Happy Stormy Halloween and What to Do With Your Leftover Candy

Do you have enough treats?
Do you have enough treats? Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

click to enlarge Do you have enough treats? - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Do you have enough treats?
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Last Halloween, we Houstonians and other nearby residents, north and south, were still cleaning up our homes, businesses, and lives from that muthaflipper, Hurricane Harvey. My family was spared as the rain stopped just as the water was lapping the front door of our home. Many of our neighbors and friends weren't so fortunate.

My neighborhood took a huge hit, so the following Halloween seemed like a time to bring out the big guns candy-wise and spread a little cheer to the kids in our area. Unfortunately, that bitch Mother Nature had other plans and last year's night of tricks and treats turned out super soggy. I got about half the number of trick or treaters than usual, but they were rewarded for their efforts with twice as much candy. Depressingly, this year's forecast looks to be a drencher as well. Mother Nature has been in a bad mood for the past couple of years. I am not going to say it's climate change because I don't want the anti-environment, anti-science, anti-reason people's heads to spin around like Linda Blair's from The Exorcist. Nor do I need their projectile vomit spewed at me. So, I'll just say, it's a bummer to face another potential rain-soaked Halloween.

This here momma trolled the aisles at Kroger for the pre-Halloween sale and loaded up on candy at 50 percent off. I got Snickers. I got Reese's. I got Sour Patch Kids. Nothing gives me more joy than being the giver of cavities and tummy aches. It's only once a year and since my kids are now teens, I need my cute toddlers in lady bug costumes. I need my Spidermen and Black Panthers. I'll even give candy to the six-foot tall kid who says, " I'm dressed as a teenager". (I really got that one year. He received extra candy for honesty).

And now, it's supposed to rain on my parade of goblins and ghouls. I'll be stuck with Nerds and Sweet Tarts coming out of my ears. And I am not just talking about my friends. So what does one do when Texas floods threaten your holiday fun? What do you do with all that leftover candy? Here are a few ideas and tips to keep up your spirit(s).

click to enlarge If you open the candy, they will come. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
If you open the candy, they will come.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Don't underestimate the power of candy

Last year's tricks and treats was a real soaker and while I glumly Monster Mashed by myself and prepared for a super-light stream of kiddos, I actually had to pull myself away from my Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee horror marathon more than I expected. I opened my door to adorable Elsas and Batmen braving the rain. I figured they would be few and far between, so I loaded up the first round of trick or treaters with extra candy. Soon, I realized that the children of the candy corn would not be deterred by a little rainstorm. They'd lived through the Tax Day flood, the Memorial Day flood and Hurricane Harvey. These little troopers would pull out the john-boats if they had to. I eventually had to start rationing it a bit to leave some for the latecomers. And there will always be latecomers. One year, I had to resort to taking candy from my kids' haul and even offering bananas to the late night zombies.

Stop with the judgy-face

click to enlarge Enjoy your Halloweens while they last. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Enjoy your Halloweens while they last.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
I don't stop giving until 10 p.m. usually. I used to get a judgy face when people were bringing their toddlers out late on Halloween until I thought about all the people who work late hours and are just itching to get home to take their kids out for Halloween. Some parents get even more excited than their kids. There are only so many Halloweens that a parent gets to dress up their child as a princess or superhero or baby pumpkin. Trust me, your heart drops a little when your kids decide they are too old for trick or treating. Next it's college and then it's Cats in the Cradle and Sunrise, Sunset. So, have a little compassion for that parent that drove breakneck speed from work to take their kid out, hoping that just a few houses were still giving out treats.

And as Jef Rouner mentioned in his article here in the Houston Press, don't look askance at kids from other neighborhoods coming to your precious enclave. We are better than that.

And then, there are the teens. Some ogres think there should be an age limit for tricks or treats. In my Halloween playbook, if you're in costume, you get candy. Teenagers need that last bit of childhood before the harsh reality of paying for their own Kit Kats hits them. They could be doing worse things than lightening we grown-ups of a few useless calories.

Go beyond candy

No one wants to be the house that gives out mini boxes of raisins or pennies, though in my trick or treating days, anything was a bonus, including homemade popcorn balls.

However, I still buy a bag or two of  mandarins or tangerines to offer with the candy. I have had children choose the fruit over the candy. One kid ran down the street yelling, " That lady has Cuties!" At least, I think he said cuties. Maybe it was cooties.

click to enlarge Have a few somewhat healthy items on hand this Halloween. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Have a few somewhat healthy items on hand this Halloween.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Fruit snacks are another option, especially for toddlers. Just add a fun-size chocolate bar for the adults carrying them from house to house. They need the energy.

Last year, I had to nix my lemonade and water stand because of the rain. This year looks to be the same. However, during hot-as-Hell Halloweens, I usually offer the little demons something to drink.

click to enlarge There will be candy. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
There will be candy.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
It rained cats and dogs and now you've got a buttload of leftover candy

As a kid, leftover Halloween candy is not a problem. As adults heading toward the holiday season still carrying the ten extra pounds from last year's bacchanalia, leftover Twix and Milky Ways are the elephants in the room. Besides yourself. This is why I don't buy Paydays or Heath Bars to give out. I know my weaknesses.

Chocolate candy freezes well and some people prefer to eat it that way. If it's stuck in your freezer, it's out of sight. If it's sitting on the coffee table, you are going to scarf it down during your Real Housewives marathon.

Another way to get rid of leftover candy is to have a post-Halloween party. Invite those neighbors that you have been meaning to have over for the past ten years. Or at least bring them a goody bag of treats. Share the wealth. And the calories.

click to enlarge Nerds have lasting power. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Nerds have lasting power.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Non-chocolate candies like Sweet Tarts, Nerds and Starbursts have long shelf-lives. Check out the expiration dates. They are good until next Halloween. Seriously. That shit lasts a long time. And if you read the ingredients, you'll know why. High fructose corn syrup and sugar are big time preservatives. But let's not think about that. Halloween is a time for enjoying junk.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, Snickers and Mounds make great accents to cakes and desserts. Who wouldn't love chopped up Heath Bars or Almond Joys on top of their cheesecake? M&Ms are a great addition to cookie dough and add some festive holiday color.

If you have serious amounts of candy (unopened), you can add a bag or two to each box you make up for the food bank or shelters for the holidays. Sometimes, people who are suffering need a little more comfort food than a can of creamed corn.

click to enlarge There's always someone who will eat the crappy candy. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
There's always someone who will eat the crappy candy.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
And when you get down to the leftover candy that no one wants to eat, give it to Grandpa. He thinks Tootsie Rolls and Whoppers are delicious. Really.

The one thing you can't do with leftover Halloween candy is stick it in your kids' stockings for Christmas. If they see Dracula's face on a Snickers Bar, you have basically told them that there is no Santa Claus. Just a cheap parent trying to use up leftover Halloween candy.

So, there are our tips for a Happy Soggy Halloween. Be safe. Watch out for the little ones. And get ready for the holiday season.
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.