When Halloween Candy Turned to Copper
Some people are naturally good at Halloween, some aren’t. I don’t mind saying I, personally, suck at it and always have. That may be, in part, due to my upbringing. No one in my family really took it seriously.
I always had the crappy costume in a box that ripped after you hit three houses leaving my ass exposed to the fall chill while I made my candy demand rounds. Those costumes always included a mask with such sharp edges you looked like one of Freddy Krueger’s victims by the time you returned home.
I lived in a massive garden apartment complex in Queens, N.Y., that outer borough of New York City people in other boroughs kissed off as “out on the island,” meaning Long Island. No matter Brooklyn is also on Long Island, but that’s another battle for another day.
My street was one of three that intersected at a single point, meaning you could hit literally hundreds of apartments just by walking around. I’d score so much candy I’d have to make periodic stops at home to dump my bag. Bad move!
While I was on my next round my parents were picking through my stash keeping the good stuff and pulling aside what they deemed the losers—Mary Janes, marshmallow peanuts, Smarties, candy corn.
Oh no, they weren’t going to eat them. What was going on was a scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff. Instead of actually buying candy, they skimmed my sugar proceeds to dump in some other poor kid’s bag.
Like any pyramid scheme, the perps eventually either tap out or get busted. In my parent’s case, once the supply of their ill-gotten goodies was depleted they had to come with something, anything, to satisfy the treat or treaters.
That’s when things got ugly. My father would call for the extreme, and always, unsuccessful, backup plan—the Boston bean pot. It was way up high in the cupboard when they kept their booze, collection of swizzle sticks and matches. Indeed, the bean pot never made an appearance until late on Halloween night when the door bell still rang but the pile of pilfered candy evaporated.
But no one panicked. The Boston bean pot was moved near the door. When the next group of goblins arrived and demanded satisfaction my father gave them a big smile…reached into the bean pot, pulled out a penny and tossed it in the poor kid’s bag.
The bean pot held the ultimate booby prize– hundreds of pennies, saved all year long just for Halloween.
One kid just stood stock still and stared expecting the penny was just a down payment on something better, until an older kid who’d suffered similar disappointment at our door advised the tyke, “may as well move on. That ‘s all you’re fuckin’ getting here.” The little kid therefore learning a new lesson and a new word.
My brother and I tried to explain the penny thing wasn’t working and would certainly lead to some sort of Halloween retribution in the form of eggs on our door or windows, or us getting whacked with crushed colored chalk stuffed in a sock leaving our clothes and faces with clear signals we’d committted some heinous Halloween crime. Hey! It wasn’t us…it was our parents! Tough gezatz, as they’d say back then.
Once I grew up, got married and had kids I made sure we not only had candy in the house, but tons of it! We never ran out. In fact, we always had extra by the time Halloween ended, which is why we always bought stuff we all liked—Kit Kats, Twix, M&Ms—because we’d be snacking on that sugar all year long till we replenished our supply for the next Halloween.
Oh no…we would not be using coinage to conceal our bad planning and we certainly never stole our kids’ candy. I did tell them the story of my father, the bean pot and the pennies, to which they responded quite earnestly, “you do that, Dad, and our relationship is over.”
But damn, now what am I gonna go with all those pennies? I do have some spare nickels…hmm…
Don’t Be So Quick to Shuck Candy Corn
I know there are plenty of weighty things on everyone’s minds, but a recent story I read in the Detroit Free Press has me really bewildered. I can only describe it as a misinformed, unfair and disappointing diatribe against a completely innocent element of long-standing tradition. Have you read it? I’m actually still reeling from the vicious attack on something that has a potential lifespan longer than obsidian and just as impenetrable. Yes…we’ve all found some in the folds and recesses of our trick or treat bags, car seats and oral cavities.
Yes, in this period of social and political polarity, let’s come together on the benefits and joys that can only be derived from one diminutive source: candy corn.
Sure, the multicolored confection will rot your teeth and expand your gut but man, that’s so half-empty. Let’s start with the whole teeth rotting thing. So what? Your natural choppers erode from the twin forces of attempting to chew the unchewable and being bathed in pure sugar? No problem. Skip the dentist, reach into the bag and as fast as you can say “high deductible” you’ve got an entirely new set and you’ve avoided the cost and pain of the traditional substitutes. Besides, orange and yellow are so much more fun than the boring all white. It’s 2020 man! The year where normal doesn’t exist.
Now let’s address those who advocate for the Second Amendment. Personally, I’m not a gun guy. When I was in the Boy Scouts I was so bad at the shooting range I could use the same paper target over and over again. Not even close. For sure, the targets were safe. Not so sure about my troop mates. Now, be open-minded about this. Swap those hollow-points for Brachs white tips.
Instead of putting holes in a person or animal, they might merely cause an annoying welt before disintegrating. I think that amounts to reasonable stopping power in self-defense situations. I imagine any charges filed would have be reduced from those related to using a “deadly weapon” to merely “firing fattening projectiles.” The use of candy corn rounds won’t provide meat on your table but I find the best hunting in the wild aisles of Costco anyway.
Personally, I always keep a few bags of the stuff in my workshop. Candy corns are small and strong enough for use as shims and for temporarily filling holes in drywall until I can get around to spackling them. The added advantage is, when they’ve outlived their utilitarian uses you can just pop ’em in your mouth—no waste. I love the environment!
An important consideration when discussing sweets is the mess factor. Candy corn doesn’t make one because they don’t melt like chocolate or marshmallow. In fact, they’re fairly indestructible. Little known fact—candy corn is a favorite among those carrying out testing of thermonuclear devices due to their ability to withstand blistering temperatures. The folks I’ve spoken to who work in that field really appreciate the quick jolt candy corn provides after a hard day of testing the stuff that could result in the end of humanity. Come to think of it, eating too much candy corn could pretty much be anyone’s final meal.
All I know is, as a kid growing up in Queens, I never turned my nose up when a neighbor tossed a bag of candy corn in my trick or treat bag. Maybe that’s because I knew they were awesome slingshot projectiles, I could use them as little door stops or to terrorize my parents by sticking a bunch in my mouth, getting my brother to play act that he was slugging me in the face and then I spit them out as if he broke all my teeth. Fun! As a parent I’ve been repaid for my idiocy many times over. Wouldn’t change a thing.
So don’t discount the value of much maligned candy corn. Sure, it tastes like sugary wax but as Jerry Seinfeld once told his father when he thought The Wizard personal digital assistant was merely a tip calculator…….
Campaign Candy….If Trick or Treating Told the Story
Updated October 31, 2015
Instead of debates, I think we’d see the true measure of the Presidential candidates through their trick or treating techniques, since an important aspect of being an effective politician is begging for handouts.
Here’s how I imagine it going down.
Hillary Clinton: “Trick or Treat! I’m counting on a fair appropriation of your sugary assets to sweeten my bulging campaign treasure chest and add to the goodies my party and I already promise to re-distribute once I’m elected.”
Donald Trump: “Are you a moron? This is no comic book trick or treat! You hand me minuscule Hershey Kisses when someone of my immense business acumen and ego is worthy of no less than a king sized Kit Kat bar. When I’m President losers like you and anyone with a foreign accent will be choking on M&Ms while true Americans will be dining on Snickers and Toblerones! In fact, I intend to build a wall around your lousy subdivision!”
Jeb Bush: “Trick or treat….please. My costume? Oh…I’m supposed to be masquerading as a viable candidate for President. At this point any donation will be appreciated. By the way, unlike my opponent Marco Rubio, I show up EVERY Halloween to beg for candy.”
Marco Rubio: “Hey, Bush Boy, you didn’t complain when John McCain missed a few Halloweens. Besides..t’s getting late. My mom says I have to get home, but could you toss in a Milky Way?”
Dr. Ben Carson: Person at door: “What? What? Speak up man!” Carson: “Hey! That’s a ‘gotcha question!’ But if you insist, I’m here in hopes you might toss a bon bon or two in my bag. I firmly believe any variety of violent war crimes and the attempt to exterminate a race could have been avoided if the victims came supplied with Tootsie Rolls rather than Mary Janes. I’m sure you see the logic in that.”
Bernie Sanders: Doesn’t solicit sweets. Knocks on doors and gives out free candy to anyone who wants it.