I have to admit that when I first read this news item…
NEW YORK (AP)—It wasn’t the gruesome costumes or gory masks turning up at Lisa Bruno’s front door that spooked her on Halloween. It was the pudge lurking beneath the costumes.
“The kids were just so huge,” Bruno says.
So five years ago, she was scared into changing her holiday handouts, giving out toys instead of candy. Other households do the same, offering stickers, pencils, Play-Doh or glow sticks, to mixed reviews from candy-loving children.
“I thought, here I am trying to take care of my health,” says Bruno, of Des Plaines, Ill. “I felt a responsibility to my community to take care of the kids around me.”
… my initial reaction was: You can’t do that!! That violates the whole point of trick or treating! That was the ten-year-old side of my personality winning the initiative roll. Then the sensible-41-year-old side stepped in and said: Well, we are getting to be pretty fat as a society. I should know, I’m overweight myself. I carry it well and most people wouldn’t say I’m fat, but the truth is I am and all you have to do is take a look around you to see that I’m far from being alone in that regard.
Halloween holds a great number of fond memories for me as much for the joy of coming up with a costume and making it real as for the excitement of rushing from house to house to show it off and get free candy. I trick or treated well into my teens and after my peers had quit because it was something little kids did. I got around being asked “aren’t you a little old for this” by adults by utilizing increasingly clever costumes that impressed enough to distract people from my age and accompanying younger kids as a sort of chaperon. Most years the haul was so good that I’d still have Halloween candy left over well into December because we never were allowed to gorge ourselves on it all at once. Halloween night saw us eating a fair amount, but we learned early not to make ourselves sick on candy. Halloween candy was something you savored for weeks after the event and each time you dug in it brought back sweet memories of a plan well executed and a haul legendary in its proportions.
Even back then, though, there were people who substituted other stuff for candy. There was the dentist who thought handing out toothbrushes would somehow go over well one year. It didn’t and his house was roundly TP’ed by the next morning. The next year he was still handing out toothbrushes, but he was including a package of Dentyne gum with them so as to “sweeten” the deal. That worked a bit better. A couple of houses always gave out pennies instead of candy so there was always some random amount of change jangling around in the bottom of your pillow case by the end of the night. Never enough to get a decent piece of candy on your own ‘cause it usually added up to 13 cents or so. Sometimes you’d get those McDonald’s coupons good for a free hamburger or fries or something which meant you had to talk your parents into taking you to McDonald’s which wasn’t a common destination in our family. Those houses were the exception to the rule. Most homes gave out candy or other decent snacks such as chips or pretzels.
The rest of that news article talks about how some families are letting their kids go trick or treating and then getting them to give up some or all of the candy they collect in exchange for money or toys:
Halloween is the one night when Jennifer Taggart’s 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter get to eat whatever treats they want. Then they decide what’s going to be left for the “switch witch,” who comes at night like the tooth fairy and takes the kids’ candy, leaving toys in her wake.
“The more candy they put out, the bigger the toy,” says Taggart, of Los Angeles. “So far, my son has put out all of his candy every Halloween to get the biggest toy.”
[…] After her kids enjoy some candy while trick or treating, Julie Schoerke, of Nashville, Tenn., buys back as much of it as she can, offering a nickel for each piece of candy they like but don’t love, and a dime for each piece of something they love.
“They could decide how much to keep,” says Schoerke, whose kids are 12 and 15. “Both would rather have the money, so they kept very little candy.
“I didn’t want them to have as much candy as they would get,” she said. “They got huge amounts, and I knew they’d consume it until it was gone.”
I have to admit those are clever ways to deal with the issue and it leaves the choice up to the kids as to how much they want to keep. The last example they cite is the one that we used in our family: rationing. We usually had to ask before getting into our Halloween candy and then we were limited to four or five pieces at the most. That could still result in a helluva sugar high when there were Pixie Stix in the bags, but that was only a problem for the first couple of days as the really good stuff got consumed.
As an adult Halloween has been a bit of a disappointment mainly because the places we’ve lived in the last decade or so haven’t seen much in the way of trick or treaters. I thought for sure when I moved into the Canton apartment that we’d have a ton of kids dropping by. What kid wouldn’t take advantage of the fact that each apartment had its own entrance? One stop could net four handfuls of candy if all the apartments on one side of the building were participating. So I bought a metric ass-ton of candy thinking we’d never get a chance to close the front door. By the end of the night we still had a metric ass-ton of candy left cause we saw all of four kids the entire night. I was so disappointed that I didn’t bother buying candy the rest of the time we lived there. Living with the in-laws was a little better, but even then the visitor count was low because the house was way back off the road with lots of trees covering the driveway making it not only difficult to tell if the porch light was on, but pretty damn scary to walk up to the house. Now we’re in a town home which again has an individual entrance and a back door. No idea if we’ll see any kids this year or not, but we’re going to check with the complex and find out if kids drop by on Halloween. If they do then we’ll try to have some candy to hand out. This naturally makes me long for owning a home of my own in a nice neighborhood. Not only would I love to hand out candy on Halloween, but I’d love to have a yard I can decorate the hell out of in honor of the occasion. Not to mention Krismas being not too far away and all the yard decorating I could do for that as well.
So, yeah, I suppose I didn’t really discuss what the news article was about all that much. That happens often when something jogs nostalgia loose in my brain. I spend more time remembering how awesome something used to be that I never actually get around to thinking about the article itself. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I think it would be a shame if the trend to make Halloween candy-less becomes widespread. Perhaps it would be healthier, but I feel like it would lose something in the process. Though I suppose if that’s they way people choose to go then I’ll just have to learn to adapt and hang on to those cherished memories from my youth.