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It’s the Reason for the Season

October 29, 2011

It’s tragic.  Tragic like squirrel-gnawed pumpkins (damn you guys).  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of cookie baking, pumpkin carving, door decorating and costume partying, every year we fall further away from the true spirit of Halloween.

If we listen closely, out of the mouths of babes will spring forth those pure, innocent words of truth to help set us back on the righteous path.

It just so happens I have the ability to channel 1981-Angie.  And during a recent conversation with her, I had the opportunity to ask what she would like us all to know about Halloween.

1981-Angie replied without hesitation and with her mouth brimming full of chewed-up Pop-Tart:

My fellow countrymen,

As this blessed All Hallows’ Eve is now upon us, let us not lose sight of why we are celebrating.  Let us not be swept away in the frivolous commercialization of this splendid holiday and let us remember the true Reason for the Season. 

It’s about the candy.  Amen.


Yes, just about this time in 1981, my brother and I were no doubt sitting around on beanbag chairs with the other neighborhood ruffians, brushing off the dust from last year’s trick-or-treating playbook, and talking out the strategy for the big day ahead.

This year we would avoid the maple taffy house.  No more coins would be accepted — we are not collecting for UNICEF, thank-you-very-much.  Bring extra flashlights to sneak past fences.  Jesse, we cannot afford to repeat last year’s chain-link tragedy.  Is it true the Johnson house gave full-sized Three Musketeer bars last year?   If so, we must make the long trek there.

Now.  It was showtime.

***An aside to my readers:  my illustration does not represent a newly adopted schtick.  Rest assured, I will leave the sketching to the professionals.  Like my fellow blogger speaker7 with her amazing Annie Leibovitz-esque depictions of celebrities like Snooki (here).  And then you should also check out blogger Darla’s phenomenal interpretation of her husband’s brain (here), as well as my friend Adam’s textbook illustrations (here).***

Halloween.  The annual sugarpalooza.  A fructose high to last until Easter.  Summer bliss long since behind us, trick-or-treating became imperative for securing the necessary hyperactivity fuel to last through the long, hard winter ahead.

1981-Angie provided me with this candy ranking rundown:


1.)    Candy bars.  (Upper echelon)  Twix, Kit Kat, Krackel, Butterfinger and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  (Acceptable)  Snickers, Score, or 100 Grand.  (Lower rung, aka Old Man fare) Baby Ruth, Milky Way, Nut Roll, Mars and Mr. Goodbar.

2.)    Novelty candy.  Preferably something of high risk for causing brain hemorrhaging or something that could be sprinkled on cereal in the morning.  Nerds, Pop Rocks, Pixy Sticks, etc.

3.)    Any form of gum.  Preferably Chiclets, Charms Blow Pops or Bazooka Bubble Gum.

4.)    Anything tart.  Preferably something of high risk for causing eardrum popping.  Jolly Ranchers, sour balls, Sweet Tarts and the like.

5.)    Anything that could potentially dislocate a human jaw upon chomping.  Notably, Gobstoppers and Jawbreakers.

Moderately Acceptable:

1.)    Slo Pokes.

2.)    Tootsie Rolls.

3.)    Dum Dum suckers.    

4.)    Gummy anything.   

5.)    Rootbeer Barrels. 

Under no circumstances acceptable:

1.)    Peanut Butter Kisses.  This waxy, taffy-like substance with a hint of peanut butter belonged in a bridge mix in a glass jar on a coffee table at my grandmother’s house.

2.)    Brach’s butterscotch or cinnamon disks.  Truly awful.  I wouldn’t have eaten these in the face of a sugar apocalypse.

3.)    Candy corn.  Or candy corn fashioned into non-corn forms,  such as pumpkin-shaped.  (My friend Lori would point out I once happily depleted her supply of candy corn.  To that I’d say, I also ate dehydrated noodles with meat-flavored powder back then.)

4.)    Popcorn Balls.    

5.)    Coffee-flavored anything.  

1981-Angie would have trouble understanding all this “safe” trick-or-treating nonsense, with parents caddying kids around town.  When it came down to the candy-wrangling, we went it alone.  Grown-ups, with their Polaroid cameras, crosswalk use, “please” and “thank-you” prompts — they only served to slow us down.

We also need not bother with the silly plastic pumpkin buckets and felt-decorated treat bags.  No, we traveled light, efficient, with enormous loot-hauling capacity.  We used our pillowcases.  And then we made damn sure we filled them.

With all this in mind, this year, 1981-Angie would like you to forget about sending Halloween photo cards to relatives, put down that carving machete (unless it’s a costume accessory), and get that gingham and raffia craft nightmare wiped off your to-do list.  Let’s think back to the sweet (brain-stimulatingly sweet), innocent times when it was all about the candy. 

Now let’s close with a prayer that there’s fluoride in your water.  Amen.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2011 5:14 pm

    I miss the trick-and-treating of yore. My brother, cousins and I would use pillowcases as our candy sacks, fill them up, come home, empty them and go out for a second and third round. Our parents had nothing to do with us, it was awesome–almost as awesome as this post.
    I would add elephant peanuts and mary janes to the under no circumstances acceptable section.

    Thanks for the shout out btw. The Snookie in my post was an actual photograph taken by Annie Leibovitz. Thanks for thinking I drew up.

    Your illustration was outstanding. You should do more.

    • October 29, 2011 5:33 pm

      I actually just said “ARGH!” aloud when I read your comment. Elephant peanuts were absolutely AT THE TOP of the unacceptable list. And I forgot all about them. Thanks for that reminder.

      Annie Leibovitz, you’ve outdone yourself again. To that, Snooki would say “Poop.”

  2. LaVonna permalink
    October 29, 2011 7:06 pm

    We lived in the country so NO ‘trick or treatin’ for us. Woops, I think we got to go to town once and ‘trick or treat’ with the Stewart kids. It wasn’t much fun since we knew nobody in their neighborhood. We always had a party at school and got candy there–then we would wait for the word—who tipped over the school outhouses this year! The poor Dad’s who had to set them back up!

    • October 30, 2011 8:22 am

      You poor thing. That is the real tragedy of it all. No trick-or-treating.

      Outhouses? Wow, I think I saw one of those once on an episode of Little House and the Prairie.

  3. October 30, 2011 9:10 am

    I lurveeee popcorn balls. Everything on your moderately acceptable candy list is on my black list! They belong in bank teller windows and the nurse’s station after you get a shot, under the age of five. Or any boring place you have to go with your parents.
    Dum Dum suckers make me angry. Popcorn balls make me happy.

    Anyhow, enjoyed your post, 1981-Angie. Hope your current self and your family all have a Happy Halloween!

    • October 30, 2011 9:32 am

      Agreed — one man’s Jolly Rancher is another man’s Peanut Butter Kiss. “Moderately Acceptable” is more along the lines of, I’ll eat this when all the good stuff is gone and I’m twitching from sugar withdrawal. I wouldn’t eat anything on the “Unacceptable” list, no matter the level of withdrawal symptoms (twitching, hallucinating, seizures, etc.). I don’t know that I ever had a good popcorn ball. The only ones I ever tried were like biting into lacquered styrofoam.

      Bank teller windows — without a doubt!

      Happy Halloween to you, too!

  4. jesse m permalink
    October 30, 2011 10:20 am

    what happend with me and a chainlink fence? Im too old to recall. HA , now i do remember the unfortunate run in with the electrified horse fence tony and i had.

    • October 30, 2011 10:55 am

      Hmmm…there just may be some relation between “don’t recall,” “what happened…?” and “electrified horse fence.” You might want to get that checked out.

  5. October 30, 2011 5:12 pm

    Jesse knows there’s only one way to determine if a fence is electrified. You have to get your buddy to touch the wires. Then when it shocks him into stunned silence you have to reach out yourself and make sure he’s not faking. Ouch. Painful memory there, eh Jess?

    I agree with most of your list, sis.

    My unacceptable candy list:

    Black gum drops and any licorice flavored candy like Good ‘n Plenty.
    Butterscotch and cinnamon disks, no doubt.
    Those horrible, neon-blue, mouthwash-flavored disks.
    Boxes of raisins!? apples? Seriously. We got them.
    Tootsie rolls – they’re not chocolate and not gum. And we got them by the thousands.
    Circus peanuts, ugh.
    Candy corn (the pumpkin shaped ones are just evil.) What about the brown candy corn?? It was like the truly rotten ones, I guess.

    • October 31, 2011 8:39 pm

      Yes, yes and yes. Fully agree. The moment I began reading “horrible, neon-blue . . . ” my mouth began tasting mouthwash and the waxy, chewy texture of those odd things.

      Razor blade-Snickers would’ve been a welcome relief next to black gum drops.

  6. October 30, 2011 5:42 pm

    Whew…I think I’m safe on the candy I’m handing out…such a relief!
    My problem…it’s impossible to let those treats just SIT there and wait for the doorbell!
    They cry out to me….and I listen! OK…I’ll try not to eat myself into a diabetic state this year.
    But I had alot of years to catch up on when living on a farm and NEVER trick or treating.
    Wonder if you are buying that?
    Keep writing…and I’ll keep reading. Love you.

    • October 31, 2011 8:40 pm

      Aw, back at ya, Aunt Doris! I hope you got your fair share of the leftovers this year.

  7. November 1, 2011 7:20 am

    Loved this trip down memory lane! Your illustration blew my pathetic one out of the water. Well done!

    My brothers and I also used pillow cases. Come to think of it, for more than a few years we all dressed up as ghosts using some old sheets. Who knew Halloween is right there in a my mom’s linen closet?!

    I had to laugh at the “old man” candy. As kids, we knew which houses were the jackpot of full-sized candy bars and which ones were pennies or rotting apples. My mom used to make popcorn balls as a last resort to hand out after the candy was gone. I think the leftover ones we used as hockey pucks so it was a win-win situation…

    (by the way, congrats on being chosen for Paul’s contest! I voted for you and plan on voting for you every day…hehehe)

    • November 1, 2011 8:55 pm

      Hooray — another vote for the uber-efficient and ultra-convenient pillowcases! I’d love to see that tradition resurrected. I can just see myself sending my kids out with pillowcases some Halloween and having them get ostracized for life.

      I can think of no better substitue for a hockey puck than a popcorn ball. Very resourceful.

      Thanks, Darla, for your vote! I’m still hoping Mr. Skittles will win one day.

  8. November 1, 2011 8:25 pm

    There was definitely a hierarchy, but let’s face it: free candy is free candy. The only thing I wouldn’t eat was that freeze-dried marshmallow stuff; some of it was shaped like a big peanut. (Is that what you’re calling Peanut Butter Kisses?)

    Do you remember Sugar Daddy? And Turkish Taffy? I loved Turkish Taffy. Now I’m getting a little depressed.

    • November 1, 2011 8:45 pm

      Yes! Those awful marshmallow peanuts! A couple other readers were quick to remind me that I failed to put those on the Unacceptable list. I believe they were called Circus Peanuts and were often times orange. Definitely need to be black-listed.

      I loved Turkish Taffy! Crunchy, unlike the rip-out-your-fillings American taffy.

      Would you believe my kids actually got Sugar Daddies this year? I hadn’t seen those things in years.

      • November 3, 2011 6:07 am

        Circus Peanuts?! blech, yuck, phooey, phooey, gah! (sorry to butt in but those things are lethal)

      • November 3, 2011 11:07 am

        Indeed. THE WORST.

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