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WASHINGTON, D.C. — During the holiday season, Americans will both share and gift candy as they enjoy their favorite wintertime treats in moderation. In recognition of this, National Confectioners Association (NCA) President and CEO John Downs recently answered questions related to the role that chocolate, candy, gum and mints can play in holiday traditions and celebrations.
Candy plays a special role in important holiday traditions, and accordingly, 85 percent of Americans say they will likely give someone a gift of sweet treats this holiday season. Candy canes, gumdrop-adorned gingerbread houses and chocolate coins in particular are synonymous with the holiday season.
However, this doesn't mean that consumers will overdo it on sugar consumption during the holidays.
"Consumers understand the unique role that confections can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle and they choose to enjoy candy in moderation," Downs said. "A traditional candy cane has just 55 calories, making it an easy treat to enjoy this month and still practice moderation."
Most people in the United States enjoy candy two to three times per week, averaging about 40 calories per day and approximately one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items. Candy accounts for less than 2 percent of the average American's overall caloric intake, according to the NCA.
"It's also interesting to note that more than 90 percent of parents discuss or plan to discuss balance and moderation with their children relative to their candy consumption. While most parents report having these conversations year-round, many use the holidays as a conversation starter," he added.
Candy companies embrace the holidays as a time of both nostalgia and looking ahead to a new year, according to Downs. They offer longstanding favorite treats while embracing innovation in products and packaging, making a wide variety of options that includes fun holiday designs available in packages ranging from fun size to share size.
When it comes to favorite holiday treats, three out of four Americans report that the traditional peppermint flavor is their favorite variety of candy cane.
"Beyond the classic candy cane, 36 percent of Americans prefer to find foil-wrapped chocolates included as part of a holiday gift," Downs said. "Of those that enjoy receiving gifts of chocolate, nearly half prefer chocolate Santas, while about a quarter each like chocolate snowmen or chocolate coins best."