Halloween Humor: The Twisted Trick of Tacky Treats

Here’s another fun Halloween article from guest author and improv expert Avish Parashar

We recently published his article on Halloween costumes:  Get Dressed To Thrill!

Subscribe to his Avish’s Ezine:  Improvised Musings.  Highly recommended.

Halloween Humor: The Twisted Trick of Tacky Treats
by Avish Parashar

It’s Halloween time, and that means candy! You can’t walk more than 10 feet without seeing something about child obesity in America, and yet no one cares at all when it comes to Halloween. It’s like a modern day Hansel and Gretel, only instead of being shoved into an oven by a witch the kids are going to suffer a slow death due to heart disease and diabetes.

Don’t worry, I am not going to proselytize about how you should not give out candy this year. On the contrary, I believe that if you are going to participate in Halloween, you should do it all out.  One night a year, I am ok with the free flowing unrestricted distribution of the “white powder” (aka: sugar).

However, some of you will resist the pull of sweets and try to give out alternative treats. Here then are a few guidelines to help you make your Halloween decisions easier. Proceed with caution; your choice of Halloween treats should never be taken lightly.

Fruit — Let me start out by stating it plain: Fruit has no place on Halloween. 364 other days of the year, sure, get healthy. But on Halloween, you should never give out apples instead of candy. Or boxes of raisins (Ewwwwww!).  No kid, no child, no one, nobody, nowhere wants a piece of fruit in their Halloween bag.  They can get fruit from their parents! Plus, fruit is heavy! If you’re walking around from house to house all night, the last thing you want is an apple orchard in your bag.

Do you really think you are somehow inspiring change? You are not. You might be inspiring hundreds of apples to be dumped on your lawn, or hurled at other trick or treaters (not that I would know anything about that). If you really don’t want to buy into the Halloween obesity machine, then go with the lesser of two evils and give out money or gift certificates. If you are going to be truly obstinate, then you can try other non-candy options: bags of Goldfish (the crackers, not the animal, though if you did give out water filled bags with little Nemos in them, I would certainly applaud your initiative), pretzels, and even non-food items like stickers or crayons. Can’t say I would be too happy myself getting crayons or stickers, but I wouldn’t hate you like if you gave me an apple.

Money — Overall, giving out money is a pretty poor strategy. When I was a kid, if someone gave change, the thought process was, “come on! Where’s the candy!” Kids will think you were too lazy to go out and buy a few bags of candy (and they might be right). You would have to give out a decent amount of money to make them appreciate it. The rare dollar bill would elicit an, “ok, that’s cool,” but then you could blow through a week’s paycheck in your quest to not give out candy.

There is a very interesting business lesson here. While the real value of the money you are giving out is greater than the cost of the small piece of candy, the perceived value is actually much less. You may whine and moan about how the kids should be happy that they are getting money, and that they can then use that money to buy whatever they want, but most kids won’t see it that way. Most adults wouldn’t see it that way either.

Lesson: Your logic is meaningless. All that matters is what the customer perceives.

Then there are the people who give pennies and nickels. I won’t deign to comment on you.

Gift Certificates — Gift certificates are a safe and simple way to give stuff out. Unfortunately, they take away the immediate gratification element of Halloween. It’s like when a well meaning aunt gives you a U.S. Treasury Bond on your eighth birthday — it’s all very nice and practical, but you can’t very well unwrap it and go play with it that day. (Can you guess that this happened to me?) And now the child will have to convince his parents to let him go to McDonalds to redeem his coupon, which can more difficult than trying to convince Britney Spears to have a modicum of self-respect.  Of course, once you are there you’ll be tempted to buy a value meal. Talk about the fattening of America! You’ve gone from small pieces of candy to full-blown fast-food meals. It gets worse and worse.

Toothbrushes and Floss — Hard to believe, but it happens. I would love to be inside of the head of someone who makes the decision to give out toothbrushes on Halloween. “Hey, I know! Kids are going to be eating all sorts of candy tonight, and if I give them a toothbrush then at least they won’t get cavities! I am so brilliant and clever!”

Come on. You do realize you are accomplishing nothing, right? The kids already have toothbrushes at home. If they are not brushing their teeth, your little brush is not going to make them suddenly dentally responsible. No child is going to look at your brush and say, “hey, maybe I should give some consideration to the health of my bicuspids.” In fact, no child will even give your brush a second look. Mom will take the toothbrush and throw it into the medicine cabinet for future use. You have essential helped a family with their sundry shopping.

I don’t care if you are a dentist, dental hygienist, work for Oral-B, or are Laurence Olivier from Marathon  Man; save the toothbrushes for the office.

Informational Pamphlets — I read a comment from someone who said that in his neighborhood there were two houses that would hand out pamphlets explaining why Halloween is Satanic. I don’t need to make a joke here, it kind of writes itself. The only thing worse would be getting an informational pamphlet about proper brushing and flossing. Which would still be better than fruit.

Candy — The best choice. However, I think it’s time that we, as a society, standardized on candy choices. I remember some Halloween nights coming home and feeling like I had a huge bag filled with candy, but when I dumped it out there was at least 50% of inedible dreck in there. It’s like being excited to go a blind date with someone your friend has been hyping up to you, only to find yourself sitting in a restaurant across from Sloth from the Goonies.  (I’m sure he/she has a great personality).

There are too many great candy choices out there to justify giving out nonsense. You can’t go wrong with Snickers, Hershey’s Twix, Reese’s, M&M’s, Nestle’s Crunch, Kit Kats, etc.

And yet, for Halloween, people give out candy that is the equivalent of Christmas fruitcake. Nobody likes it, nobody eats it, and nobody even understands it. I propose a ban on the following: O’Henry, Payday, Smarties, Now and Laters, Circus Peanuts, and 90% of anything manufactured by Brach’s.

Here’s a rule of thumb: Next time you are in a supermarket or convenience store, take a look at the candy section. Not the bulk candy aisle, but the individual candy bars section, like at the checkout. If the candy you are planning to give out on Halloween warrants a place on that aisle, you are usually safe giving it out (Paydays being the exception, of course). If not, well, there’s a reason that candy isn’t popular enough to be sold on its own.

And now it is time to discuss candy corn. Another Brach’s specialty. What the heck is up with candy corn? It’s like the Great Pumpkin: it only comes out at Halloween, no one knows where it comes from or what it really is, and only one or two kids in the entire world anticipate its arrival. It tastes like fermented plastic. And no one ever, ever buys candy corn for themselves. Have you ever been hanging out with friends or family and heard somebody say, “You know what I could go for right now? A giant bag of candy corn”? Ever? Me neither. It’s the Soylent Green of Halloween candy.

If you are sitting there considering sending me an angry email saying, “I love candy corn!” then stop, step away from the keyboard, and go see a doctor. You have eaten too much of it, and the alien chemical components of the candy corn must have seeped into your brain and impaired your judgment.

The candy corn manufacturers must have the world’s best marketing department because year after year they get people to buy this stuff even though no one likes it. There’s a lesson there: Even if your product is terrible, you can still sell it.

Have a great, happy, and safe Halloween, and please, give out your treats with caution.

*****

John’s note:  I’ve eaten hundreds of Payday candy bars, dozens of bags of candy corn, and I love fruitcake.  And if you see me in a restroom after a restaurant meal, I’m probably flossing my teeth.  Maybe that’s why the article was funny.  Please don’t send me any candy; I no longer eat sugar.  But a brochure on dental hygiene is always appreciated.  Thanks Avish for a fun article.