Bottom Five Halloween "Treats," or How to Guarantee an Egging
I'm not sure what I liked best about Halloween: the candy itself, or the inevitable back-room, black-market bartering that went on after the fact. Into the wee hours following Halloween, my brothers and I would sit on the rug in our bedroom, candy piled in front of us like Smaug in his mountainous treasury, and swap. "I'll give you three bags of Skittles for every full-size Snickers," I might offer; I always preferred my sweets balanced with a bit of salt. The brother in question would counter, extracting a handful of Smarties to sweeten the pot.
We all had our preferences, and everyone spent time trying to unload their least favored items. No matter how we finagled or cajoled, no matter what else we included in the deal, we always ended up stuck with our respective piles of off-brand fruit chews and unpleasant jellies, the names of different wines written on them in bas-relief. They formed a part of what seems to be a universally reviled list of items handed out by spinsters, hippies, and that creepy guy on the corner where all the cats of the neighborhood seemed to congregate, before mysteriously disappearing. I took an unofficial and very loosely structured survey, and came up with this master list of the worst offenders of crappy Halloween loot. If you've ever given any of these out, you deserved the inevitable tee-peeing, egging or, from those more devious neighborhood youngsters, the Life Saver on the windshield.
The only thing to do is amass enough to build a Scrooge McDuck-esque change pool. Right?
5. Pennies The only reason these aren't higher (lower?) on this list is the fact that I lived near an honest-to-god Five and Dime store, which sold actual penny candy. The ability to get a handful of something sweet, and pay for it out of my own pocket, helped dull the sting of having that something sweet be a bunch of crappy licorice pastilles.
4. Fruit When I discussed this with my family, I was taken to task for including fruit on the list. My nine-year-old was almost offended ("fruit is delicious, Daddy"), but I stand by the placement. Halloween is supposed to be about getting your hands on what is normally considered contraband. If you have to trade most of the rest of your lunch in exchange for it in the average fourth-grade cafeteria, it's in. Nobody ever offered a cup of pudding, a bag of potato chips, and half of their PB&J for a mealy apple.
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