November 1, 2011

We took Anna (3.5 years old, Minnie Mouse) and Abby (1.5, Bumble Bee) trick-or-treating last night with a rather large group of their neighborhood friends. After we arrived home, we let them each have one piece of self-selected candy (Tootsie Roll Pop for each), and then we put them to bed and got down to the fun stuff: statistical analysis of the haul!

The loot analysis is limited to Anna’s trick-or-treating, since Abigail’s haul has a selection bias due to skipping some houses that had steep steps and/or scary decorations.

Logistical Efficiency

Total homes approached: 51

Total time trick or treating: 70 minutes

Approaches/Hour: 51/70*60 = 43.7

Comments: We live in a townhouse neighborhood, so even with a dozen pre-schoolers and toddlers in our posse, we are able to cover a lot of ground quickly. In addition, our neighborhood uses a pretty standard system of porch lights and glowing pumpkins to indicate whether the door will be answered, so some strategic skipping (after cursory checks for stoop jars of candy) was employed by the older children, with the younger ones following along. We lost some time due to mildly-enforced rules that all children say “thank you.”

Binary Success Rate

Subtotal, doors answered: 29

Subtotal, candy jars on steps: 6

Total, homes delivering candy: 35

Success rate: 35/51 = 68.6%

Comments: Given the housing stock, demographically our neighborhood has a disproportionate number of young families and couples-soon-to-be-families. This depresses the success rate because (a) many of the young families do not leave someone home to hand out candy; and (b) many of the young couples without kids are out attending adult Halloween parties. The jars-on-steps are probably higher than other neighborhoods, because we get virtually no unaccompanied older children who are likely candidates to completely clean you out in one approach.

Loot Gathering Efficiency

Total pieces of candy: 80

Yield/Approach: 80/51 = 1.6 pieces/approach

Yield/Delivery: 80/35 = 2.3 pieces/delivery

Pieces/Hour: 80/70*60 = 68.6

Comments: Yield and rate figures are sub-optimal because we reminded Anna to only take one piece from jars on steps, and attempted to limit multi-piece grabs from bowls, even when offered by distributors. There was some visible shirking of these rules. Counts were made post-bedtime, and reflect one authorized consumption and no observed illegal consumptions.

Descriptive Loot Analysis

Complete list of all pieces of candy (all “fun” size where applicable, unless otherwise noted): seven Kit-Kat, four Skittles, six Laffy Taffy, two pixie stix, one Hot Tamales, four full-size single Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, one miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, one Three Musketeers, one Dots, two sour patch kids bags, one apple head, seven Bottle Caps, one sour punch twist, one Scooby Doo fruit snacks pouch, two sweet tarts, four boxes of Nerds, two Smarties, three Tootsie Roll Pops, one Dum Dum Pop, one bag of Gobstoppers, one bag of pretzels, two bags of Peanut M&Ms,  three Twix, three Krackel, two Almond Joy, eight Starburst, one Butterfinger, two Hershey bars, two Cowtails, Two Snickers, and two Crunch bars.

Standard metric of candy value:

10: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

9: miniature Reese’ Peanut Butter Cup

8: Excellent chocolate bars (Twix, Kit Kat, Crunch Bar, Krackel, Butterfinger, etc.)

7: Good chocolate bars plus M&Ms (Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Hershey bar, M&Ms, Almond Joy, etc.)

6: Pops and chocolate sweets (Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Roll Pops, Dum Dum Pop)

5: taffy-life creations plus Skittles (Laffy Taffy, Starburst, Skittles, etc.)

4: All other Wonka-style candy (Nerds, Bottlecaps, Gobstoppers, sweet tarts, smarties, Pixie Stix etc.)

3: psuedo-candy and sour candy (fruit snacks, sour patch kids, etc.)

2: non-candy (pretzels, apples, etc.)

1: trade-value-to-suckers only (Dots, Cowtails, Hot Tamales, apple heads, etc.)

0: non-food items; items that must be chucked for unsafe packaging.

Bonuses: +25 for each full-size candy bar.

Comments: The standard metric is not debateble, except for whether a Hershey’s Kiss comes in unsafe packaging. If not, it’s a 6.

Statistical Loot Analysis

Total Haul Value: 445

Mean Piece Value: 5.56

Standard Deviation: 2.24

Median Piece Value: 5

Number of non-food or unsafe items: 0

Number of full-size candy bars: 0

Comments: I thought this was a pretty mediocre haul. Way, way too much Wonka crap, and it’s not like we’re talking about Wacky Wafers or Runts here, just your pedestrian sweet tarts and  Nerds. The high-end was also very unrepresented. Four regular peanut-butter cups? Yikes. No full-size bars? That’s unlucky. I’m still in search of a repeat of the holy grail of successful deliveries: October 31, 1989, last house on Primrose Drive, Loudonville NY, which featured full-size Crunch Bars and two-pack Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a candy jar on the steps!

Outlook for Anna and Abby

Pieces allowed per day: 1

Theoretical last day of Halloween candy: January 17th, 2012.

Estimated adult pilferage rate: 1 piece/day/adult

Estimated “forgot” rate/week: 3

Estimated illegal consumption by children: 0

Realistic last day: December 2nd, 2011.

Comments: My strong working assumption is that 3 year-olds will neither notice missing candy, nor treat themselves to illegal candy. But we’ll find out.



2 Responses to Nerd(s)

  1. Bridget on November 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Solid analysis, Matt, but I question your “excellent chocolate bars”/”good chocolate bars” allocation (having spent my Halloween researching the finer points of bankruptcy court jurisdiction whilst listening to mildly depraved Greenwich Village Halloween parade revelry until 5 a.m., I take issue with your assertion that this point is not debatable). Without question, Snickers is superior to Twix, and – recognizing that I’m in the minority here – I’d even say that I’d rather see an Almond Joy than a Butterfinger. All in all, though, an outstanding 3 yo performance on Anna’s part, and kudos to Abby for sticking to her principles on the expected value of scary decorations/unnecessary stair exertion. See you guys in a few weeks 🙂

    • Matt on November 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Wow. The Almond Joy comment blows my mind. I was really considering making as separate category lower down for bad chocolate bars, and that was going to be the poster child.

      I know some people like Snickers a lot, and also that a lot of people are skeptical about Butterfingers. But my impression is that these people are deluding themselves, or have fallen sucker to advertising.


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