Utahns Eat Almost Twice As Much Candy As U.S. Average
A study conducted by the Hershey Company shows that Utahns want candy. In fact, it’s now being considered the sweet-tooth capital of America.
Hershey’s found that Utahns purchase candy at the highest rate in the nation – almost double the U.S. average, at an 85 percent higher rate.
Professor Glenn Christensen from Brigham Young University said that there are several explanations for this, both demographic and cultural.
Over 50 percent of Utahns are Mormon. Candy isn’t necessarily a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine, but sugary treats – including and especially green Jell-O and Twizzlers – have become a prominent part of the church’s culture.
“That culture certainly celebrates sugar at some level,” he explained. “Everything ends with some kind of sweet concoction or another. Most forms of consumption indulgences like tobacco and alcohol and coffee and tea are prohibited. That leaves candy and sweets as, sort of, free game.”
Family time, youth activities, Sunday school, and even funerals – Christensen said confections are expected at all of these church functions.
He added that even non-Mormon Utahns have a sweet tooth.
“I would expect that they eat candy at higher than national rates, too, because there’s a group effect,” he said. “As humans, we consume as groups.”
According to the 2015 U.S. Census, about 31 percent of Utahns are children, compared to the national average of 23 percent. They are not only the biggest consumers of candy, but also its biggest promoters. Christensen says children push their parents – the ones with the money – the make the actual purchases.
Small candy shops, giant corporations and even dentists are happy with Utah’s candy craze, even if they don’t necessarily understand the consequences.
“Hey, on the scale of vices, I’ll take too much sugar consumption over too much tobacco consumption or too much alcohol,” Christensen said. “There are worse things to be known for, I think.”