When I was a kid I remember coming home from my annual after-dark Halloween trip around the neighborhood and emptying the booty in my pillowcase, on top of the kitchen table, to see what I scored from my ghoulish trick-or-treating adventure.
Of course, most of my take was usually the typical Halloween fare like the miniature candy bars.
Every year, though, I also got a few unexpected items; some were really awesome Halloween treats — but others were not.
One year I even got a rock in my bag – just like Charlie Brown. I’m not kidding.
It’s a good thing I didn’t see that rock go in my sack when it was handed out though, or I promise you that bozo’s front yard would have looked like a winter-wonderland because I would have gone back and toilet-papered it later in the evening.
With that in mind, awhile back I surveyed my then-preteen kids, Matthew and Nina, to find out some of the worst stuff folks in our neighborhood have tossed in their Halloween bags over the years.
Although the kids never received any rocks, they did come up with a list of yucky “treats” they got that — as far as they’re concerned — were almost as bad.
Mints. The kids both remember the time somebody handed out Tic Tacs; I do too. Are you kidding me? Why not just hand out travel size tubes of toothpaste? According to Nina, “They’re not even candy, Dad!” She’s got a point, people. Save the mints for Christmas.
Mystery candy. Like most parents, the Honeybee and I go through our kids’ candy before they get the okay to eat it. Although we’ll usually let certain candies pass that are unlabeled but safe to eat, the kids have a different opinion. Nina refuses to eat candy she is not familiar with. Face it, kids are finicky; they do the same thing with vegetables.
Baby Ruth. Both kids agree that a Baby Ruth just has too many peanuts. That’s an understatement. I don’t care what you say; a Baby Ruth is not a candy bar, folks — it’s a peanut-industry research and development experiment gone awry. Besides, when most kids are really jonesing for peanuts, they’ll get their fix by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Jaw breakers. According to Nina, jawbreakers are just “too much work.” (Exercise has never been her thing.) If that isn’t bad enough, she also notes that the sour powdery finish that comes upon reaching the center of the jawbreaker is not her idea of fun either.
5-Flavor Life-Savers. My daughter says the biggest problem with 5-flavor Lifesavers is that the flavors don’t match the colors — to be specific, the red doesn’t taste like cherries and the purple doesn’t taste like grapes. I agree with her regarding the grape ones – whose idea was it to make grape candy taste the way it does? – but I’m not so sure about her assessment of the cherry. (By the way, for all you Life-Saver fans rolling your eyes over this selection, I never said this was a scientific assessment.)
Nerds. Really? Colored balls filled with sugary powder is not my kids’ idea of great candy. Mine neither.
Taffy. The biggest complaint with taffy — which includes taffy-like confections such as Tootsie Rolls — is that you’re supposed to stay away from it if you have braces. For kids with a mouth full of dental hardware, it can arguably be the cruelest treat of all.
Any candy with coconut. The consensus here is that coconut candy is good, but only in small quantities. Nina’s biggest complaint is that after she eats more than a couple, she has to give the rest away because the taste of coconut becomes too “overpowering.” I know. Peering into the mind of a child is one of life’s ultimate joys. By the way, my son definitely feels like a nut; Nina doesn’t. (If you’re under 35 and wondering what that last sentence is all about, go ask your Mom.)
Halloween pencils. Pencils taste bad and can put splinters in your tongue. But seriously, both kids agree the problem with pencils is that they usually get tossed in a drawer, unused, and never to be seen again.
Black licorice. When I was a kid black licorice was pretty darn popular. Nina says it tastes too much like rubber. I wonder if Goodyear knows about this.
Pretzels. Can we just give the healthy snacks a rest for one day? Please? What’s next — celery stalks? Matthew’s biggest complaint is that they’re usually stale. I’m talkin’ about the pretzels, not the celery.
Gum. Aside from the fact that kids with braces can’t chew it, Nina says she hates getting gum because, “It makes my mouth tired.” (See: Jaw breakers.) On top of that, from a kid’s perspective gum also has a troika of other bad traits: it loses its flavor too fast, you have to be careful how you get rid of it, and “it makes you more thirsty.”
Old Easter candy. I kid you not, folks; a few years ago both of my kids got chocolate bunnies in their Halloween bag. After all, nothing says “cheapskate” like recycled stale Easter candy. My kids knew exactly which house passed them out too. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Believe it or not, the next morning that home’s lawn was covered in toilet paper too.
What? Hey, now … Don’t look at me.
Photo Credit: narcosislabs
(This is an updated version of an article originally posted on October 20, 2010)