Family · Holidays

Inside the $650 million cost of jack-o-lanterns

From our “Did You Know?” file: Americans are expected to spend $650 million on pumpkins alone for carving into jack-o-lanterns this Halloween, according to new research by (research here:

  • That’s an estimated $75 million more than what Americans spent on jack-o-lanterns last year.

  • In fact, with $361 million spent on pumpkin-flavored foods in the year to July 2015 according to Nielsen research,  Americans spend more on pumpkins they don’t intend to eat than on their favorite pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks!

  • With an expected 46% of Americans planning to carve pumpkins this Halloween – compared to 41% last year – according to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, and the average advertised retail price per pumpkin totalling $4.35 in September (source: USDA), personal finance comparison website expects $650 million will be spent on pumpkins to be hollowed out and placed on doorsteps and porches around the country.

  • Thankfully, there should be enough supply to meet demand for everything pumpkin-related this fall, with pumpkin production up on last year, when diseases, rain and cool temperatures damaged crops.

  • Overall, Halloween 2016 is expected to be an expensive day with the National Retail Federation predicting the average person celebrating will spend $82.93. Total spending on Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion.

  • Carving pumpkins can cost up to $8 for a large pumpkin over 20lbs and prices are expected to rise in the lead up to Halloween.

“Halloween is a fun holiday for people of all ages. But it can quickly become one of the most expensive holidays of the year if you don’t keep your spending on costumes, decorations and parties under check,” said Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at “Before you go shopping, make sure you know how much you can comfortably spend without going into debt that you can’t afford. If you are using a credit card to pay for Halloween, be honest with yourself about whether you will be able to pay the bill before the interest starts accruing.

To save money this Halloween, get creative with your costume by using items from around the house to create a one-of-a-kind design and be smart when shopping for decorations by asking yourself whether it’s something you can use again for Halloweens to come.”

Tips for choosing the best pumpkin for carving:

  • Pay special attention to the stem – look for a green stem that is not brittle. This will tell you how fresh the pumpkin is inside. And to ensure it will fit a candle inside, knock on the outside; if it sounds hollow, it should do the trick.

  • If you want maximum impact on Halloween, don’t start carving your pumpkin until the day before as they are perishable once exposed to air.

  • Use a sharp knife and stencil, and watch some ‘how-to’ videos so you avoid the risk of ruining your pumpkin and having to buy another one.

  • Unfortunately, you won’t want to eat the flesh you carve out of your jack-o’-lantern pumpkin as they are grainier, stringier and contain more water than their smaller counterpart, the pie pumpkin. The seeds will be suitable for roasting though, so make your dollar stretch a little further by putting them aside when you dispose of the flesh.

Halloween pumpkin facts:

  • In 2015, America produced over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins, half of which were grown in six states – Illinois, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York.

  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.

  • Jack-o-lanterns are believed to have originated in Ireland in the 19th Century.

  • The world’s largest jack-o-lantern was carved into the Guinness World Records on October 31, 2010, by Scott Cully in Bronx, New York, weighing 1,810.5 pounds (821.23kg)



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