In the good old days of my youth (before the razor-blades-in-apples suburban legend and way before terrorist threats), we could roam the neighborhood freely. No parents with flashlights in tow, no boundaries—the only questions were how much ground could we cover, how much loot could we haul, and what jokes should we tell.
Yep, in my part of the country, trick-or-treaters were expected to perform for their sweets. Sing a song, tell a joke…well, basically those were the choices. Jokes were quicker, and were typically of the “What’s black and white and red all over?” variety. A snappy “knock-knock” joke could also be told in a hurry, allowing a quick getaway and on to the next house.
In those days—we’re talking 1950’s here—you scored a greater variety of goodies on Halloween night. Mostly candy, but sometimes other things. And for some reason, the stuff I really wasn’t thrilled to get comes to mind first as I look back today.
Here’s my Top Ten list of the worst of what I didn’t want.
- Money. I know that sounds pretty good now, but getting a few pennies dumped into your sack…not really appreciated. It meant they forgot to buy candy, or couldn’t be bothered.
- Candy Apples. Suzy Homemaker moms really thought they were doing us a big favor. They were usually wrapped haphazardly so the sticky caramel would get all over everything in the trick-or-treat bag—and, come on, apples were too healthy, even with caramel sauce.
- Fresh Fruit. You’re kidding, right?
- Cookies. Too crumbly after a night of tumbling around in the bag as we sprinted from house to house. Fine for Halloween parties. Not for Trick or Treat Night.
- Hard candy. I’m just not a hard candy guy.
- Tootsie Rolls. A chewy, cheapo handout. And a pain to unwrap.
- Suckers. Hard candy on a stick. May be where the term “this sucks” originated.
- Tootsie Roll Pops. The worst possible combination of hard candy, tootsie roll, and sucker.
- Popcorn Balls. Another Suzy Homemaker favorite that kids mostly hated. They were fun to throw at girls, though. So that was something.
- Turkish Taffy. Your jaws hurt after trying to eat the stuff, and a trip to the dentist usually ensued. And was it really Turkish?
The one thing I remember in a good way from that bygone era: When you got candy bars back then, they were awesome, regulation size candy bars. “Fun size” had not yet been invented. Who’s the marketing genius who came up with that?
Here then are my all-time favorite Halloween Night treats:
- Sixlets. Love those little sleeves of great-tasting candies.
- Buttons. A long, cash register receipt-like strip of paper with candy buttons stuck to it. Sure, you’d end up eating a little paper, but so what?
- Three Musketeers. Just a creamy dreamy candy bar.
- Nestle Crunch. Chocolate with a crunch. Yes!
- Raisinets. Chocolate with fruit. Even better.
- M&Ms. Plain or peanut…a win-win either way.
- Hershey bars. Loved breaking those rectangles off and savoring them one-by-one.
- Candy Corn. It’s still addictive. I don’t know why.
- Almond Joy. Chocolate with coconut and almonds. A joy indeed.
- Dots. Chewy, but not too chewy, with really good flavor.
Well, happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all get what you want out of the holiday.