Easter has chocolate bunnies, Christmas has chocolate Santa’s and candy canes, Valentine’s Day is full of heart shaped boxes full of chocolates. It’s hard to find a holiday that DOESN’T have candy associated with it – but no holiday even comes close to the amazing, bounty of candy that you get at Halloween! Seriously, almost every holiday has candy incorporated into it. For Christmas, there are candy canes; for Easter there’s chocolate eggs; for Hanukkah – chocolate coins; but I think we all can agree that when it comes to candy, Halloween is the king.
The whole idea of Halloween is centered around candy. It didn’t start out that way though. Halloween originated about 2,000 years ago with the Celtics (not the basketball team). Instead of trying to explain 2000 years of history, I’ll just sum it up by saying that the Halloween traditions that we celebrate today began in the late 1800’s, and by the 1950’s it became the holiday that we now know. According to History.com: Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
My first memory of Halloween was when I dressed up as Superman. My dog, Teddy, dressed up as Superman too (see photo below). That was the start of my super-hero phase. Costumes from the following years were: Batman, Robin and Buzz Lightyear. (You get the theme now – I was starting early in my quest to become a super hero.) Later in my Halloween career, I took a turn to the dark side, and started dressing as monsters, ghouls, and other dead things. I also remember checking the weather constantly to see if I would have to wear a coat over my costume, or put 3 layers of long underwear on UNDER my costume to keep warm so I didn’t have to wear a coat.
All of my memories of Halloween have been amazing! According to my parents though, what I remember is different from what they remember. Perhaps this is a case of selected memory because they have told me that I cried my whole first Halloween. (So would you if you were stuffed into a big plush Eeyore costume… anyway, Eeyore was the sad one – he was supposed to cry!). I don’t know exactly what my parents were thinking when they dressed me up as, “a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic, old grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of the title character, Winnie-the-Pooh”, according to Wikepedia. Perhaps I was channeling my inner-Eeyore. ( see picture below…)
But seriously – one of the best things about living in Rockford is that Rockford definitely knows how to celebrate Halloween! It seems that everyone gets into the holiday spirit. At our house, alone, we get between 300 and 400 trick-or-treaters a year – even the parents dress up (some even have candy bags). It’s like a giant party!
My main goal always was to get as much candy as possible. Over the years, I developed strategies to maximize my candy intake. I did have one obstacle that stood in the way between me and obtaining candy: my parents. Let me explain: my parents are very social people and know a lot of people in our neighborhood. In the two hours of trick-or-treating, I was lucky to get to six houses, if I even got out of my driveway because my mother would be taking so many pictures (flash by flash, burning up my precious candy-collecting time!). This all changed when I was able to trick-or-treat on my own. In my first year alone, my candy profit increased by 1200%. Here is my top-secret formula:
(# of Houses) x (# of candy) – (distance*)/ time= Efficiency
When we were trick or treating, my friends and I would sprint from house to house as fast as we could. This became very tiring and every once in a while we would fall to the ground, gasping for air, soon to resume our candy-crazed journey as soon as we caught our breath! Eventually we had the idea to start a special Halloween Conditioning Camp to get us into top physical shape, to increase our endurance to reach as many houses as possible within the two hours allowed for collecting candy. In other words: Halloween Boot Camp.
One of the most important rituals of Halloween is trading candy. First I would sort my candy into very specific groups. It was quite a process. I divided my candy into “the good pile” (anything chocolate) and “the bad pile” (what are those things that look like giant peanuts anyway?) Next, I separated my heap-o’-sugar, aka: good pile, into: chocolates, sours, chewy, salty, etc. Things changed as I got older – trading candy evolved into playing poker with candy.
To conclude – Halloween is the one day that you can eat as much candy as you want, and no one says no. And every year, the day after Halloween, I swear that I will never ever, no matter what, eat candy again.
I typically break that oath two to three hours after I make it.
Have a fun and safe holiday – and may you collect LOTS of candy!