It'll Never Fly: Halloween

The festival we now call All Hallows' Eve existed in obscurity for centuries, celebrated by pagans, the Celts, and the odd witch and wizard. But Irish believers fleeing the Potato Famine took it to the US, where the Americans got their teeth into it. Before you could say 'marketing opportunity', it was on our shop shelves - usually by August. As if by magic, it is now the third most profitable event for UK supermarkets, after Christmas and Easter. Last year, UK consumers spent £120m on Halloween - a massive jump from £12m in 2001. In the States, festival fans spent an astonishing $3.3bn in 2005. Now that's scary. As a Woolworths representative said: 'It's no longer a matter of a few plastic fangs.' Partygoers expect themed food, drink and decorations and increasingly elaborate costumes, while trick-or-treaters need to be kept at bay with hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of sweets, paid for by beleaguered home-owners. Kerching! A survey of adults' Halloween costumes in the US in 2005 found 3.9 million witches, 513,000 zombies and 271,000 pimps wandering the streets - sounds like an average night out in south London. But not everyone will be bobbing for apples come the 31st of the month. In some parts of Britain, this face-dunking has been replaced (through fear of saliva-borne germs) by standing over a bowl with a fork in the mouth, trying to skewer an apple. And so another perfectly good tradition bites the dust.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

When spying on your staff backfires

As Barclays' recently-scrapped tracking software shows, snooping on your colleagues is never a good idea....

A CEO’s guide to smart decision-making

You spend enough time doing it, but have you ever thought about how you do...

What Tinder can teach you about recruitment

How to make sure top talent swipes right on your business.

An Orwellian nightmare for mice: Pest control in the digital age

Case study: Rentokil’s smart mouse traps use real-time surveillance, transforming the company’s service offer.

Public failure can be the best thing that happens to you

But too often businesses stigmatise it.

Andrew Strauss: Leadership lessons from an international cricket captain

"It's more important to make the decision right than make the right decision."