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October 28, 2011

What do you call someone who is a Grinch about Halloween? Because that’s me.

It didn’t always used to be this way. I loved the holiday through my college years. In fact, Mrs. Fussy and I met at a college Halloween party. But for over a decade I’ve tried to avoid the holiday as much as possible. And let me tell you, that’s not easy with two young kids.

For the past two years, we’ve been out of town, so that helped. It was a logical argument that we can’t trick-or-treat in a hotel. And to make it up to the kids, I gave Young Master Fussy $10 to spend on candy at Walmart a few days after Halloween. By then the candy was marked down so deeply, he had trouble spending the whole thing. I think he ended up with over ten pounds of his favorite hand-selected candies.

Everyone wins.

This year it’s different. I’ve got to give out candy to the kids who may or may not show up at our door. As much as this annual ritual that is now firmly based in our consumer culture galls me, I’ve decided to play along and actually hand out candy to the local urchin children who parade by my door in search of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and chocolate harvested by children much like themselves on the other side of the world.

So what’s going to be in my candy bowl?

One thing was clear, I was not going to buy one of those pre-made sampler packs of candy at the store. They bundle a variety of brands all produced by the same manufacturer, so when kids arrive at your door, they will have a choice of four or more different things.

I don’t want to spend that much time with the kids who show up. I want them to take their candy and leave. But I still think they should have a choice. Variety is important, and I want to be sensitive to allergies and all that rot.

It’s also not going to be something my parents would have made me throw away.

Back in the day, the authorities would tell kids that hard candy, fruit, or anything homemade could contain razor blades or other dangerous contaminants. I remember that hospitals would even x-ray your candy for you, just to make sure there were no sharp metal objects lurking within.

When you hear things like this as a kid, it really sticks with you. Maybe parents today aren’t concerned about such things. Maybe in Albany this all sounds overly paranoid and overprotective. But if the kids come back with homemade cookies or apples, and I don’t know the middle name of the person who supplied them, they are going in the trash.

Those are strong words for someone who cannot normally abide waste.

I’m also not convinced people will actually come to our door. It’s not the most visible door from the street. I do like my privacy, and I’m not lining the freaking driveway with lights or pumpkins to try and draw kids to my house so I can give them candy and pretend to admire their costumes.

That said, any candy in my bowl has to be good enough for me to eat on November 1.

If you’ve been a long time reader, you may recall that my favorite supermarket candy is Twix. So I picked up some of those as the chocolate candy. Yes, there’s probably a bit of child slavery in them, but it’s just enrobed in chocolate. A Twix is mostly cookie and caramel.

The big question is what candy is a good juxtaposition for Twix. The answer is individual wrapped snack size Twizzlers. New Yorkers may not believe this, but Twizzlers are not the defacto red licorice on the West Coast. Out there it’s Red Vines. Whereas Twizzlers are pleasantly waxy, Red Vines are hard and plasticky. Unless you grew up eating Red Vines, they are a poor substitute for Twizzlers.

In fact, it was hard to even find Twizzlers out west, so I’m very glad to be back in a place that is rich with the red licorice of my youth.

They actually aren’t all that bad for you. Each piece only contains about 26 calories, there’s no high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. The major ingredients are corn syrup, wheat flour, sugar and cornstarch. Naturally these are reinforced with artificial flavor, colors and preservatives.

Now that I think of it, any kids who come to my door with wheat allergies will be out of luck. Drat. It’s totally impossible to balance everyone’s needs these days.

I know mine aren’t being met.

One of my biggest pet peeves is that Halloween is on October 31. It’s not tonight. Tonight’s the 28th. It’s not Saturday night either. If you want to get dressed up in a costume, go right ahead, but don’t think for an instant that you are celebrating Halloween. Because you’re not. Halloween’s on Monday. Google it, it’s true.

But I think my kids may don their own costumes twice this weekend. Mrs. Fussy has to work late on Monday, so she’s going to do one of these community events sometime over the weekend with the children. They are going to love it. I will be patient, and accommodating.

However it’s teaching the kids a very dangerous lesson about the nature of holidays.

Finally, Halloween cocktails are notoriously bad. PLEASE don’t succumb to crimes against cocktails. Check out all the brilliant drinks written up over the last several days by my friends at the 12 Bottle Bar. These people are very much into the Halloween spirit, and have outdone themselves this year.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    October 28, 2011 9:39 am

    The advantage of living in a locked condo bldg. . .

  2. colleen (with a little c) permalink
    October 28, 2011 10:09 am

    reese’s peanut butter cups were always my favorite halloween handout. so, in the spirit of Halloween i was thinking of getting a bottle of chocolate vodka and peanut butter vodka and making myself a drunketty drunk adult peanutbutter cup beverage to sooth myself while watching “Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”– “on demand”. i anticipate that getting the ratio fo chocolate vodka to peanutbutter vodka will take several attempts…”darn”.

  3. October 28, 2011 1:03 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the Halloween posts! They’ve been a long of fun, although I don’t know how you blog everyday.

    I’ll take the liberty of disagreeing with you on the Twizzler vs. Red Vine front. The key to Red Vines, though, is opening the package and letting the dry out. They’re only edible after the churn of the first half life cycle.

    Have a great Halloween!

  4. October 28, 2011 4:40 pm

    Wow, what a sourpuss. You can be glad me and my crew are not trick or treating in your hood this coming Monday.

    In my family Halloween is celebrated as the one day the kids can and should eat junk candy to the point where they become sugar sated and nauseated. The more HFCS the better.

    I am liking Halloween in Saratoga a lot better than Halloween in San Francisco. There, the trick or treaters were often packs of teenagers seeking money. Here, the adults are served libations to steel them against the cold and I am glad to have discovered this charming custom of “booing” someone by leaving a sack of candy on their doorstep, ringing the door and driving away. Actually people left bags on doorsteps out there too but there wasn’t usually candy in them.

  5. October 29, 2011 5:09 pm

    Your strategy is the opposite of mine. I stock up with candy that I don’t want to eat on Nov. 1 so I don’t feel so bad about throwing it away.

  6. Elyse permalink
    October 30, 2011 9:32 am

    Ugh- Red Vines are so terrible

  7. October 30, 2011 12:41 pm

    I’ve never been a big candy fan. Or, rather, no. I learned, later in life, that I do like candy – Lindor truffles, Bissengers, Ghiradelli, etc. I’m not a big fan of the Halloween candy. Malted Milk Balls (i.e., Whoppers) and Kit Kats were my favorites as a kid, though sadly there was never enough of those (that is, I did not collect them at every house). I do have a soft spot for M&Ms, too, but that’s less about the taste and more about childhood memories.

    Anyway. For me, it was more about trick-or-treating than it was about eating candy afterward. That wasn’t what made it fun. Dressing up was the fun part. I still enjoy doing that, though I will say that “adult” halloween parties are generally less-than-fun. They’re bad booze fests that tend toward annoying at best.

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