Don’t let trick legends spoil all the treats

Where is the outrage? When do the protests start?

When are American children going to grow a backbone and demand the kind of real Halloween treats their parents and grandparents enjoyed for nearly a century before killjoys ruined it for everyone.

Seriously, children may come home with buckets of miniature candies and a nickle or two but in days of old – actually only about 25 years ago – cleverly costumed midgets could empty a sack of homemade treats of all description out on the kitchen table.

Popcorn balls, caramel apples, decorated cookies, pumpkin muffins, it was a feast children prayed for all year.

The ruination of the Halloween haul began sometime in the late 1960s when a woman somewhere in the Northeast, weary of goofy teenagers showing up begging treats on Oct. 31 decided to do her own “trick” on them. She filled bags with dog biscuits, rocks and other refuse, including small boxes of bug-killing “buttons” clearly market with skull-and -crossbones and the word “poison.” When handing out the sacks, she told the smart-alecks there was bug poison in them. Nobody ate the poison and everyone got the message.

Sadly in the ’70s a Texas father killed his own son with poisoned Pixi-Stix in order to make a large insurance claim. (Fortunately the other six children who got the tainted candy, including his daughter, didn’t eat it.)

Since then the urban legend of strangers handing out poisoned candy has only grown and now everything given on Halloween has to be hermetically sealed.

No one gets candied, caramel or plain apples anymore because in a couple of cases decades ago teenagers though it would be funny to plant pins or razor blades in their younger siblings apples. Most such reports, however, were hoaxes. In 2000 a deranged man from Minnesota decided to trade on the legend and put needles in Snicker bars. Only one injury was reported but to this day, hospitals in different cities offer to X-ray bags of Halloween candy.

The biggest part of the problem may lay in the fact that today, children don’t know whose doorstep they’re standing on on the night of the Great Candy Raid. In the days when homemade treats were passed out, we were doing business with neighbors we knew – people our folks would happily track down if something went awry.

Just talk to anyone in Tanglewood or the Country Club who has faced the Halloween onslaught of children literally bussed in from other neighborhoods and you begin to get the picture. Doing a volume business with strangers adds and element of risk for everyone.

The least we can do, however, is offer a little something special for the children we do know. How else will we end up with a few candied apples of our own? Crave