Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Candy

I have this horrible competitive streak. I always have to be the best and this need for perfection often manifests itself in weird ways. Like with the Halloween candy. I want to give out the very best Halloween candy. I must give out the best Halloween candy. If I don't give out the best Halloween candy this year I will feel like a failure. And yes, I know how totally ridiculous this is. I am well aware. Also, how would I even know if my candy was the best, unless I went trick or treating in disguise, saying I was a really, unusually tall eight year old? I just need to feel like I'm the best.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get Halloween candy and to my utter and very real horror, I discovered that candy is freaking expensive. It was over ten dollars for a bag of Nestle Crunches. Good lord. I couldn't even find Kit-Kats and a small bag of mini-Reeses was the same price. To get the candy I wanted it would have cost me a week's pay. Since when did candy get so expensive? Unfortunately I had to settle, because my need for perfection was overshadowed by my need to save money. I got some Blow-Pops, partly because I like them.

The other day Husband and I were having this discussion about how when we were little we always hoped for certain kinds of candy in our orange, plastic pumpkins. I was strictly Reeses Cups, Snickers, Nestle Crunch and Kit-Kat. That's all the candy I liked. I remember feeling distinctly gypped when I got a handful of Bit-o-Honeys. Sugar Daddies were even worse. Gum was usually ok because you could trade it with the kids at school, and it was usually Bazooka.

Bazooka bubble gum is one of the candies I always associate with Halloween. I don't remember having it other times of year. Same goes for Dums-Dums lollipops. I especially remember the cream soda flavor, which I didn't like. I think my favorite Dum-Dum was green apple possibly, but Dum-Dums can't compare to a good purple Blow Pop, not to be confused with a Tootsie-Pop.

Tootsie-Pops (eww) fall into the category of yucky candy. Husband agreed with me one and we had a good laugh remembering all the candy that pissed us off when we were little. Good and Plenty, we decided, may possibly be the worst candy ever made. It's only redeeming quality was that it looked like capsules and was good when you were playing doctor if you needed some pretend pills to give to the kids who had pretend lung cancer from too many candy cigarettes. Smarties also made great pills, as they look like aspirin. Other gross candies include: Necco wafers, Mike and Ike, Black Licorice, brown candy corn (orange was ok, but the brown one was totally out of the question), the afore mentioned tooth-pulling Sugar Daddies and bland Three Musketeers. We also remembered these horrible Life-Savers lollipops that were vanilla cream and either orange or strawberry swirled. Those things were awful. Regular Life-Savers were fine. Good even, especially if you got one of those exotic flavored rolls with the dark purple ones and the pineapple ones. I never have figured out what flavor those dark purple ones were.

Worse than all these gross candies were the rogue treat givers who decided they had to do things their own way. These people can be divided into two distinct categories. First we have the people who, in some idealistic fog of Halloweens past, remember a time when everyone didn't fear razors and cyanide in treats, and decided to go all out and make homemade treats. This was the biggest rip-off ever because the second you got home you knew the homemade treat was going straight into the trash and all that work for was naught. I never understood why people did this when they could just buy a bag of Snicker bars. Same goes for candied and caramel apples, which made your plastic pumpkin feel like you were lugging around a solid rock which reminded you even more that the second you got home it was going in the garbage too, so all the heaving and dragging and carrying that weight around was a waste of strength, which of course, an equal weight of Snicker bars would not be.

Worse yet were the people who decided to give out "healthy" treats. These people were decidedly anti-Halloween. We had a couple in every neighborhood I lived in adn Husband said they were in his neighborhood too. As a child I vowed never to grow up to be the sort of person who'd have the nerve to pass out small, red boxes of raisins when costumed children knocked at my door. Those people are evil. The raisins could have at least been chocolate covered. I hate those things, but at least they're better than plain raisins. My God.

One year some ass-wad on my street got the brilliant idea to pass out trial sized tubes of toothpaste and little toothbrushes. I know this person probably spent a lot of money on this, unless he or she was a dentist and got them for free, and I know this person was probably thinking that we children were going to rot out our teeth on all the other candy we were getting, so perhaps this person felt they were looking out for our best interests. We disagreed. For years after that house got its pumpkins smashed every Mischief Night and they stopped participating in trick or treat and turned off their porch lights, likely huddled inside with the shades drawn hoping the neighborhood children would think they were out of town or something. We weren't fooled. We knew the toothpaste people were like Halloween grinches; no fun and ruining the spirit of our favorite holiday.

The funny thing is that I rarely ate much of my Halloween candy. I'd eat a couple pieces that night and maybe the next day. The rest I gave away. I liked the hunt more than the spoils, I think. The idea of total strangers dumping handfuls of candy at me was a genius concept, I thought and I think I liked the idea of piles of candy more than actual piles of candy. I suspect my sweet husband did not share this sentiment. I'll bet he ate his candy. Except the Good and Plenty.

What were your favorite and most hated Halloween candies? What candies bring back the most childhood memories? What are you giving out this year?

Update: Moxie Mama made her own list! Check out hers too.


Joe Cool said...

Since I grew up in an incredibly small town I always appreciated the popcorn balls people would make for us. I am thinking about being totally awesome this year and going to sames club to get a box of regular sized candy bars. About 20 bucks will get you 40+ Snickers bars. I do remember that when I lived in an apartment while on an Internship during college I didn't think anyone would actually come to my door I gave out cans of Pepsi to the brave souls that came to my door.

Wide Lawns said...

HOLY CRAP!!! I DID THAT TOO! I was going to write about it tomorrow actually. I can't believe there is actually someone else in this world who actually gave trick or treaters Pepsi.

Aleta said...

Reese's cups were the treasure for us. My parents did the same that your parents did - they would go through the pumpkins and search for anything that wasn't sealed properly or homemade and toss it. But what we also found was that my parents would take out THEIR favorite candies and hoard them for their own stash! Lol.

This year, Greg wants to give out Wendy's frosty gift certificate. I looked at it and said, "But it's PAPER. Kids won't appreciate that." I'm going to go buy some candy and he caved. He knows I'm right!

oh and the way to tell if your's is the best candy -- you'll hear it. I remember last year, the kids kept saying, "OHHH! She's got the GOOD candy!" Made me so happy - yeah, I'm a sucker for wanting to have the best candy in the neighbor hood too!!

FreshHell said...

A lot of the ones you hate, I like. I love Mike and Ike, Good and Plenty, bit o honey, necco wafers, etc. Chocolate was best except Reeses cups - I hate fake peanut butter flavoring. I hated gum and lollipops (except for blow pops and tootsie pops), any kind of candy corn. I would eat my candy by how I'd rank its deliciousness: chocolate first, then switch to things like SweeTarts and Smarties, then onto the tough-to-chew things: now or laters, bb-bats, or those hard round jaw breakers (which my daughter calls "suck balls" which makes me laugh just to think about it). The worst was gum, yellow lollipops, three muscateers (a waste of chocolate if you ask me), those awful root beer barrels. Squirrel nut zippers are okay when things get desperate and its them or gum.

Freshhell said...

Oh, and also, I live out in the middle of rural nowhere and we don't get trick or treaters (everyone goes into the city, like us, or attends some church "fall festival").

Jen said...

I'm one of those weird people that likes black licorice so bring on the Good and Plenty. I still buy it every once in awhile when I'm not in the mood for chocolate. I like to bring it to the movie theater.

I would also prefer tootsie pops over blow pops too. I love tootsie rolls.

As far as halloween treats go, I was grateful for any candy I got since we didn't get a lot of candy from my parents. So I ate pretty much anything we got. I didn't like the brown candy corn. I hated those peanut butter taffy though - the ones that come in the orange and black wrapping. Awful candy!!

bluelikethesky said...

I have the same "best candy" complex now that I'm a treat redistributionist.

This year, though, we're actually closing down the treat pipeline to go to a kid-friendly neighborhood where the kids can troll for goodies and the grownups can drink frozen margaritas on the porch. Good times.

Worst candy in my childhood? BANANA CARAMELS. handsdown. They were little squares of yellow nastiness. Best? Butterfingers. Back in the sixties, namebrand candybars were rare treats in our neighborhood.

Coolred38 said...

No fucking way...I was just gonna mention the old couple that invited us in one year...not seeming to realize why little witches and draculas were decending on them...and when they were made aware of our desires to have a treat...they opened their fridge and started passing out soft drinks. It was the first time I had ever received soda pop for a treat...very cool.

Dont know about you guys but my group always ate the "gonna be thrown away when we get home" treats before going home. My mom could never figure out why I wasnt too excited about having her allowed few pieces of candy...maybe cause I had already stuffed my

I hated the candy corn....sickly sweet...and any candy that was extremely chewy...anything that takes that long to eat isnt worth it when theirs recee cups to be had...yay.

MoxieMamaKC said...

Great analysis of Halloween candy! I wrote my own version of your list last week. Check it out. I'm pretty sure we could go trick or treating together!

susie said...

Yes, name brand full-size candy bars were the best treat. But very few people gave those. As a kid, I hated reese's peanut butter cups, but now I like them and buy them to give out as well as stashing some for me. I also have the fun size baby ruths and butterfingers. Trouble is, my husband says we won't be home to give them out. So I guess the candy is all mine!!!!!!!!!

Amblus said...

My favorites were any of the good chocolate stuff: Hersey miniatures, Reeses, Kit Kat, Mounds, Almond Joy. The good stuff. The worst was candy corn, Bit o Honey (sick), Mary Janes, and Tootsie anything. Do you know that I never realized until recently that Tootsie rolls were chocolate flavored? What a lie.

We used to make our parents bus us into the rich neighborhoods where they gave out full-sized candy bars. Can you believe that? Sounds like an urban legend but it's true.

I'm going to give out something from my good list but we only get about 5 kids every year, most of whom are scary teens with no costume. It's basically a bribe to prevent them from breaking into our cars. Good times.

Wide Lawns said...

We used to hate tootsie rolls, which are not chocolate flavored. More like dirt flavored. We used to warm them in our hands and then sculpt them into turds. They make excellent fake turds.

kerry said...

I'm with you about liking the idea of piles of candy more than the actual eating of it. I still do that: I collect chocolate that sits around the house for a few weeks until I start nibbling it. I have to hide it from husband who will eat it all immediately.

One of my favorite memories was my dad taking a shotglass when he took us trick-or-treating. Certain of the neighbors would give him a treat, too. For some reason that amused me.

I need to get candy. I just remembered I haven't done that yet. Yes, it'll be expensive, but that's ok. It's once a year. And it's the only time I can find Smarties! Can never find them the rest of the year.

kerry said...

Good candy: Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Smarties, and the little Hershey's multi-packs. I know my husband will eat all the ones with nuts in them. Yuck.

Bad candy: somebody mentioned those horrible orange and black wrapped things that pretended they were peanut butter; suckers of all varieties; candy corn; bit-o-honey. We never got gum, which was fine.

Jess said...

My grandfather was known for giving pennies. That was cool because there was still a "penny candy" corner store the kids could go to.

Penny candy days are long gone...

Hilary said...

Some of those brand names you mentioned don't/didn't exist up here in Canada, and I know that your Smarties are different than ours, which are candy-coated chocolate - much like M&M's. Those were a favourite.

As I became a bit older, my parents owned a variety store, and chocolate bars and penny candy were readily available to me. Halloween treats still held their appeal though.. but mostly in the acquiring as you mentioned. Fun post!

chasmyn said...

I live in an enclosed community of 34 households, so we know exactly how many kids (give or take an extra friend or two) are coming to our door, and their ages.

For the older kids (because there are only ten of them), I got individual full-sized Toblerone bars. For the littler ones, I got goldfish crackers (they love those around here) and gummy bears.

i LOVEd the chocolate. Anything chocolate. Smarties were a total gyp, but here in Canada they'd have been a score because smarties are like M n Ms here. ;-)

bluelikethesky said...

Oh, lordy, the shot glass idea is the best one I've heard in a long, long time.

Kerry, may I steal if from your family tree and graft it to my own?

Sunneva said...

I liked just about everything. Except, of course, raisins. Our neighbor gave out cupcakes!

Unfortunately, I grew up in central Florida in the 80s and early 90s, and many Halloweens were canceled due to encephalitis scares. We had to go trick or treating at the mall, which SUCKED.

Fancy Schmancy said...

When we were at the grocery store last week, my son spotted a large bag with individual purple bags decorated with spiders inside. Inside the bags were pretzels. We both agreed people who give away pretzels on Halloween stink. One year his daycare provider gave away little boxes of crayons. To that I say, POO! I can't believe your stores down there don't have candy on sale this week. Ours were 5 bags for $10. I waited until today to buy them, I got Nestle Crunch, Kit Kats, Reeses crispy bars, Twix and Snickers. I've got them locked in the trunk of the car until tomorrow night so my son and I won't get into them.

Joe cool, I forgot about popcorn balls, but for some reason I associate them with Christmas. They were awesome.

the Bag Lady said...

Well, gosh darn it. My dad was a dentist and we gave out toothbrushes. (And believe me, the dentists don't get them for free!!) Some of the kids were disappointed the next year when we didn't have them.....gave out sugar-free gum, instead.
Our house never got vandalized for it - guess we were lucky.

catherine said...

best candy came from the little old couple who lived down the street. She made homemade fudge, and since everyone knew them we could eat it, usually before we left their property, it was soooo good. everyone hit them twice, first and last place we visited. They also raised chijuajua puppies and I remember one halloween they were the size of small rats, and barked at us with these teeny little voices.

Worst was these molasses toffee things called kisses that were made by a large candy factory here. It has gone out of business recently, I think it was those nasty kisses.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how many people don't like 3 Musketeers... I've loved them ever since I was little bitty and my dad used to buy them and give me a bite or two.

His other favorite candy bar was Zero.


Kore said...

I loved the chocolate candy the best. Reeses were my favorite, but I loved it all. I never cared much for Blow Pops, crunchy stuff in my gum weirds me out.

Anonymous said...

Well, this one combines people passing out home-made goodies and favorite halloween candy. When I was growing up there was an older lady on the street next to mine (think the stereotypical Italian grandma) who would go all out with the homemade Halloween treats... rice krispie squares studded with orange candy corn and "iced" with chocolate. I am sure that my parents would have made me toss those delectable treats... if they ever made it home in the first place. My brothers and I (and all of the rest of the kids in the neighborhood, I am sure) always ate them as soon as we got them.

I am not passing out anything this year, because I won't be home. But I usually give out fun-sized Snickers, Almond Joy, Peanut butter cups, and Butterfingers. (All some of my favorites)

Decorina said...

Fun post WLNM.

I waited until today to buy candy. And it was on sale - $1.88 for bags of "fun size" candy bars. Not too bad. My first year in this neighborhood so I don't know how many kids will show up. I love seeing their costumes and how excited they get. We moved here from the city center - and I always had some teen age girls that showed up with their punk ass gangsta boyfriends in the car beggin for candy. Idiots.

I've loved Halloween forever. When we moved to Phoenix in the late 1950's we were allowed to go everywhere. One year the governor, who lived one neighborhood over, gave out full sized Hershey bars. We all trooped over there to get one. And the homemade treats were eaten immediately (this was before all the scares over them being contaminated) because if you put them in your bag they got all messed up...getting goo on other stuff.

Anonymous said...

Candy I loved: Snickers-took those home and froze them, Kit Kats, and Hershey's Kisses, also a Bit o' Honey fan, too

Candy I hated: Smarties, any kind of gum, and Necco Wafers

Usually I would pass out anything that I like because I wouldn't have to worry about what to do with the leftovers, but since I had moved to my current location (5 years ago) I hadn't had any kids come to the door. I was sorely disapointed the first year because I went all out and dressed up. I sat on the porch and waited and waited and waited... finally I went inside and I waited and waited and waited...

After that, my husband and I made taking the kids out to trick or treat a family affair. I at least get to see the kid's costumes that way.

nandy said...

Most of my trick or treating was done before the rash of vile "tricks" were done to the poor, innocent kids. I grew up pre-razor blades in apples, so anything we got, we were free to eat.

Unless, of course, it was an Almond Joy or Mounds bar. Those were our mother's favorite candies, and she confiscated them from all our bags.

I really liked getting home popped popcorn in little Halloween treat bags.

Once we figured out who was giving the best treats in the neighborhood, we'd go home, change costumes and hit those houses again.

This year, I put my daughter in charge of buying the candy to give away. That way, I was sure it would not be anything I liked, and I wouldn't be tempted to eat any of the leftovers.

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