Remember Halloween of yesteryear? Those decades when costumes weren't necessarily slutty and Oreo cookies came in one variety? Probably not, unless you're a Baby Boomer. If you've ever wondered what America's favorite October holiday (sorry, Columbus) was like in the 1940s and 1950s, here are five Halloween treats of yesteryear.
5. Homemade Popcorn Balls. In recent years, this confection has re-emerged in fancy form thanks to the increased popularity of gourmet popcorn. But the corn spheres handed out to trick-or-treaters during World War II were considerably less glamorous (due in part to rationed ingredients) yet still delicious in their simplicity.
4. (Caramel/Candy) Apples. The parentheses reflect the fact that during the leaner war years, plain old fruit was the best people could offer to neighborhood children. In more prosperous times (the 1950s, when being a responsible wife/mother meant slaving away making homemade caramel), gussied-up apples became more of the norm.
3. Dubble Bubble. In the early twentieth century, Dubble Bubble was truly America's chewing gum and was even included in military rations during WWII. As sugar became widely available again in the postwar years, the gum became one of the favorite candies of the 1950s generation, especially when the Dubble Bubble company began hosting national bubble-blowing contests.
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2. Money. Don't get too jealous, we're talking nickels and dimes, not $20 bills. In 1950, the United Nations Children's Fund inaugurated its "trick or treat" fund-raising program. Thousands of orange boxes were handed out to eager trick-or-treaters who then lobbied their neighbors for loose change. The program continues today in the United States, but my cynical self wonders how many kids are collecting anything but candy for themselves.
1. Hershey's Miniatures. When candy finally became the "obvious" treat for Halloween (thanks to mass marketing and increased print advertising), Hershey's was the chocolate of choice for many Americans. While kisses were (and remain) extremely popular for their "cuteness" factor, the variety of the Milk Chocolate, Special Dark, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar tetrad was hard to beat.