Wednesday, October 31, 2007


halloween was one of my favorite holidays. not for the costumes and charlie brown specials. not for the late night scream flicks or pumpkin carving. it was all about the sugar. the treats. candy could possibly be my first love.

as i developed into a seasoned trick or treater, it became apparent to me that my rounds lacked efficiency. i realized that its not a matter of how many houses you hit, but which houses. fortunately, i lived in town, so i was under no parental time constraints. my limits were only the supply of candy being offered. when i was 11 or 12 years old, i decided i needed to formulate a plan of attack. the results were so fruitful, i thought i'd share my knowledge with the sugar junkies of tomorrow.

first of all, its imperative that you wear a mask. it makes a clever, double costume a possibility. i had a cape that was red on one side and black on the other. if a house was exceptionally generous, i'd hit it twice. first, as a wolfman in a black cape, then as a superhero in a red cape and eye mask. just covertly mesh into another group of kids on the second approach to avoid detection.

its also important to start as early as you can get away with. when i grew up, there was a halloween parade. all the kids would get dressed up and march through town so all the adults could gape at them, "ohh"-ing and "aww"-ing. trick or treating officially opened following the parade. i bypassed the parade and used the time to venture to the far west side of town. there was a substantial section of wealthier, younger families. lawyers, politicians, and doctors mostly. three houses in particular were famous for there goodies. if you got there while supplies held out (which wasn't long as lots of kids knew these to be hot spots), you were assured 3 full size candy bars. usually, an Oh Henry, a Whatchamacallit and a Hershey Bar.

a map can be incredibly helpful. it will keep you on pace. residential areas tend to have congregations of similar people. sketch out a drawing of your locality. just the main streets will suffice. its not to keep you from getting lost. more of an itinerary. think of the neighborhoods. once you've generalized your vicinity, you'll quickly see the high priority locations, and the areas not worth your time. i made a rough version of what mine may have looked like:

areas you want to hit for the goods:
  • any grouping of large, expensive houses. usually on the edge of town, so make this one of your first stops, then work your way inward. they don't stock up since they're out of the way, but their treats are usually high quality.
  • near hospitals. lots of doctors and nurses live nearby hospitals. doctors have lots of money to spend on candy and in small towns, they're well known in their community. their guilt will buy more candy then they need. this means that they usually dump it all in a bowl and let you take what you want. great for a double hit. first, cherry pick the best candy. then go back for a potluck handful.
  • older parents with kids too old for trick or treating are eager for visitors. they miss the old days of halloween excitement and reminisce over their once adorable children. exploit that nostalgia. there was a lady who started making home-made caramel popcorn balls after her kids moved out. i don't recommend taking things like that from strangers though, unless you have a taste for razor blades and strychnine.
  • smaller neighborhoods are perfect to connect two sections. the smaller the better. they get less traffic so they tend to keep their lights on the longest. they're also eager for the attention and with a little chit chat, you may be able to finagle a bonus Bit-O-Honey for your cuteness and conversational skills.
  • know your old folks homes! i can't stress this enough. the elderly are probably the most ecstatic to see you and they're all congregated in one building. my town had 2 that were both conveniently located near my house. The Green Home had a table set up in the lobby covered in candy dishes. the residents sit around as you come in and stock up on your pick of the litter. park hill manor gathers its occupants in a circle in the game room. you had to make a lap, but nearly each wrinkled hand offered a fistful of candy. you may get a few cheek pinches or a box of raisins here or there, but its well worth the sacrifice.
stay away from businesses and schools. some stores may have a small dish of penny candy, but they tend to be few and far between. also, schools and their surrounding areas tend to attract younger families. they would happily dispense candy if they were home, but they're not. steer clear.

use the buddy system. having a friend with a double costume is a great benefit for both time management and making your double hits less suspect. if you and a friend each take one side a side of a street, you can point out the best houses at the corner or team up for a second attempt.

finally, plan your route. do not start from home and work your way out. you'll find yourself crossing the same ground twice, wasting precious time. if possible, start at one end and move your way across. try to hit your neighborhood somewhere in the middle. this not only allows you the chance to get your neighbors' candy (let them know its you. they might give you extra), but to empty your bounty. i kept a pillowcase in my tree house as a drop point. carrying an empty pumpkin pail late in the evening can often win you some sympathy sweets. plus, having a hidden treasure can help alleviate the stresses caused by parents who insist on a candy rationing system.

keep in mind, the best treats require a few tricks.


Anonymous said...

Rotten kid..........I saw a hundred of you at my door tonight..... I did scare one little one with my witch hat. And I carved a great pumpkin. yea for me. Oh, and Amber the cat did her part, she jumped out of the bushes and scarred a few, thank you Amber.

Tyler Hallberg said...

Nice article and the given map is also found very interesting. Thank you for this kind of a gem.