The NYT reports that candy sales are way up since the recession started. No sales data are given, only anecdotes -- but what the hell, it's only journalism.
Update: Reuters reports that sales are way down for European chocolate due to people gobbling up the cheap crap that has hardly any cocoa, and which therefore has lots of sugar to compensate. Cocoa contains anti-oxidants, and studies I've browsed from PubMed suggest a little bit helps -- around 1 tablespoon of cocoa a day, or roughly similar amount of very dark chocolate. Dark chocolate also has about 10 mg of caffeine per serving, and has lots of energy-packed fat, so it's a great wake-up food. After discovering Lindt's 85% cocoa chocolate bar, I've certainly been doing all I can to keep Lindt & Sprungli in business.
The suggestion is that candy helps the bingers cope emotionally with the uncertainty. As I reviewed the evidence here, while a brief occasional shot-in-the-arm of glucose might calm you down, high chronic levels of glucose, and so of insulin as well, will actually make you more depressed. This of course makes you want another quick-fix of sugar, so you get locked into a positive feedback loop.
Look at the women in the NYT's article, btw -- the one on the left is just 23, yet looks like she could be 33, and so does her friend. Chronically high blood-sugar levels lead to higher concentrations of reactive oxygen species (the things that cause rust-like damage to your body, which anti-oxidants protect against), as well as Advanced Glycation End-products, where a protein and a sugar form harmful freak combinations that your body never intended to see.
As Gary Taubes points out in Good Calories, Bad Calories, one of the proteins most susceptible to glycation is collagen, which gives skin its youthful plumpness. That's why diabetics' skin ages more rapidly. And just look at the skin of the women in that picture -- before the anti-fat movement took over the country, you wouldn't have seen such repulsive skin on a woman until she was well into her 40s or 50s.