I don’t know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids.  — Robert Brault

 Halloween is tomorrow. “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”

  Which is to say, “CANDY!”

I don’t know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids.  — Robert Brault

 Halloween is tomorrow. “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”

  Which is to say, “CANDY!”

 A little research revealed that, before the 1940s, most Americans had never heard of trick-or-treat. Trick-or-treat caught on after World War II. Typical treats were not candy but popcorn balls, nuts, apples, and coins.

 According to candyprofessor.com, Life magazine doesn’t have any ads for candy that mention trick-or-treat before the October 26, 1953 issue that said “Treat the Kids this Halloween with Dubble Bubble.” The accompanying drawing features a woman handing gum to a pack of costumed kids.

 Mars, Inc. ran an ad the next year promoting the “Haunting Flavor” of its “three layer treat.” The image shows a ghost eating a Milky Way. Other products pitched trick-or-treat as an occasion to spread their own kind of goodness. The October 25, 1954 issue of Life included a Kellogg’s ad for cereal Snack-Paks  that reads “Sweet treats for little kids!” and shows a woman handing a box of Frosted Flakes to the trick or treaters. In 1959, the October 26 Life issue featured trick-or-treat theme ads for Hawaiian Punch, Kool Aid and, get this, Dutch Masters Cigars! (costumed kids hold a cigar box out to dad: “No trick…all treat”).

 Candy producers also began coming out with “mini” treats around this time, but although they were “miniature” compared to regular size, kids in those days were getting a “mini” about three times the size of today’s Halloween “fun size” minis.

 Growing up in the Republic of Frontenac in the 1950s and 60s, pranks were as common on Halloween as trick or treating.
Teachers who were disliked or curmudgeons who didn’t answer the trick-or-treaters knock at the front door might get their windows soaped or house splattered with eggs.

Some took it to another level by putting human feces in a paper bag, placing it on some unsuspecting person’s doorstep, and then setting the bag afire before knocking or ringing the bell. When the homeowner came to the door he or she found the small bag burning and their first response was to stomp out the fire.

Another common prank was to knock over or move a person’s outhouse half way up the block. Such activities could be dangerous, though. From time to time a privy owner might fire rabbit shot into the behinds of fleeing pranksters — or move the outhouse off the hole themselves on Halloween night before the pranksters arrived causing them to fall into the stinking pit.

Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

 Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

 At first glance, the Mexican custom of El Día de los Muertos — the Day of the Dead — may sound much like the U.S. custom of Halloween. After all, the celebration traditionally starts at midnight the night of Oct. 31, and the festivities are abundant in images related to death.

 But the customs have different origins, and their attitudes toward death are different: In the typical Halloween festivities, death is something to be feared. But in El Día de los Muertos, death — or at least the memories of those who have died — is something to be celebrated.

 Specifics of the El Día de los Muertos celebration vary with region, but one of the most common customs is the making of elaborate altars to welcome departed spirits home. Vigils are held, and families often go to cemeteries to fix up the graves of their departed relatives. Festivities also frequently include traditional foods such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead), which can conceal a miniature skeleton.

 Returning to the subject of candy, I found a website titled myscienceproject.com that actually measured whether a 5 gallon bucket, a brown paper grocery sack, or a standard pillowcase would hold the most assorted trick-or-treat mini size candies. The results: grocery sack 25 lbs., 885 pieces; 5 gallon bucket 20 lbs., 675 pieces; pillow case 47.75 lbs., 1690 pieces.

 They also calculated you would have to visit about 1352 houses to fill a pillowcase or 540 houses to fill a 5 gallon bucket.

 The site gave no predictions on what might happen should you pull off a pillowcase full of candy on Halloween, and you actually consumed all those Snickers, Mars Bars, Milk Duds, Dots, Skittles, and Tootsie Pops, etc.
My guess is that if not experiencing El Día de los Muertos by November 2nd  … you’ll certainly be observing El Día de la Diarrea.
J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Wellness Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net.