October was the best time of the year to be a kid. Here you are, eight years old and minding your own business. You’re just getting used to the new school year and you’ve figured out which classes are fun, and which are tremendously boring. You’re home life, which once held nothing but the carefree days of summer, has evolved into a daily grind of waking up early, eating a bowl of cereal, getting ready for school, and then the eight hour grind of classes, recess, lunch and bus rides.
Then October comes along, and people start giving you candy. Candy! For Free! All you have to do is dress up in a costume and knock upon a few doors.
In school, teachers would provide candy. The weekend before Halloween there would be a community parade where the local businesses would provide all participants under the age of 13 a bag full of candy. Then, on Halloween itself, you would go door to door to collect even more candy! All of the people who caused you such grief the rest of the year would suddenly just give you free sweets. For an eight year old, Halloween was the pinnacle of the Holidays.
On November 1st, each Halloween participant had a treasure trove of sweets. And if they were like me, they would divide the candy that they had acquired into three categories: The coveted; the acceptable; and the tradable.
The coveted was the candy that you would not give up to anyone. For me this included the Snickers bars and the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Three Musketeer bars were also part of this mix as long as they weren’t fun sized. I also coveted the Milky Way bars and would finagle trades to create a small stash of them that I had hoped to keep until Thanksgiving. M&M’s, both plain and peanut were highly coveted items in our home.
The acceptable were things like full packs of bubble gum, York Peppermint Patties, and the Peter Paul contingency of Almond Joys and Mounds bars. These were the candies that one could either eat or trade, it mattered not. If added to a trade, these would almost always gaurantee a coveted bar in return.
The tradeable pile consisted of candies that were left unwanted. These were the Chuckles of the world, the Jujubees and the sugar free gums. These were almost immediately given away when the parents said you had to share with the siblings who were unable to get out for Halloween, either because of their young age, or because of an unfortunate illness. A child could give their younger brother or sister a box of Sweet Tarts or a roll of Smarties (the powdered sugar Smarties, not the M&M knock offs) and earn some gratitude from the parents without actually giving up anything of worth from the candy stash.
Sadly, it was the coveted pile that was consumed first. For all of the promises to have a Milky Way Bar at Thanksgiving, it seemed as if all of them had been eaten by November 2nd. If any candy made it Thanksgiving at all, it was the Candy Corn, a sweet so horrible, so tasteless, that I know of no one who looks upon them with fond remembrance. If anything, Candy Corn’s only purpose was to mock our lack of candy discipline.