The evolution of the advent calendar From horse treats to beef jerky to luxury jewelry, advent calendars have expanded far beyond chocolate.

The evolution of the advent calendar

The evolution of the advent calendar

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From horse treats to beef jerky to luxury jewelry, advent calendars have expanded far beyond chocolate.

Advent calendars have begun growing in variety and creativity. Mariia Symchych-Navrotska/EyeEm via Images hide caption

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Mariia Symchych-Navrotska/EyeEm via Images

Advent calendars have begun growing in variety and creativity.

Mariia Symchych-Navrotska/EyeEm via Images

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

OK, we're nearly a week into December, which means many of us are working our way through Advent calendars.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Oh, yeah. You open a little door on a cardboard panel every day for the 24 days before Christmas, and behind each door is a treat, traditionally a little chocolate.

MARTIN: But these days, Advent calendars are going far beyond chocolate,

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah. Beef jerky - beef jerky - or socks, even beard oil.

MARCIA MOGELONSKY: They're everywhere. They're just everywhere. Everything's an Advent calendar now.

MARTIN: You're so excited about the beef jerky.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Marcia Mogelonsky is an expert on consumer behavior at the market research firm Mintel.

MOGELONSKY: It's a great way to sell stuff, especially little samples of stuff.

INSKEEP: For example, beef jerky. She says getting those little samples to customers is important to companies right now.

MOGELONSKY: It's especially difficult to sell new products when the economy is not the best in the world because you're reluctant to spend a big amount of money on something you might not like.

MARTIN: Brands hope their Advent calendars get customers buying more, whether it's beer or art supplies or makeup.

MOGELONSKY: So if you like it, after Christmas, you can go buy the big thing that came with a little thing, like the whole makeup kit that came with the one lipstick.

INSKEEP: Some of these Advent calendars are getting wild. There is a luxury calendar by British jeweler C W Sellors that costs $23,000.

MARTIN: Despite how absolutely out of control that sounds, Marca Mogelonsky says Advent calendars are actually a great way to give gifts.

MOGELONSKY: We all need the gift of time, and this is a way of slowing us down. So it kind of prolongs the experience, as the original Advent calendar concept was when it was developed in the late 19th century. It was a way of marking the days till Christmas.

INSKEEP: In fact, Mogelonsky thinks Advent calendars do not have to be just for Christmas anymore.

MOGELONSKY: A countdown to your birthday, a countdown to your kid's graduation. Instead of one big gift, draw it out. Slow time down a bit by counting the days till this happens.

MARTIN: Counting down days with the gift of your choice.

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