Sweetening the 60 Blog

Image result for halloween candy image

Don’t forget to buy your Halloween candy early so you have time to buy more after you eat it all.

Late last week, a friend in New York lamented on Facebook that it was just a little too early for the stores to be putting out Halloween candy.  Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute!  It’s a month until Labor Day, followed by two more months until Halloween.  What the hell is going on here?

I think it’s acceptable to start seeing Halloween candy in late September-early October.  In 2010, it was estimated that Americans would spend about $2 billion on candy during the Halloween season.  In 2016, that number rose to $8.4 billion.  Think about that.  Candy corn.  Bite-size candy bars.  Pumpkin-spice kisses.  Likely, we wouldn’t even dream of eating candy corn any other time of the year because it tastes like crap!

The California Milk Processors Board states that “an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar.”

And since we’re talking about candy, we may as well discuss how trick-or-treating has changed over the years.  Given that candy will be everywhere in the next few months, it is hard to imagine that 100 years ago, Halloween looked quite different from the candy avalanche we know today.  Trick-or-treating is a quite recent American invention. The ritual of costumes, doorbell-ringing, and expectation of booty appeared for the first time in different locations throughout the country in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  It wasn’t until the late 1940s that trick-or-treating became widespread on a national scale. And even then, candy wasn’t the obvious treat.

Kids ringing a stranger’s doorbell in 1948 or 1952 received all sorts of tribute: Coins, nuts, fruit, cookies, cakes, and toys were as likely as candy.  In the 1950s, Kool-Aid and Kellogg’s promoted their decisively non-candy products as trick-or-treat options, while Brach’s once ran ads for chocolate-covered peanuts during the last week of October that didn’t mention Halloween at all.

It took a while for candy to become what it is today, the very essence of Halloween.  Going back even farther to the early decades of the century, before trick-or-treating spread across the land, candy didn’t have any special role to play in Halloween observance.

For youth, and especially boys, Halloween was the one night of the year when communities generally tolerated pranking, which might range from the clever or playful to the dangerous or destructive. Mailboxes, fences, streetcars, and gravestones were popular targets. The point was to cause mischief, not to gather treats. Halloween also wasn’t a gift-giving holiday, which in the case of Christmas and other early candy holidays provided the candy “hook.”

While the hooligans were out wreaking havoc, the more genteel would celebrate Halloween with parties. The menus and décor for these early Halloween festivities emphasized seasonal fruits. Pumpkins and apples were especially important. Making popcorn balls and fudge was sometimes part of the festive activities, but if there was purchased candy along the lines of candy corn or jelly beans, it was an afterthought.


2 thoughts on “Sweetening the 60 Blog

  1. Ahhh, candy corn! I LOVE candy corn. Candy corn and Smarties. And Sweetearts. So…when the kids were little, I’d raid their Halloween candy for my favorites. They never seemed to mind, as those things were not that wonderful for them. I even have a Pinterest board called IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CANDY CORN. I just finished knitting a baby sweater that I am calling the candy corn sweater as it has those exact colors in them.

    Right down the street by the Laguna Hills Mall, a Halloween store has opened. When we were kids, Halloween was right up there with the 4th of July and Christmas. All other holidays were just fillers to get you through to the exciting ones! Getting all dressed up, going for candy. FUN! When the kids were young and we lived in Riverside, our bell started ringing around 5:30 and didn’t stop until after 9:00. We had literally hundreds of trick-or-treaters. A couple years we even miscalculated and had to run to the store for more. But soon it started to dwindle. And after 9:00 p.m. the older kids started to come, and they just weren’t as much fun. They didn’t even take the time to dress up. So, our light went out at 9:00. And my secret to not eating Halloween candy? I always buy the candy I do not like. Full of nuts Coconut. Things I can’t stand. Thus, I am not temped one bit. I do, however, have to keep a watchful eye on Dale, who has a major sweet tooth.

    As we live in a semi-retirement community, we don’t get trick-or-treaters. And I just don’t see that many kids wandering around anymore. Now, we just close up shop and head for the movies.

    Liked by 1 person

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