Every time October rolls around, families around New Jersey are figuring out what costumes they will wear at the end of the month and what candy they’ll give out to the Trick-or-Treaters. One recent Saturday my mom said she planned to give out pretzels on Halloween. We jokingly told her that if she did she would ruin Halloween.We also warned that her that her house could be TPed. The argument must have been persuasive as she called the next day to say she picked up a bag of Kit Kats. This led to re-living some truly odd candy moments from childhood. We also asked our readers to share their “strangest treat” moments.
Back in my time we used to go out with pillowcases for at least 2 rounds. The plan was pretty much stock up on candy for 6 months. There were always items no serious trick-or-treater could tolerate; pennies, Mary Janes, etc. But by far the oddest thing I ever received was a can of soup. Now don’t get me wrong. I like a good bowl of soup but as a young kid expecting candy. I asked my mother but neither of us could be certain what kind of soup it was but I vaguely picture Campbell’s in my mind. Probably something horrible for a kid like Pepper Pot. Needless to say the soup was not eaten.
Odd can also be good. My friend and I were out late one Halloween night and we went to a dentist’s house. Wasn’t a business building but one of those houses where the dentist turned part of it into the office. Didn’t even realize it. We received little brown paper bags. We were intrigued enough to open them right away and what was inside? Popcorn. We were not happy. It makes sense that a dentist would not give out candy but popcorn is not an acceptable treat to an 11 year old. Now I’m not proud but we thought we would tear the bags and throw popcorn all over the dentists front yard. We proceeded to do so and a folded $10.oo bill came out of my friend’s bag! We were astonished. Turns out each year one lucky kid got a bag with money in it. We did not clean up the popcorn.
I was trick-or-treating alone in my town.I had already gone trick-or-treating with my friends but they never wanted to do the kind of epic vision that I had in mind. Everyone I knew would wimp out after just one or two streets or areas. It always irritated me because there was an infinite amount of free candy out there and the only limitation was how much time you spent and how many places you went. To this day, I have still never done the kind of trick-or-treating that I wanted to.
I approached a house I had never gone to before. I rang the doorbell not sure I would get an answer. Finally, a man answered the door. He looked at me and held up a big package of pencils. He said “I was going to give one pencil to each person that came by tonight, but it hasn’t been very busy. You’re the first trick or treater to come to my house tonight…” he paused to drop all the pencils into my bag, “and the last!” and then he slammed the door and turned out the lights.
I remember it more for what he said and the fact that I felt I had scored what should have gone to a whole bunch of different people. It also stands out to me because it is the only time I did not receive food.
I don’t really remember getting anything bad. Fortunate for me, I guess! I always liked the weird flavors of candy while my sisters each liked different chocolate candies. So, trading and bartering was going on late into the night in the Braucher household on October 31st. I wanted all the Charleston Chews and Heath Bars and I wanted nothing to do with those Hershey bars. It really was a well-oiled machine. I chalk up my mature tastes in candy to the fact that my parents owned a convenience store in town so we had access to basically any type of candy we wanted to try. There was a candy salesman who came to the store in his big silver truck every few weeks and Mom would pick out what the store needed and then one or more of us kids would get to go in and pick out one or two items that we’d like to try. Yes, some were duds but most new candies were weird, wonderful delights. All this store-talk is to say that I lived a charmed candy life and Halloween wasn’t all about candy to me. My mom is a seamstress so the highlight for me was dreaming up what kind of costume she would make me. We had awesome Halloween costumes!
The only bad Halloween story I can think of is more about how weird my dad was. Let me preface the story by saying that we lived across the street from the fire station in town and that’s where the annual costume parade/contest was held. My dad was convinced that we gave away double candy because kids would stop by our house on their regular route and then AGAIN on their way to the contest. So, he got the brilliant idea of taking names as he gave out candy. It ended up creating a long line for candy and mass confusion because the really little kids didn’t understand what was happening. The long line made people think we were giving away something really good and added even more kids to the back up. Of course, in the days after trick or treating, I got barraged with questions at school about why my dad was taking names. Kids had crazy conspiracy theories about being added to a no-sale list at our store or that my dad was going to call the parents and make some kind of problem for kids who were trick or treating outside their own neighborhood. For a shy kid who didn’t really want to be the center of attention, my dad piled on the attention for me at school with his name-taking antics.
I will also add that one year when I lived in California, I ran out of candy and ended up having to give apples to the last few kids. Oddly enough, they LOVED the apples. The tore into them right outside my apartment. Maybe they were weird California kids. I add that story because Ed thinks that everyone will hate pretzels. I have subjective proof that some kids will like unusual treats!
We asked our fans on Facebook for some of the odd things they have gotten and the responses were great. The popular responses were pennies, pencils, toothbrushes, cider and donuts. There were some really odd and interesting ones;
Can of soda
Clear plastic heart with jawbreakers
45 rpm record
single Ritz crackers
What are some of the strange things you have gotten while out trick-or-treating?
Copyright, You Don’t Know Jersey, LLC (2010-2022)