savulescu November 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm

A chocolate bar usually has around 200 calories per 50g and can be between 0.69 cents to 1.29 or so. For simplification we’ll just say it’s around 1 dollar.

Hard candy usually follows the same nutritional profile i.e. 200 calories per 50g but is usually cheaper. Based on the image above, it appears at least half of the candy is of the chocolate variety whereas the other falls into the hard candy category.

As a ballpark estimate, let’s say the lower price/calories ratio for hard candy gets us to being able to purchase 300 calories of candy on average for 1 USD.

Then our estimates are as follows:

1)Total amount of calories that will be consumed by the American public = 2 700 000 000 * 300 = 81 000 000 000 calories

2) Total amount of calories consumed per US citizen = 81 000 000 000/318 900 000(US pop) = 2539.98 calories

3) Total amount of weight that each US citizen is likely to gain as a result of Halloween on average = 2539.98/3500 = 0.73 lbs


Jonathan Fan November 1, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Assume there are 320 Million people here in the United States
Assume that there are even number of people within each age group
Assume that everyone consumes on average the same amount of candy
Now we assume that each candy on average cost $.20, then $2.7 Billion dollars of candies will turn into 13.5 Billion of candies. Assume that each candy carries roughly 10 calories, that is a total of 135 Billion Calories.

Having all of this information, we now divide the total calories consumed by the American from candies (135B) by 3,500 Calories in order to estimate the total amount American will gain per kilogram through this holiday. With that division we will get 38.57 million or 40 million kilograms in total.

From a per person aspect, 40 million kilograms divided by the total U.S. population is 0.125. We can then conclude on our preliminary research that an average American gain about 0.125 Kg on Halloween!

Let me know what you think


Çınar Fidan November 1, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Hey Victor,

I am a senior industrial engineering student from Boğaziçi University, Turkey and I would like to share my estimation with you.

My estimation is ~173 million pounds.

Here’s my logic:
(Total Weight Gained)= (Number of Candies Sold)*(Average Weight Gain from one Candy)

Let’s break this down one level further:

(Total Weight Gained)= (Total $ Amount Spent/Average Price of a Candy)* (Average Amount of Calories a Pack of Candy Contains/Necessary Calorie Consumption to Gain 1 lb)

We are given;
Total Amount Spent: $2.7B
Necessary Calorie Consumption to Gain 1 lb: 3500 cal

In order to find “Average Price of a Candy” and “Average Amount of Calories a Candy Contains”, assuming Walmart can represent U.S. retail candy sales, I took Walmart’s online store as a proxy. Since it’s not possible to know the exact number of products they sold and the share of each particular product, I narrowed down my focus once more.

There is a list called “Best-Selling Chocolate” under Candy&Gum category. I noted down information from the Top 20 products. I collected price, weight, serving size and calories per serving information. Then my logic is as follows:

Average Price of a Candy:= Average of prices of Top 20 products

Average Amount of Calories a Pack of Candy Contains= Average Weight*( Calories per serving/ Serving size)

Average Price=~$11.2
Average Amount of Calories a Pack of Candy Contains= ~571g*(186cal/42.3g)=~2510cal

Coming back to my original equation, plug these figures in:

(Total Weight Gained)=($2.7B/$11.2)*(2510cal/3500 cal)=~173 million pounds

That number seems high, but if we divide it by the U.S. population of 320 million, on average, an American citizen gains around 0.54 pounds, approximately 250 grams. That seems reasonable.

Couple of issues:
1) Walmart may not represent U.S. retail candy sales. I am not really familiar with U.S. retail industry, but if Walmart is rather a discounter, then the average price of a candy may even be higher.

2) Top 20 products at Walmart may not represent total sales. Again, not familiar with U.S. candy consumption characteristics, if people are buying from candy shops rather than retail stores, those candy shops may have different prices and calorie content than those at retail stores.

3) We assumed that all calorie consumption realizes as weight gain. But due to Halloween, people may be also moving more than regular times; like decorating houses, walking from door to door, cleaning all around after kids fell asleep. Therefore net weight gain may be less than a pound from 3500 calories. It may mean we have overestimated.

I have my case interviews and midterm exams at the door, so I feel like I shouldn’t have been doing this. But overall, I think it was good practice for me. I hope, I’m close to your estimation!

Thanks Victor,


Marc Rullan November 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Hi Mr. Cheng,

My estimate is that each person between 5-40 years will gain about 4 lb. The assumption is based on looking at the price per calorie of some of the most popular candies, such as Nestle, Kitkat, Snickers and Reese’s peanut butter cups, among different vendors. This gives us an average of 400 kcal per dollar (600 for Walmart, 300 for Target and Amazon).
With this information we can compute the calories that the american population bought for Halloween, giving us 1000 billion calories. Finally, to get the weight gained by the american population we need to estimate who would be eating these sweets. If these sweets were consumed uniformly by everyone, each person would put on 1 additional lb, while if only kids ranging from 5-15 years of age ate them, they would gain 13 lb. My solution is a compromise between these two numbers, assuming that people aged between 5-40 years will eat the sweets.

Thank you for the fun problem!


Hemlata Jindal November 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm

27,771,430 kgs weight will be gained in total.


Peter Hanna November 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm

In order to break it down, we will have to make the following assumptions:
1. 40% of Halloween candy is typically cheap sugar infused treats that can be bought relatively cheap at almost 5 cents per piece. This includes lollipops, toffees, and plain old hard candy. These typically are the lowest in calorie intake, and average at about 25 calories/piece.
2. 30% of the candy can be classified as medium level treats, such as twizzlers, gobstoppers, jawbreakers etc. These are at a slightly higher price point and can go up to 10cents per piece. I would also average the caloric intake of these treats as 40 calories/piece.
3. The final 30% of the candy would be labelled the “premium” candy, which are the M&Ms, butter crunch, snickers, reese’s etc. These are definitely higher in caloric intake as well as price. The average calories would be more around 70 calories per piece, while coming in at a 20 cent per piece price point.

Assuming all the candy is consumed, we are looking at the following breakdown of 2.7 billion dollars:

Calories consumed = (0.4*2.7Billion/0.05)*25 +(0.3*2.7Billion/0.1)*40 + (o.3*2.7billion/0.2)*70 = 540Billion + 324Billion + 283.5 Billion = 1,147.5 Trillion calories

Calorie to Weight Conversion: 327,857,142 Lbs
This works out to roughly 1lb per person. However, to really measure weight gain, we must now make another assumption. We must assume that a portion of these calories were burned as energy and the remaining portion stored as fat. If we are to assume that people intake 40% more calories during Halloween than their necessary requirements then only 40% of those calories can be considered when calculating weight gain as the remainder will be burned s energy.

So in conclusion, the amount of weight gain would be close to:
131,143,000 lbs.



Jules November 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

– 1kg of candy costs on average $7.-
– 1kg of candy contains on average 4’800 calories (it should actually be kcal, not cal)
– all candy is consumed by someone in America
– 3’500 calories will result in weight gain of 1lb or 0.45kg

– total candy bought in kg = total sales / price per kg
– total # of calories = total candy in kg * average calorie content
– total weight gained = total # of calories / calories needed per kg of gain

– total candy in kg = $2,7bn / $7 per kg =~400 m kg = 400’000 tons
– total # calories = 400 M kg * 4’800 cal/kg = 1’920’000 M calories
– total weight gained = 1’920’000 M calories / 3’500 cal * 0.45 = ~250 M kg = 250’000 t

– The 400 M kg of candy will translate to 250 M kg weight gain (“a moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips’).
– American population around 320M people, so every American gains ~0.8kg during Halloween.

Happy Halloween! =)


Carina November 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Hi Victor,

Happy (belated) Halloween! I’ve been reading your blog and emails for a while now but this is my first time posting a comment. I’m still fairly new to the world of consulting cases so here goes:

Market Size
– American population = 320M people
– Assuming there are 5 age groups in the population (0 – 20, 21 – 40, 41 – 60, 61 – 80, 80 – 100) and that the first four age groups eat the same amount of candy (let’s assume that the 80 – 100 age group doesn’t eat Halloween candy for reasons such as it is too sweet, do not like candy etc.)
– Therefore, 4/5 (80%) of the population eats candy = 320M x 80% = 256M Americans who eat candy

Candy Consumption
– $2.7B was the amount spent on Halloween candy
– Assume it costs $10/bag of candy (100 pieces inside each bag)
– $2.7B / ($10/100pieces per bag) = 27B pieces of candy

– If each piece of candy weighs 5g, and 454g = 1lb
– 454g/5g per piece of candy = 90 pieces of candy per pound

– With 27B pieces of candy in total and 90 pieces of candy per pound, 27B/90 = 300M pounds of candy consumed

Candy Calorie Consumption
– Assume 2500 calories per lb of candy
– Given that 3500 calories consumed translates to 1 lb gained
– 300M pounds of candy x 2500 calories per lb = 750B calories in all of the candy sold (and consumed)
– Assuming all 3500 calories an American eats comes from candy, 750B calories in all of the candy consumed/3500 calories consumed per lb gained = 214,285,714 lb gained

Therefore, after Halloween Americans will gain a total of 214M pounds.


J Cardona November 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Hi Victor,

Here’s my take. Considering your assumptions and mine, I got to a total of 205.5mn lbs, or ~0.64lbs per person. Details below:

3,500 calories consumed results in a person gaining 1 lb (0.45 kg) in weight 3,500
All of that candy is consumed by someone in America
US Halloween celebration candy consumption, in USD $2,700,000,000
Average population in the US, Base Amount 320,000,000
Average Candy Price, per Ounce $0.5
Average Grams per Candy 51
Average Calories per Candy 239
Average Calories per Gram of Candy 5
Grams per Ounce 28.35

Total Candies sold, (in total Grams) 153,090,000,000
Total Calories 719,125,329,455

lbs gained 205,464,380
lbs per person 0.64

kgs gained 92,458,971
kgs per person 0.29

Bonus, favorite candy per US State map


Henrique Bejgel November 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I made a spreadsheet with the detailed calculations of my entry:


To sum it up: I took the 10 most popular candies, normalized their calories/usd according to their relative consumption relative to each other and arrived at the total weight gain of about 138.822.490kg which is about 140.000 tons of weight gain.


Tee Owuye November 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm



Sri Malladi November 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

3.6 trillion calories
1.02 billion lbs increase in total weight increase


Dmitry Tolstinev November 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm

1,268.37 pounds

Assuming average cost of $0.0016 per calorie given an average of 6 different types of candy using assumption on bulk discounts.


Robert Högler-Tukerić November 1, 2016 at 1:28 pm

A. Dollar spend per citizen (roughly):
$2.7 billion / 325 mil population = $8.3 per US citizen spend on candy only for this event

B. Price per candy unit:
1. Assumption: Dividing candy bought to give away and for self usage is in a relation of 66,66% to 33,33%, that means 2/3 are bought in big packs with a lot of small and different candy types while 1/3 is bought in normal sizes with only one candy type.

Price calculation:
Big packs = 2/3 * $8,3 = $5,5
Normal packs = 1/3 * $8,3 = $2,8

Big packs in the grocery stores usually contain around 50 pieces. The cost for one big pack in the grocery store is assumed to be $2,5. Big packs in whole sale contain more pieces (assumed 150) for $3. Assuming in america were the same amount of grocery and whole sale big packs sold, results in 100 pieces for $2,75 or 200 pieces for $5,5 (need for further calculation).

2. Assumption: Big packs have different sizes and candy types, so I chose to separate candy according to chocolate, soft, hard and other candy.

3. Assumption: According to the picture I assume that not all candy types are bought in equal quantities. To make the calculation easier, I assume that if all big packs were bought in america with different candy types, the standard US big pack would contain 100 pieces allocated as followed:
– Chocolate (bars) = 45%
– Marshmallows/Gummibaers (soft candy) = 25%
– Bonbons/Lollipops (hard candy) = 15%
– Other candy = 15%

4. Assumption: US citizen like sweeter candy, resulting in higher calories per candy type. Calories per candy type
– One big pack chocolate bars = 120 cal
– One big pack soft candy = 100 cal
– One big pack hard candy = 100 cal
– One big pack other candy = 60 cal

Summing up: One standard big pack contains 45*120 cal + 25*100 cal + 15*100 cal+15*60 cal = 10.300 cal for 100 pieces -> 130 cal per candy. But we assumed before that 200 pieces are sold for $5,5 that means each american bought 200 pieces of different candy types from big packs, resulting in 20.600 calories of candy.

Also each us citizen spent $2,8 on normal packs. A normal pack e.g. big chocolate bar, soft candy etc. is considered to have 300 cal. The price is for calculation purposes set to $1,40 per piece, which means that every american bought 2 pieces of normal pack candy with an average of 300 cal, meaning 2*300 cal = 600 cal extra.

Each american spent $8,3 for 21.200 cal (20.600 + 600) of candy. Assuming that 3.500 cal results in gaining 0,45 kilos, an US citizen would gain on average 21.200 cal/3.500 cal * 0,45 kilos = 2,73 kilos assuming that all candy is consumed in a short time period.


Eamon sweeney November 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

4500 metric tons


Fred November 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

So let’s the main candy-“population” consists of chocolate (~650 calories per dollar) (maybe 50% of all candy) and super cheap sugar-sweets (coming with something close to the prize of pure sugar => 2,500 calories per dollar) oh wow that’s quite a bit.

the average calories per dollar would be 1575 calories per dollar.
With $2.7 billion we have 4,250 billion calories.

So how much weigth does the american population gain if all the candy will be eaten in a short time without changing the rest of the usual diet?
With 3500 calories resulting in 1 lbs we get 4250B/3500 = 1.2 billion lbs for the whole population. Seems far away from what we can process, so let’s boil it down to the single person.
The US have a population of ~320 million inhabitants so dividing the overall weigth-“growth” by the number of inhabitants (so yes of course every child shares the sweets with their grandparents, siblings and everyone else so that everyone eats the same amount 😀 ), this gives a weigth growth per person of 3.75 lbs or 1,69 kg.

Enjoy your candy and don’t forget doing some extra rounds while running the next days 😉

Have a nice day,


Akash November 1, 2016 at 1:32 pm

24.3 million kgs of weight gainrd at the entire population level assuming 35 cal per candy and 50 cents per candy.


Ali November 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Here’s how I would do it if in an interview setting i.e. no access to any further data or a calculator.
Additional assumption: $1 of candy provides 500 calories.
Hence, $7 of candy provides 3500 calories which results in a gain 1lb.
$2.7 billion would therefore result in a weight gain of roughly 385 million lbs for the entire American population.


Jeff Vickers November 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Average Trick or Treater Haul: 100 Pieces (your kids were on record pace)
Number of People Trick or Treater Age (include Adult kids): 1/6 Americans or 50M Trick or Treaters (ToTs)
Calories per Piece: 75

Number of Trick or Treat Pieces: 5B Pieces (100 Pieces X 50M ToTs)
Gut Check $2.7B Sales / 5B pieces = ~ $.50 / Piece
Collective Pounds Gained = 107M Pounds ((5B pieces * 75 Calories per Piece)/3500 Calories per Pound)
Pound per Trick or Treater = ~ 2 Pounds (107M Pounds / 50M ToTs)
Gut Check 2 Pounds after consuming 100 pieces of candy – definitely 🙂


Anuj hans November 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Assume 1 candy cost $5
Total revenue realized $2.7 billion.
Total number of candies brought:- (2.7*100*100000)/5= 54 *100000
Assuming 1 candy has 100 calories
Total number of calories in all candies:- 5400*100000
3500 calories–> .45 kg
5400000000–> (.45*5400000000)/ 3500
Approx 700000 kg


Fabio November 1, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Hi Victor,
This is my estimation:
As long as your problem involves 2 questions, I have divided it in 2 parts.

First part is divided in two calculations:
– 2.7 blns / average price of a oz of candy = # oz in 2,7 blns of candies. The value at the denominator has to be estimated. To do so I considered an average on Snickers and M&Ms prices per oz on Wallmart website. My estimated value is around 0.3071$.
Hence: 2,700,000,000/0.3071 = 8,793,103,448 oz
[Please note that I prefer not to round so much values as the task here is to get a precise answer, otherwise I could have rounded 0.3071 with 3*10^(-1), so the calculation would have been far much easier, but less precise: 27*10^(8) / 3*10(-1) = 9*10(9), 9 blns. In the following steps I will go for the precise values rather than approximations]
– 8,793,103,448 oz * average calories in 1 candy oz = calories in 2.7 blns of candy. Second multiplier has to be estimated. I have converted the value found on this link: https://www.caloriecount.com/calories-candies-caramels-i19074; I have found: 110.56 calories/oz. The result is: 972,192,080,520.38 total calories.
[here again I could have done 9*10^(9) / 1*10^(2) = 9*10^(11), rounding down 110.56 as before I had rounded up the first result, by dividing for a smaller number].

Second part involves the following calculation:
– calories in 2,7 blns candy / 3,500 = lb gained by US population. Result is: 277,769,165.9 lb.
– value in lb *0,45 = value in kgs
Result is 277,769,165.9*0,45 = 124,996,124.6 kgs increase in US population.

I hope you will like my answer. Happy Halloween!


Art November 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

77.1 million pounds of weight, if a piece of candy is assumed to have 50 calories, shared by the American population who collected Halloween candy.


Alessandro November 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Prices for candy bags (top sellers during this week) may vary between $10 (high-end brands) and $5 (popular), taxes included, for a typical 40 oz bag in large stores (like Walmart etc), thus between c$25 and c$12.5 per oz. Smaller shops sell smaller bags at higher prices, maybe around c$25-30/oz. Halloween featured candies may sell even higher such as 30-35c$/oz. Fancy candies may drive the sales during this period so we can set an average price just below 30c$/oz or around 1c$/g to keep calculations easy.

Candies are mainly made of sugar which has around 4 cal/g. However they contain also fat which is more intensive in calories, 9 cal/g. Assuming candies are made 80% of sugar and 20% from fatty sources, their weighted calories turn out to be about 5 cal/g.

Assuming sales are $2.7B, then:
WEIGHT_CANDIES_SOLD = $2.7B/(1c$/g) =2.7*10^11 g = 270,000 ton
TOT_CALORIES_SOLD = 5 cal/g*0.27Gg = 1.35*10^12 cal = 1350 billion calories


Given that 3,500 cal correspond to 1 lb or 0.45 Kg, then:
TOTAL_WEIGHT_GAINED = 1.35*10^12 cal/3,500 cal = 386 million Kg.

If we monetize this weight:
WEIGHT_PER_$ = 0.14Kg/$ (each dollar “buys” 0.14 Kg, that is 3$ buy about 1 lb)

Another interesting metric can be the equivalent cost of calories:
CAL_PER_$ = (5 cal/g)/ (1c$/g) = 500 cal/$ (each dollar buys 500 cal)

The US population gains about 386 million Kg or 858 million lb (about 1.2 Kg per person). However, given that most of the candies are not equally eaten among the population, we can expect kids between 6 and 15 years (about 40 millions, considering an equally distributed population of 320 million people over a life expectancy of 80 years) to gain more weight. Specifically, assuming kids (between 6 and 15) eat 50% more than the rest of the people, it means that:
40M*1.5x+280M*x = 386 M Kg, giving x = 1.14 Kg.
Therefore kids can gain an average of 2x=1.7 Kg from celebrating Halloween week.


Vasili Kharchenko November 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Hi Victor,

I have estimated that Americans will gain approximately 217,555,787 pounds from Halloween candy sales.


Vasili Kharchenko


Bianca November 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm

1. 675billion calories in that amount of candy

2. 190m pounds of weight gained


Nimet Maherali November 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Estimate is 236M pounds that the total population will gain.

$2.7B candy
Average cost of candy: $0.50 per ounce (quick estimate from Amazon)
$2.7B is about 5.4B ounces

Assume candy is equal mix of fruity (eg Skittles) and chocolatey (eg Snickers)
Fruity candy: ~400kcal* per 100g
Chocolate candy: ~500kcal per 100g
Average: 450kcal per 100g

Calories per ounce
One ounce is ~28g
100g is about three ounces
450kcal in 100g is ~450kcal in three ounces
One ounce is ~150kcal

5.4B ounces of candy
150kcal per ounce
(5.4B x 1 = 5.4B; 5.4B x 2 = 10.8B; halfway = 8.1B; adjust for 100 = 810B)
810B kcal total

How many pounds?
3500kcal per pound
810B kcal / 3500 = total pounds
(810B kcal/3500 is the same as 810M kcal/3.5)
(810/3 = 270; 810/4 = 202.5; difference from 200 to 270 about 70; half of this is ~35, add a bit to adjust, so say 36; halfway is about 236; fix to millions)


*assuming that calories in this question is the food calorie, technically kcal


Daniel Kauffman November 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Given the $2.7 billion spent on candy we simply need to find and apply the ratio of dollars to pounds. Currently $1.00:£0.82, so the American population will gain roughly 2.2 billion pounds.


Tyler November 1, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Total cost of Halloween $2,700,000,000
Cost/piece of candy $0.25
Pieces of candy on Halloween 10,800,000,000
Calories per piece 80
Total calories 864,000,000,000
Calories per pound 3500
Total pounds Gained 246,857,143


Annamalai Muthiah November 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Assumptions/facts from the internet:
1. Each Oz of candy has ~ 130 calories.
2. Each Oz of candy costs $ 0.81.

Therefore, total calories contained in $2.7 billion worth of candies is 2.7 billion/0.81 * 130 ~ 435 billion calories.

# of kids in american population is 75 million.

Since consuming 3500 calories per person results in the person gaining 1 lb, on an average, this Halloween, an average american can be expected to gain,

435,000/(75*3500) ~ 1.66 lbs.


Georgi Krastev November 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Assuming 100g of candy is about 500 kcal (information is based on a Twix bar, and off the top of my head it sounds about right for all candy). Then about 700g of candy translates into 1 lb of weight gained.
Assuming people bought the candy in bulk, about 10 USD would probably be enough to buy 700g of candy.
Then 2.7 billion dollars translates into 270 million lbs gained, or roughly a little under a pound for each person in the states, assuming at least 85% of the population participated in the holiday more or less equally.

Also, within your family I’m assuming you and your wife took 140 items of candy, leaving a little over 70 pieces for each kid if they shared equally and didn’t discriminate by, say, age. This is roughly 70*30g = 2100g of candy (30g is actually smaller than the Twix bar, but I am assuming 50g would be near the upper limit for a piece of Halloween candy), which is three times the estimated average! So while you had a very successful Halloween and probably made the money you spent on costumes back in candy (as long as you spent less than 150 USD on costumes), it is certainly a good choice to send some of it away!
PS: As an aside, I was curious to see how this plays into the health trend of giving fruit away, and replacing the same amount of candy with apples would have cost a little under 5 times less and reduced weight gain by a factor of 10.


Louis G November 1, 2016 at 1:52 pm

I wanted to try and do this at different levels of accuracy, as everyone seems to .
Assuming that everyone buys those fun-sized bags of sweets that you have in the photo, the average cost per item is about $0.30. Also, I’m assuming (a bit conservatively) that there are about 100 calories in each item. Also to make it easier, I’ll round the number of calories per pound up to 4000.
So, the spend was about $3bn, so approx 10bn sweets were sold. The total number of calories would be about 1000bn, so the total number of additional weight to the American people will be 250million lb; 1.2lb extra per person!

We can be a bit more accurate, I think. I did a quick check of amazon.com prices for some of the candy you have in the photo. The average price per item is about $0.33 (bulk bought fun-size bags). Calorific value was 121 calories per pack. With a spend of $2.7bn, the number of sweets distributed was 8,181,818,182! With this amount of candy, this totals 990,000,000,022 calories, so a total of 282,857,143lb @ 3500 calories per lb. If we take the most recent estimate of the population of the US (Oct 31, 2016, = 324,824,000) , then you get a total of 0.8596lb per person of weight gained… not as crazy anymore!

But we can try to do a bit better than that.
Let’s assume children under 3 wouldn’t take part. Likewise, children over 16 might think that ‘trick-or-treat’-ing is no longer ‘cool’. Doing a little research, the best demographic data for the US is dated mid-2015, with a population of 321,418,820. The data I’ve found is broken down by sex and age in %. The 3-16 demographic contains 17.91% of the US population, totaling 57,566,111 children. So their total weight gain is 4.91lb each…! Let’s also assume that not all of them go out (~20%) and that each child has to give up one-third of their hard earned sweets to one of their parents in ‘parental tax’, then each child will gain approximately 4.12lb – so parental tax also contributes to children being healthy!

(Bit too detailed I know, but just having fun!)


Ting Guo November 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

The total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy is about 2250 billion calories. The American population will gain approximately 2 lb by consuming these calories. Below is a brief estimation process. Assuming a bag of 150 pieces candies is about $13.5 (I made this specific number for easier calculation below). Based on my knowledge of nutrition facts, a small-medium size candy has 30 calories. So $13.5 can buy about 4500 calories. The total purchase of $2.7 billion can buy about 2250 billion calories (2.7 billion/$13.5*4500). Then let’s round this to 2100 billion total calories. The American population is about 0.3 billion. Taking the info that 3500 calories gain 1 lb, the weight per person gained is approximately 2 lb (2100/0.3/1).


Bruno November 1, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Taking an ASP of a dollar per candy and an average of 200 calories in each one (from bubble gum to snickers), that would give us a total of 2.7 B candies x 200 calories/candy = 540B calories, around 155 M lbs.

In addition, this weight is not a equally distributed around the population. Taking that kids from age 6 – 17 (the real candy eaters) represent a %15 of the US population + a %5 (to make it round) assigned to adults like me who eat their brother’s candies or at halloween parties, we have a total of 155 M lb concentrated in 64 M candy eaters (20% of US population).

This gives an estimate of 2.5 lb of extra weight per candy eater.
Another useful ratio to consider is that each candy eater eats around 42 candies.

To check the consistency of our result, let’s use your kids example: they brought back 420 candies, with a %33 tax, which gives 280 candies divided by 3 (assuming they are okay sharing the same amount). It’s 93 candies each! Double the inital estimation.

There may be some reasonable explanations for this:
1) Kids population (%15) eat way more candy than the adult population considered (%5). We should then weight this sub-groups.
2) ASP of candy could be lower, which makes for more candy per person
3) Your kids set a candy-eating record this year

In conclusion, it would be within reason to set the average weight gained per candy eater in the US in around 2.5 – 5 lbs.

Cheers from Argentina!


Max Bucher November 1, 2016 at 1:56 pm

The Americans gain approximately 300 million lbs in body weight.

Here’s my approach:
So it’s all about estimating how many calories per dollar are bought. I did a quick (1 minute) google search and found that a variety of Mars snacks costs 27$ for 205pc, which are on average ~50 cal per piece.

205pc / $27 = 1025 cal / $2.7

I think this is overestimating the issue slightly, as the average Mars snack has more calories than the average snack size but it’s mostly sugar after all…

So, for $ 2.7 billion, the Americans consume 1.025 trillion calories.

1.025 10^12 cal / 3500 cal = X lbs
=> 1.025 10^9 / 3.5 is approximately 0.3 10^9 lbs

Thanks for the little riddle 😉


Alessandro November 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Prices for candy bags (top sellers during this week) may vary between $10 (high-end brands) and $5 (popular), taxes included, for a typical 40 oz bag in large stores (like Walmart etc), thus between c$25 and c$12.5 per oz. Smaller shops sell smaller bags at higher prices, maybe around c$25-30/oz. Halloween featured candies may sell even higher such as 30-35c$/oz. Fancy candies may drive the sales during this period so we can set an average price just below 30c$/oz or around 1c$/g to keep calculations easy.
Candies are mainly made of sugar which has around 4 cal/g. However they contain also fat which is more intensive in calories, 9 cal/g. Assuming candies are made 80% of sugar and 20% from fatty sources, their weighted calories turn out to be about 5 cal/g.
Assuming sales are $2.7B, then:
WEIGHT_CANDIES_SOLD = $2.7B/(1c$/g) =2.7*10^11 g = 270,000 ton
TOT_CALORIES_SOLD = 5 cal/g*0.27Gg = 1.35*10^12 cal = 1350 billion calories
An interesting metric useful here is the equivalent cost of calories:
CAL_PER_$ = (5 cal/g)/ (1c$/g) = 500 cal/$ (each dollar buys 500 cal)
Given that 3,500 cal correspond to 1 lb, then:
TOTAL_WEIGHT_GAINED = 1.35*10^12 cal/3,500 cal = 386 million lb.
If we monetize this weight:
WEIGHT_PER_$ = 0.14lb/$ (each dollar “buys” 0.14 lb, that is 3$ buy about half a pound)

The US population gains about 386 million lb. However, given that most of the candies are not equally eaten among the population, we can expect kids between 6 and 15 years (about 40 millions, considering an equally distributed population of 320 million people over a life expectancy of 80 years) to gain more weight. Specifically, assuming kids (between 6 and 15) eat twice as much as the rest of the people, it means that:
40M*1.5x+280M*x = 386 M lb, giving x = 1.14 lb.
Therefore kids can gain an average of 1.5x=1.7lb from celebrating Halloween week.


Iakov Fedoseenko November 1, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Question 1: “Estimate the total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy”
Answer 1: 1,440b calories
Question 2: “How many pounds (or kilograms) of weight the American population will gain?”
Answer 2: ~400m lb (or ~180m kg)

As the formula to convert the Question 1 answer into the Question 2 answer is given, I would focus on answering the Question 1 first.
Thus, to estimate the total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy I would need to know Weight of candy purchased and Calories per 100 grams of candy. However, there are different candy types and thus we should consider those types separately. This divides the question into the following three: (1) what are the different candy types, (2) what is the weight of each candy type group and (3) what are the calories in each candy type group. We would then be able to sum all the calories in each candy type group.
(1) Candy types
There are dozens of different types of candies, but the three main types are amongst the most popular that I usually see. Those three types of candies are:
-chocolates (milk chocolate bars, dark chocolate bars, M&M’s etc.)
-jelly beans (incl. marshmallows)
(2) Weight of each candy type group
As it is impossible to know exactly what the consumption of each candy type is, I would assume that it is spread equally according to the cost (e.g. the cost of each group is the same). Then we can estimate that Americans purchased chocolates for $900m ($2.7b / 3), biscuits for another $900m and jelly beans for the remaining $900m.
The price per chocolate bar (100g) varies from $0.5 to $5. I would think that the median is around $1.5, thus I would take it as an average price (which makes $15 per 1kg). This gives us the total weight of chocolates bought: ($900m) / ($15 per 1kg) = 60m kg
The biscuits are usually cheaper than chocolates, the price per biscuit (100g) varies from $0.1 to $2. I would think that the median is around $0.5, thus I would take it as an average price (which makes $5 per 1kg). This gives us the total weight of biscuits bought: ($900m) / ($5 per 1kg) = 180m kg
The price for jelly beans and marshmallows varies from varies from $0.2 to $5 (100g). I would think that the median is around $1, thus I would take it as an average price (which makes $10 per 1kg). This gives us the total weight of jelly beans bought: ($900m) / ($10 per 1kg) = 90m kg
Thus we have got:
-weight of chocolates purchased – 60m kg
-weight of biscuits purchased – 180m kg
-weight of jelly beans purchased – 90m kg
(3) Calories in each candy type group
Now it would be useful to estimate the total amount of calories in each candy group. Let’s take the following estimates for 100 grams of candy
chocolates – 600 calories per 100g (6k calories per 1kg)
biscuits – 450 calories per 100g (4.5k calories per 1kg)
jelly beans – 300 calories per 100g (3k calories per 1kg)
Then we can calculate the amount of calories per each candy type group purchased on Halloween.
Then the chocolates will represent the following amount of calories:
(60m kg) * (6k calories per 1 kg) = 360b calories
Then the biscuits will represent the following amount of calories:
(180m kg) * (4.5k calories per 1 kg) = 810b calories
Then the jelly beans will represent the following amount of calories:
(90m kg) * (3k calories per 1 kg) = 270b calories
Finally, the total number of calories represented by $2.7 billion in candy will be the sum of calories per each group, which is (answer to Question 1):
360b calories + 810b calories + 270b calories = 1,440b calories
And then, the weight the American population will gain will be (answer to Question 2):
(1,440b calories) / (3,500 calories consumed results in a person gaining 1 lb) = ~400m lb (or ~180m kg)
To check the answer, we can calculate the weight gained per person. Assuming the U.S. population is 320m people, we can calculate that average person gained:
(400m lb) / (320m people) = 1.25 lb (or ~0.6 kg)
The answer looks OK 🙂


Marco Nicelli November 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm

total 154 million of pounds, so 0.42lb per person


Jeff November 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Let’s assume for convenience’s sake that all the candy costs about the same per calorie as a Butterfinger fun-size candy bar, my favorite Halloween candy.

A bag of 16 Butterfinger fun size candy bars costs about $2.70 at Walmart. At 85 calories each, that’s 1,360 calories per bag.

$2.7 billion buys you a billion bags of Butterfinger fun-size bars. At 1,360 calories/bag, that’s 1,360,000,000 calories — or 1.36 trillion.

Assuming everyone who eats that candy is maintaining their weight exactly, and does not reduce their eating to compensate for the extra calories (and thus every calorie of candy will yield extra weight), that 1.36 trillion calories translates into about 389 million extra pounds, at 3,500 calories/pound gained.

TL;DR — $2.7 billion in candy translates to 389 million pounds gained (if all the candy is Butterfinger fun-size bars, which in any reasonable world all candy should be).


Christos November 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm

2.7 bls * 600 cals/$= 1.62 trillion cals
1.62 tr. /3500 = 460 million pounds=208 million kgs
(700 grams per american)


Eran Tal November 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Assuming the average candy costs $1.15 and contains 3.5 ounces, the cost of 1 ounce is about $0.3285.

It means that $2.7B of candies (divided by the average cost of 1 ounce of candies) is about 8.217B oz.

Assuming there are 130 calories in 1 ounce of candy, we get 1068B calories consumed.

This, divided by 3500 gives us about 305M lb or 678M kg of total weight gained.

Sanity check:
Us population is about 325M. It means that on average each person gained 0.94 lb or 2kg. It seems reasonable, given the fact that it is consumed in one day (which is for itself radical).



Omar Fouad November 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Breaking the question down into how many calories per piece of candy and how much is each piece of candy.

Based on a list of 25 different candies, a piece of candy is about 75 calories.

A 1 lb bag of candy is about $3. With each bag containing about 18 pieces and each piece about 1.6 ounces then a piece of candy is ~12 cents.

With $2.7Bn sold on candy that is about 23.5 Bn pieces and at 75 calories each its about 1.755*10^12 and with 3500 calories equalling a pound of fat, that is 500 Million pounds of fat for the American population. With approximately 333M people in the USA, that is about 1.5 pounds per American citizen for Halloween. Yummy!


Eran Tal November 1, 2016 at 2:11 pm

One correction: In converting lb to kg I accidentally divided instead of multiplying. So the total in kg is 137M kg, and per person it’s 0.423kg.



Annie Bourgon November 1, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Assuming that people buy treats in packs and not individually, large stores will sell a box of 50 Hershey treats for about $10.
If 2,7 x 10^9 dollars are spent on treat, it represents 1,35 x 10^10 treats sold.

If average ‘fun size’ or ‘snack size’ treat calorie amount is 75 cal (from Twizzlers to Peanuts M&M)
This will represent approximately 1 x 10^12 calories consumed.

If 3500 calories result in gaining 1 lb, then 1 x 10^12 calories consumed will represent approximately 2,89 x 10^8 lbs

Or approximately 289 000 000 lbs. 🙂


Lisa Reynaud November 1, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Hello Victor,

Assuming a price around 10 cents per candy (mix of chocolate bars and smaller pieces) there would be 27 bn pieces of candy in circulation after Halloween, and with an average of 50 calories per piece it is 1350 bn calories ready to be swallowed.
Assuming no waste (not likely), the American population may gain 385 million lb (or an average of a little more than one pound per American).

Too bad there is no picture of your costume… 😉

Best regards,


Colin November 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

For this estimation, I’ll assume that the large majority of candy being purchased comes in bags of “fun size” candy bars. I will also assume that a bag of 100 pieces costs $10 and that each portion is 100 calories. Therefore:

$2.7 billion / $10 = 270,000,000 bags of candy
270,000,000 bags x 100 pieces = 27 billion pieces of candy
Assuming 25% goes to waste (because not everyone likes candy corn and various other candies that only seem to surface on Halloween), we’ll go with about 20 billion pieces. So…

2o billion pieces x 100 calories = 2 trillion calories

2 trillion calories / 3,500 cal/lb = 570,000,000 lbs (roughly)


Shiv November 1, 2016 at 2:18 pm

$2,700,000,000 spent on candy
Estimate of $5 spent/bag of candy
540,000,000 estimated bags of candy purchased

Each bag contains the same amount of candy/calories as 10 snickers bars (estimating based on price and size of bags).
Calories per snickers bar: 250.

Calories per bag = 2,500

Total Calories = 2,500 * 540,000,000 = 1.35 Trillion

Weight gained = 1.35 Trillion/3,500 = ~385 Million lbs


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