No, it’s not your imagination: Halloween is starting earlier this year

Halloween candies have begun to appear on store shelves and Dunkin’ is about to offer its pumpkin-themed menu.

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It’s a little too early to pick pumpkins, but not too early to start enjoying pumpkin-flavored lattes and Halloween-themed candies.

It’s a little too early to pick pumpkins, but not too early to start enjoying pumpkin-flavored lattes and Halloween-themed candies.

Sun-Times file

The bulbous fruit itself won’t be ready to harvest until early September in these parts, but pumpkin-flavored goodies are already in stores – or will be soon.

And it’s not your imagination — Halloween candies are on the shelves in some stores. Retailers are trying to get a head start on an uncertain year for trick-or-treating.

Dunkin’ pumpkin-flavored drinks and snacks are expected to appear in stores beginning Aug. 19, the company announced this week.

The Halloween season, which runs from early September through October, generates about $4.6 billion in sales of candies and chocolates in the United States, according to the National Confectioners Association, which is based in Washington D.C.

“Given everything that is going on, there is still 63 percent of adults who believe people will find creative, fun and safe ways to celebrate the Halloween season this year,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, an NCA spokesman, citing a recent poll conducted on behalf of the organization.

Gindlesperger referred to the Halloween period as the “Super Bowl” because of its importance to the confectionary industry.

Allison Kleinfelter, a spokeswoman for The Hershey Co., said the chocolate maker works closely with retailers to plan the release of seasonal products. Kleinfelter said some retailers started putting up displays two to three weeks earlier than in a typical year.

“We recognize Halloween celebrating will be different this year, with an earlier start to the season and geographic differences,” she said in a statement. “There will be more at home activities with families sharing timeless traditions and new ways people celebrate with neighbors. … While many people plan to trick or treat safely (outdoors and masks), about half of consumers are open to making new traditions this year including treasure hunts, care packages, contactless trick-or-treating and backyard family/friend gatherings.”

A spokeswoman for Chicago-based Fannie May said Halloween chocolate displays will start appearing in the company’s 60 stores in early September, as they have in previous years.

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