Posted on April 02 2021
Photo by Rachel Kulchin
Map and Story by Ali Harford
In my attempt to create a map of the most popular Easter candy by state, I decided to use Google Trends data. I liked this idea because trending search topics are good at reflecting pop culture and because Google is so widely used. I also wanted data collected as close to Easter (April 4, 2021) as possible. However, there is a major anomaly in Easter candy Google Trends data this year: Everyone’s obsessed with Peeps.
Even if I take out a major spike in searches for the term “Peeps” on and around March 26—Pepsi announced a Peeps flavored soda on March 25, causing chaos—Peeps remains the most searched term out of popular Easter candies. This strikes me as bizarre because the 2021 RetailMeNot Easter candy survey found that Peeps are the favorite Easter candy of only 14% of respondents, and in 2019, the survey found that 73% of respondents don’t like Peeps at all.
The most popular candy, the favorite of 26% of survey respondents, is Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Eggs.
What’s up with the insane amount of search traffic for Peeps? Seriously, you guys, it’s skewing the data. Is everyone just hate-searching, or what?
So, maybe I needed to get specific with Easter Peeps. When I compared the search terms “Peanut Butter Eggs,” “Jelly Beans,” “Cadbury Crème Eggs,” “Chocolate Bunny,” and “Easter Peeps,” jelly beans became the most popular search term. I can’t argue there—I love jelly beans. This data made more sense to me.
Then again, jelly beans are a year-round candy. The searches for “jelly beans” in early March might have nothing at all to do with Easter. So maybe the data that makes the most sense had to be objectively about Easter. I added “Easter” in front of every search term and narrowed the data collection to start on March 28, after the Pepsi-Peeps fiasco and a week before Easter.
“Easter Peeps” came back up as the most searched term, along with “Easter chocolate bunny,” and “Easter Jelly Beans,” effectively de-throning the fan-favorite peanut butter eggs. I ask you: Why is everyone searching for Peeps!?
But this data seemed wrong too—the search popularity for each term dropped significantly. There are way more searches for “peanut butter eggs” than for the specific term “easter peanut butter eggs.” This, of course, makes sense. To make a true map of The Most Popular Easter Candy by using Google Trend data, I would need to find the most popular easter candy search terms—which, I believe, are the terms I started with.
When I thought of the idea for this map, I thought it would be so cute, the data so easy to find. I didn’t plan for the Pepsi-Peeps insanity or the million other factors I found that influenced the search-term data. The Eastertime-adjacent popularity of shirts that say “Hangin’ With My Peeps.” The inexplicable rise of the search term “black jelly beans,” objectively the grossest flavor of jelly bean. The explosion of searches for a “Peanut Butter Eggs Recipe,” to which I demand: Why would you ever try to make homemade peanut butter eggs!?
There is so much more going on in the world that drives the popularity of Easter candy search terms. I set out to make a map of popular Easter candy using Google Trend data and instead found that everyone is overwhelmingly obsessed with Peeps.
And so, finally, I present to you, not the Most Popular Easter Candy map, but the Most Searched Easter Candies in the U.S. map, in all its search-term-data-biased glory. Peeps have the nation in a chokehold, whether because everyone secretly loves them, or because the Peeps haters need an answer as to why the wretched marshmallows exist. Jelly beans come in second.