Variety of candy in a store.

Mormon vice: Utah buys more candy than any other state

Variety of candy in a store.

Variety of candy in a store.

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) While many Utahns have the willpower to avoid alcohol, coffee and tobacco, they just can’t stay away from the candy.

The state buys confections — candy, mints, gum — at the highest rate in the nation, according to sales data from The Hershey Co.

Residents of the Beehive State are especially fond of Hershey’s licorice Twizzlers, said Lisha Bassett, sales manager for Hershey’s Salt Lake City District, which includes all of Utah and parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

The red-colored variety is the favorite, she said, but chocolate also is “incredibly popular in our market, which is unique.”

Confections are a multibillion-dollar U.S. industry, generating $17 billion to $18 billion in sales each year, said Bob Goodpaster, Hershey’s chief global knowledge officer.

Nationally, about $15,000 worth of candy is sold for every $1 million of total grocery sales, he said.

In Utah, however, $23,000 worth of candy is sold for every $1 million in total grocery sales. That’s the country’s highest percentage, basically making Utah the nation’s sweet-tooth capital.

The Hershey Pennsylvania District — where the national candy company is headquartered — runs neck and neck with Utah, but still takes second place, said Goodpaster. The figures were calculated using 12-month sales data from June 2013 to June 2014.

Glenn Christensen, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, has a theory about what drives Utah’s candy sales.

More than 60 percent of Utahns are Mormons, who typically abstain from alcohol, coffee and tobacco. With those vices frowned upon, candy is an acceptable treat, he said, Sweets are ubiquitous at family gatherings and LDS events.

“We don’t drink alcohol, we don’t smoke, we avoid coffee — but we certainly do sugar,” Christensen said. “It’s the only allowed indulgence.”

Utah also has a large population of children — candy’s biggest fans. In 2013, 31 percent of the state’s residents were under 18, while the national average was 23 percent.

Hershey has been taking a closer look at its sales statistics and using them as a guide to “help us determine what to put on the shelf and what to promote” in various parts of the country, Goodpaster said.

Other statistical quirks unearthed by Hershey researchers:

  • Customers in Minnesota buy six-packs of Hershey bars at higher rates than any other Americans, particularly in the summer. The reason: s’mores.
  • Latinos like Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bars in disproportionate numbers.

(Kathy Stephenson writes for The Salt Lake Tribune. Bloomberg News contributed to this story.)

KRE END STEPHENSON

Comments

  1. Kathy wrote: “[Mormons abstain from]….coffee and tobacco. With those vices frowned upon….”

    Coffee is a “vice” like green beans are a “vice.”

    Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and is negatively correlated with several different types of cancers as well as diabetes. Coffee is also correlated with longer life expectancy, and caffeine (a component of coffee) is negatively correlated with dementia.

    Excessive use of coffee can be problematic, particularly for those with stomach disorders. For people with specific medical problems excessive milk and bread can also pose problems. But for most people coffee consumption is a healthy drink that bequeaths important health benefits.

    The fact that Mormons consider coffee to be a “vice” is ludicrous, Particularly given their penchant for sugar/candy (a true vice) and pop (another true vice).

  2. I should totally move my business to Utah!!

  3. Its a boom area for dentists as well!!!

  4. I agree. So many Mormons set themselves above others because they don’t drink wine or coffee. In moderation, both have proven health benefits. Candy is known to have severe negative affects both physically and mentally when you eat too much. But as with anything else, in small amounts there’s really not much wrong with any of it.

  5. Candyman,

    This article was made especially for you…lol… Utah isn’t that far away from me, here in the state of Nevada! And we have a lot of Mormons here as well!

  6. Anti,

    Agreed! Even the apostle Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy to take a little wine.. It would help his upset stomach!

  7. Look, I’m a Mormon. We don’t abstain from coffee because we think we’re better than other people. For us, it’s like the commandment to the Israelites nor to eat certain unclean animals. The animals themself weren’t bad. The reason that they were commanded to abstain was to give them an opportunity to show their obedience to the Lord. Coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol aren’t inherently bad. Like you said, they are healthy in moderation. However, we have a commandment to abstain from them.

  8. Robert Jones, lds.org (the official site) states that the Word of Wisdom is a health code and that coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol are harmful substances that you should not intentionally consume at all. Your view seems like an alternate one and I’m wondering if it’s officially endorsed by the church.
    It’s always been interesting to me that at the same time a “clean healthy living” movement emerged in the US (mid 1800s), two new religious movements, LDS and Seventh-day Adventism, adopted dietary restrictions similar to what the larger cultural movement was advocating.

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