Halloween is the greatest. We all get a free pass to scare each other, stuff our faces with candy, and dress up as the weirdest thing we can imagine. What’s not to like!
Perhaps the most classic element is the part where we knock on strangers’ doors and ask them to give us candy. Somehow this has survived our increasingly paranoid culture (in some neighborhoods). And lately I’ve noticed that in my early 30’s I’m eating more Halloween candy than I have in years!
So what do I owe this mini candy-renaissance? I steal my kid’s candy.
And it got me thinking about how every year of my life, for various reasons, my Halloween candy intake changes. So I did what any reasonable person would do: I made a graph.
Here’s what’s going on:
As expected, the early years start at zero candy consumption due to lack of teeth and of general awareness. But then around 3, your parents give you some licks of a sucker, and then things start to pick up. You turn 4, 5, 6 and you start really grasping the Pavlovian concept of *knock on door* *receive candy*
7-12 are the golden years. Year by year you become more aware of the neighborhood layout as well as which houses give out the King Sized candy bars. You wear a costume that you can run in, so that you waste no time between those golden hours of designated trick or treating. By year 11 or 12 you may have even scouted out your friends’ neighborhoods and found out the best route in the best neighborhood with the tenants who say “take as much as you’d like”. Life is good.
And then at 13 something starts happening. It starts to become less cool to trick or treat, so you tag along with younger siblings or neighbor kids. People start giving you the eye that says, “aren’t you getting a little old for this?” The unthinkable begins to happen: you discover that on the night of trick or treating you could be doing other things like a Halloween party or homework. And so the Halloween candy consumption dwindles bit by bit (though it is still supplemented by generous English teachers and petty theft from your little sister’s candy bucket).
You’re at college and the exams and romance and parties distract you from the true meaning of Halloween (candy). Plus, most people living in your vicinity (other students) don’t have money to buy candy to give to people who knock on their door. And so trick or treating becomes a thing of the past. Until…
Kidless Homeowner Year 1 (Age 25ish)
At some point you get a job, get married, and settle down into a neighborhood. (we’ll say you’re 25). And then that first Halloween something happens that catches you totally off guard. The doorbell rings, and you open it, and standing there is a cute little dinosaur and her ninja older brother looking up at you with wide expectant eyes and a plastic orange pumpkin. They say trick or treat, and you apologetically utter an excuse and then turn off your lights and ignore the doorbell for the rest of the night. You depressingly realize that the pied piper has come calling and it’s time to give back all that candy to society that you’ve leeched out of it.
Kidless Homeowner Year 2+
The next year you’re ready. And boy are you ready. You’ve already decided that you’re not going to be a tootsie roll and milk dud house. No, you’re springing for the all-chocolate Reeses, Kit Kat, Snickers mega bag and you will earn the respect of those neighborhood kids. And for the first time your Halloween candy intake moves up. Because sitting at your door with all those Kit Kats takes a toll on you, and naturally you need to scarf down a dozen or so pieces to get through the night.
You have a Kid! (Age 30ish)
You’ve come full circle, and now you’re taking your kid around the neighborhood and taking video each time they mutter some form of “trick or treat” and reach their little paws into the neighbor’s candy bucket. They last for a couple of streets and then they come home and go to sleep, none the wiser that they’ve just scored you a bucket of candy. You can’t very well feed all that sugar to a toddler, now can you? Life. is. Good. The renaissance has begun.
Kid is 3+ (Age 33+)
As the kid gets older, their candy-earning capacity grows, but stealing candy from them gets trickier. The kid is quicker to scarf it down immediately upon receipt. Little by little your candy intake dwindles once again. Eventually you are reduced to snitching from the candy you’re passing out and to charity from your children.
I’ve yet to experience beyond early parenthood, but I imagine that the graph takes a few more bumps as grandkids come along, etc.
This year my kid is 2, and I’ve got another one who will be getting into the game for the first time this year. So I’ve got some golden years of Halloween candy still ahead of me.