When I was a kid, tales and whispers of Halloween loving well-to-do neighborhoods seemed to seep out of the vents of my elementary school all October long. Blocks that boasted of legendary lanes and porches laced with king-sized candy bars and homemade donuts were all the buzz. Such decadent goodies were allegedly doled out on these front stoops like free Costco samples on Halloween Night.
We trekked high and low in ridiculous get-ups, in search of such fabled neighborhoods, convinced the rumors were true, in our desperate quest for…The Good Stuff.
You see, I grew up in a healthy, happy home, emphasis on healthy. While other kids devoured their Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread sandwiches with carefree aloofness, my mother stuffed embarrassing sprouts into my brown bagged, seven grain, artesian sandwiches. “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead,” was her mantra.
But there was something untouchable about Halloween Night and the loot it would invariably bring. Just the word “Halloween” somehow put a kosher stamp on all otherwise contraband, sinfully delicious sweets. She never made us confess the whereabouts of our candy cache or even limit our intake. The candy was ours for the taking.
So on the 31st, out came the king sized shams, the flashlights. We concentrated on the houses rumored to have The Good Stuff, and strategically trick-or-treated between those locations. We left nothing to chance.
So, what is “The Good Stuff?” Allow me to start with what the Good Stuff is not. I like to call these the dreaded P’s: pencils, pretzels, pennies, and Circus Peanuts. Raisins are right up there too, along with fruit snacks.
In the medium range we have any pre-packaged “bite sized” candy bars. There are “bite sized” and then there are “snack sized” candy bars. The bite sized are for middle aged women, like me, who want a treat, but are too darn scared to eat any more than just a bite. Trick-or-treaters are not middle aged women. Snack sized or “fun sized” is preferable.
Lolli-pops, Smarties, Laffy Taffies, Star-Bursts and Skittles all get a two thumbs up by most kids. Whatever is not a favorite is still a good bargaining chip around the lunch table.
Then there is the Coup De Gras Level. The level that legends are made of. Your address will forever be spoken in hushed, reverent tones if you pass these out on Halloween Night: full sized candy bars. Any full sized candy will buy you this prestigious level, be it Skittles, M&Ms, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. As long as it’s trademarked and huge, you will never get T.P.ed. Think of it as insurance.
If the word “King” is factory printed on the packages, your neighborhood will be bustling for generations. Year after year, plush covered, face painted children within a 20 mile radius will be drawn to the chime of your doorbell like cats to an electric can opener, all because it was rumored that once upon a time you handed out The Good Stuff.
Over the years, my mother’s fitful fare has managed to sculpt me into my own kind of health nut, (much to my own children’s chagrin.) But once a year, on a night just like this, I get an overwhelming hankering for…The Good Stuff.