As an adult, I just can’t get behind Halloween. Sure, I go to costume parties almost every year, but the holiday just doesn’t have the same allure for me that it has for many others who start getting excited about it when September rolls around (my husband is included in this bunch). As a kid, it’s a time to play dress-up and beg for the candy you’ve been deprived of all year — and then eat it with reckless abandon until you either fall into a diabetic coma or your parents come to their senses and take it away.
But some of the “candy” — well, it was absolutely useless. Mere filler in our trick-or-treat bags (yes, we used bags. I believe they glowed in the dark, too). Here’s the worst of the worst, from what my poor memory allows me to remember.
The Crappiest Halloween “Treats” of the 1980s
Necco Wafers. If I wanted a chalky, near-tasteless wafer, I’d go to church and receive communion! C’mon, now.
100 Grand. In my entire life, I’ve never seen anyone go out to the store and pick up a 100 Grand bar of their own volition. This nasty candy only comes out of the woodwork at Halloween — probably because it’s on sale and people are trying to buy the cheapest candy they can find.
Mary Janes. What were these? I don’t think I ever ate one — I knew they weren’t chocolate! Wikipedia tells me it’s a taffy-like “candy” made of molasses and peanut butter. And… wait for it… they’re made by NECCO. Well, that explains it.
Chunky. A hunk of chocolate (so far, so good) with peanuts AND raisins. #candyfail
A stack of pennies — wrapped in tape. We had a neighbor up the street who was nice enough, but when it came to trick-or-treaters, she decided handing out pennies was the way to go. But we had to give her props for taking the time to put them in nice little stacks kept together with Scotch tape.
Circus peanuts. I’m pretty certain I received some of these, loose, on one or two Halloweens. Ew.
Apples. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just plain ol’ apples — not even the candied kind. If we wanted healthy snacks, would we be out begging for candy? Luckily for us, all those myths (and some actual instances here in New Jersey) of sickos putting razorblades and pins in apples saved us from this Halloween indignity.
Boxes of raisins. Same thing as the apples. I put raisins on my cereal as a kid, so they had a healthy connotation. These were also left in the trick-or-treat bag to rot.
Treats I loved
Rollerball pens. Back in the 80s, I thought this was a super-cool alternative to candy. I didn’t know this neighbor well, so I don’t know what he did for a living. Maybe he was a dentist and abhorred the idea of giving out sweets. No matter his reasoning, I applaud his ingenuity, and love this type of pen to this day.
Bags of chips. Further up the street, about 2 blocks away, was the house where they gave out the snack-size bags of chips. Naturally, by nature of their larger size (but not weight, of course), we thought we hit the jackpot. To this day, this family owns a popular grease truck from which they sell hot dogs and these blessed bags of potato chip goodness.
Full-size candy bars. Perhaps these neighbors were just trying to outdo the rest of the block, but as kids, we thought they were the bee’s knees.
I’m sure some of you can scare up some horror stories about your Halloween trick-or-treat booty. Let’s hear ’em!