Halloween is huge in my neighborhood

Halloween is huge in my neighborhood. The front yards and porches are decorated weeks in advance. Cops direct traffic. And kids come in droves. There are literally thousands of trick-or-treaters.

As a result, you can get twenty years of experience handing out Halloween candy in one night. We have to invite people[1] over to help. Two benefactors “work” at a time – fifteen minute shifts. If you go any longer, you get cramps in your cheeks and shoulders. Your smile becomes plastered - like a four hour, single pose photo shoot. And the exchanges become forced and tired. As practice, repeat “Alright! Spider-man. Awesome. Happy Halloween.” 70 times in 15 minutes.

This year we handed out more than 3,000 pieces of candy. My father-in-law just happened to be in town last year for the first mistake-filled Halloween in our new house. So he kindly cut a deal with a “candy wholesaler”[2] and shipped us 40 pounds of sweets. In preparation, my husband and I had already bought over 1,000 pieces of candy during the early offseason.[3]

We thought my father-in-law’s candy contribution would be unneeded. We were wrong. There are six pieces of uneaten, wholesale “Kandy Aple Cheews” [sic] left. These KACs appear to have been manufactured somewhere deep in the third world. And for a very high profit margin. So we were hesitant to hand them out. When it became evident that they’d be needed, we drew straws[4] to see who would test them. I was sure the trail of discarded KACs leading back to our front porch would also lead potential plaintiffs directly to the source of their injury.

Matt (my husband) drew the short straw to test the candy. He said they were “surprisingly delicious – like a Sour Apple Jolly Rancher® injected into a caramel.” I suspected that this was a ruse. When he suggested that I try one, I KNEW it was a ruse. So I threw mine away. But since he did not cut his tongue or begin convulsing, we decided to hand them out. This gave us the necessary ammunition to stay out on the front porch and defend our homestead - from would-be trickers taking advantage of our lack of preparedness for their attack.[5] Standing out on the front porch without candy is worse than having the house destroyed. As practice, look your child in the eye and tell them “Sorry, no candy.” 70 times in 15 minutes.

So I’m sure you’re asking yourself, why we don’t board up the windows, turn off the porch light, turn on the alarm system and rope off the entire yard with police tape (some of our neighbors actually do this). Because believe it or not. It’s fun. If we locked ourselves in the house and turned off all the lights, I never would have heard, learned, listened to, or laughed at ....

Matt’s (my law school study partner) repartee with the treaters.

To every princess - “Love your hair. I hope you win.”

To every toddler superhero - Full origin histories, rankings on his list of all time faves and critiques on the accuracy of their costumes.

Matt: “Awesome. Spiderman.”
The kid: “I’m not Spiderman. I’m Peter Parker.”
Matt: “Then you need to take off your Spiderman mask.”
The kid: “Ok.” [timidly]

Matt: “Great Venom costume. But he doesn't carry a glow in the dark pirate sword and you need more muscles.”

To a Spiderman, Wolverine, Spiderman combo in succession.

Matt: “Spiderman. Great costume. Happy Halloween.”
Matt: “Wolverine. He’s my favorite. X-Men!”
[High Five after candy deposit]
Matt: “Did you hear what I said to the last kid?
[3rd kid nods]
Matt: “Good. Happy Halloween, Spiderman.”[6]

Nine different theories on who deserves “good” candy, “more” candy, “less” candy and who deserves KACs.

Some theories were more egalitarian. Matt (my husband) believes every treater gets two pieces of good candy until supplies run low. His friends would probably say this candy theory is a metaphor for his political beliefs and/or ignorance. But it would sound more like “Of course he does, that stupid hippie.”

Some were more merit based. My sister-in-law (MacKenzie) has a sliding scale of cuteness.

Substandard cuteness (most of the treaters) = 1 piece of nearby candy.
Cute = 1 piece of “good”[7] candy.
A cute toddler in a bedazzled animal costume = 2 handfuls of “good” candy and a piece of homemade fried chicken.

And some people were willing to start fights with treaters to defend their candy beliefs. Genevieve has a strongly held (and common) belief to minimize handouts to un-costumed teenagers. One such teenager tried to “double dip.” He came to me first. One KAC. He moved on to Gen and held open his CVS bag with a knowing smirk to Gen’s twitchless stare. He thought she would give in just to avoid conflict and keep the line moving. But he was wrong. When Gen put down the candy bowl and started to stand up, he quickly turned and left. He was still looking over his shoulder when he got to the sidewalk – making sure that she wasn’t coming after him. That kid probably peed on my bushes in the early morning hours of November 1st. But I’ll still log that as a win.

Now that I think about it, you should hand out Halloween candy with everyone you know. It’s like a social experiment.

Matt (my husband) after 8 beers.

One of the mothers was directing four children through the line. When one of hers got to the front of the line she’d say “[Insert Name] say ‘Trick or Treat’” then “[Insert Name] say ‘Thank You.’” The first three kids all obediently repeated her lines.

The last kid was taking his time. He was obviously in trouble for disobeying the commands at previous stops. But he still didn’t want to bend to his mother’s structured beg and curtsy. So he mumbled something under his breathe. My husband handed him his candy. And the kid sprinted off without saying thanks. His mother straightened up, pointed to the spot immediately in front of her feet and screamed down the street at him. “Get back here and say ‘Thank You’.”

From two houses down we could hear a faint “thank you”. My husband confidently yelled in response “You’re welcome, Yo Yo.” The mother doubled over in laughter, pointing over her shoulder and screaming to her friends “He called him Yo Yo.”

Apparently the child’s name was [eye – yo]. I have no idea how to spell it. But please feel free to call my husband Yo Yo the next time you see him.

The costumes.

Of course, this is the point. You pay the treaters with candy for entertainment. And we got more than our money's worth. Some inappropriate – mom wearing a sexy nurse costume (with thigh highs and stripper heels) while carrying her 3 month old baby (with a bottle in its mouth) around to trick or treat. Some bizarre – an entire sullen family in very authentic looking prison jumpers and the father in a warden costume. Tons of cute – babies and toddlers smiling ear to ear wearing animal costumes.

And some hilarious. Please understand that I am in no way making fun of this adorable little girl in the pictures below. Her parents knew the costume was funny. They intended it to be. And they were happy for her to pose for pictures. This is J Lo.

JLo and her chaperon now know the heavily guarded secret spices used in my husband’s legendary fried chicken. They never even smelled a KAC.

I can’t wait until next year.

[1] There were ten people holding the fort – Me (and if I drew the short straw I was going to make my husband do it anyway), Matt (my husband), my sister-in-law (MacKenzie), her husband (Aaron), my in laws (Nanny Presh and Orvis), Keith (one of our college friends who lives on a less trafficked nearby street), his wife (Genevieve), Matt (my study partner and good friend from law school) and his partner (Brendan). We were supplied with the aforementioned Halloween candy; 1 ½ cases of Miller Lite; two bottles of wine; 8 or so loose single, undesirable beers; a box of wine/2 liter of Fresca (read Granny’s Wine Spritzer); and two huge trays of my husband’s Legendary Fried Chicken.

[2] I asked my husband how my father-in-law knew a candy wholesaler and he just laughed. Do you think this “wholesaler” is selling candy door-to-door on oil rigs? I need answers.

[3] Offseason = discount. The candy may not be (is not) “fresh”. But we’re not eating it. While we did not buy this candy at Big Lots on November 1, 2009, we have learned some skills of thrift from Classy and her Dad.

[4] This was like the moment at the Alamo when they chose the person to ride out past the Mexican army to request reinforcements for fiftieth time. Of course, I’m not sure that this happened at the Alamo. All I know about the Alamo I learned during a field trip tour and I was more focused on which keepsake trinket I was going to buy at tour’s end. Now I should have learned this in school. But I paid little to no attention to Texas History in 7th grade. My teacher gave me a “0” on an assignment for failing to color in a Texas map the first week of class. So I tuned her out for the rest of the year. When she told the class that driving an American car was “patriotic”, I was sure she was a kook. And I felt reinforced in my decision to use this class time to teach myself how to skillfully use paint pens and bubble letters.

[5] Last year, we ran out of candy in an hour. So people assumed we were not home. Our front yard became the congregating place for people trying to get out of the swarm of humanity. The next morning, our yard was covered in candy wrappers, soda bottles, dirty diapers, baby bottles and teenage delinquent refuse (half-smoked butts, aged but fully wrapped condoms and Adderall).

[6] It should be noted here that Matt (my study partner) should automatically be cast into the Halloween Hall of Fame. Not only were these exchanges constant and original, his stamina was incredible. He pulled a triple shift without blinking an eye.

[7] No one disputed that “good” candy is name brand chocolate. Everything else is methadone for sugar junkies.


  1. Where is the picture of the JLo? Stupid Hippie...love it. Totally different up here in the burbs. We just put out our basket of candy while we walked the kids around and it still had candy in it when we got home.

  2. Loves!! I declare this the best HFGBC post yet!!! PS - thanks for the footnote shoutout! PSS - how come every shoutout I ever get also references Biglots!? Single tear.

  3. Amazing and inspirational. I will be there next year with newish baby in super cute costume. Please consider this my reservation and mark the books.

  4. I want some of your rich candy! I love the details, HB!!!