Halloween can be tricky. Your inner child demands that you should dole out the best treats possible. Your more recent role as parent scoffs at that sentiment and leans toward something healthy, dare we say, raisins? Horrors! Do not be that adult. I am mixing holiday metaphors with abandon here – do not be a Halloween Scrooge. Show the love this Halloween season, and pony up the quality candy.
True confessions: one year my mother handed out crummy cardboard boxes of raisins. This was when I was still an active trick-or-treater, and received feedback from my fellow kids. I still recoil with shame. Raisinets are a hideous candy; a crime against kid-dom. But my mother couldn’t even claim that she had mistakenly bought Raisinets instead of Milk Duds, or Junior Mints. Nope. She, with blatant disregard for her children and their reputations, bought boxes and boxes of Sun-Maid raisins.
Do you remember eating those raisins from those tiny little boxes? They would clump together in the bottom of the box. There would be a few sweet ones, but most often, they would be dried-up, wizened, former grapes. With no appeal, and surely, few health benefits. We might as well have been eating boxes of Dots, which seemingly only appear at Halloween, and are a dentist’s best friend for getting wedged between burgeoning molars. For weeks raisins haunted me, in my brown paper lunch bag, reminders of the Halloween past.
When my own children were trick-or-treaters they responded to the neighborhood legend that promised that a prominent (though very flashy) attorney gave away full-sized Snickers bars. As these legends are wont to waver and their salient points alter slightly, sometimes the story was that a maid (in uniform) handed out the full-sized Hershey bars. Or that the butler would sometimes distribute a crisp, new five-dollar bill to the lucky child who wore the best costume. Ah, youth. I think the best the bravest kid ever got was a small-ish chocolate bar, but they learned early that if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. The intrepid few who rang the attorney’s bell were rewarded with life-long bragging rights of the tale of the Snicker’s bar that got away.
Sometimes the weather determines the treats. Some years it is too hot for chocolate. Or for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Or those Hersey bars. M&Ms are usually a safe pick – but in little bags – not in those tiny boxes. What are candy manufacturers thinking? Are they lobbied by the paper industry to sell 5 tiny pieces of candy in frustrating packaging to shore up the paper business? Remember those boxes with fused Junior Mints? So disappointing.
You know all that stale candy found at the very bottom of Halloween treat bags along about Thanksgiving? Because it is the absolute worst. In the real world, you only see it in movie theatres. As none of us has been to the movies in almost two years, I imagine the Jujube, Dots, Raisinets, Mike and Ike, Dum Dums, Tootsie Roll and Jolly Rancher lobbyists are pushing their wares on the unsuspecting former kids who run grocery stores.
The only time I am tempted by candy is in the check-out line at the grocery store, where I contemplate all the calories in the full-size Snicker’s, 3 Musketeers, and Milky Way bars. Standing there, trying not to pick up People Magazine, I do not see any of the weird candy bars that are trotted out at Halloween. When was the last time you toyed with the idea of buying a Zagnut bar? Have you ever forked over actual cash for a Baby Ruth bar? Why would you buy a bag of miniature $100,000 candy bars, with tiny Almond Joys and mini-Mounds bars for the children in your neighborhood? Did you have a personal fondness for them in your mis-spent youth? I used to wolf down Butterfinger bars in college, but I was skinnier then, and may have inhaled.
Go for the classics. Go as big as you can afford. Max out with Twix, Snickers, KitKats, Tootsie Pops, AirHeads, Skittles, York Peppermint Patties, Toblerone. Make a kid’s night. Be the stuff of neighborhood legend. It is only one night out of the year. You do not want the ghosts of Halloween raisins to come back to haunt you.
“Halloween shadows played upon the walls of the houses. In the sky the Halloween moon raced in and out of the clouds. The Halloween wind was blowing, not a blasting of wind but a right-sized swelling, falling, and gushing of wind. It was a lovely and exciting night, exactly the kind of night Halloween should be.”
― Eleanor Estes