Grumpy Old Lady’s Jaundiced View of Fools

Here’s something remarkably stupid: The L.A. Times’s staff is caught on the horns of a dilemma—what on earth to do with the candy the kids collect in their annual door-to-door solicitation.

Dear me. If it matters to you that much, why let the kids go trick-or-treating at all? You’re not mom enough or dad enough to utter the dread word, No? You can’t think of anything else for the offspring to do that night? Throw a big kiddy party? Cook toxicly sugared candy at home and get dressed up in fright costumes and and answer the door and scare the neighbors’ kids and then dose the neighbors’ kids with the stuff?

We have here descriptions of helicopter parents actually counting the calories in pieces of Hallowe’en candy and making the kids trade out a bag of lunch chips for a piece of sugary junk. Junk food for junk food, as it were.

Is there a surer way to make your child more neurotic than your neurotic cat? Anorexia, anyone?

LOL! My mother had a pretty good way of dealing with the Hallowe’en candy conundrum, which no doubt crossed her fevered mind now and again: during the rest of the year, she simply didn’t deliver sweets on anything like a routine basis. We didn’t have desserts (allegedly my father didn’t like them; but after she was dead and gone and he was living in a life-care community, I noticed  he was given to taking two pieces of industrial pie from the chow line at dinnertime). I rarely ate candy. It wasn’t forbidden; it just wasn’t a normal part of daily life. Result: I wasn’t especially interested in junk candy.

I did love to collect it at Hallowe’en. But by the time I was old enough to go trick-or-treating, I was pretty picky about what I would stuff in my mouth. Most of it got thrown out—by me, not by my mother.

What part of common sense is hard to grasp here?

When M’hijito was little, all the women in our car-pool, who lived pretty much in the same neighborhood, would conspire to buy really high-quality candies or fruits and party favors, which would be dispensed only to the kids they recognized. Then they’d buy a bushel of the cheapest junk on the market to hand out to the hordes of children trucked and bussed in from the surrounding  blight. Cruel, but it kept our kids in halfway decent junk and kept the cost of servicing over a hundred trick-or-treat parties a night within reason.

Whether you have kids or not, the question does remain: what to do with unused and unusable junk candy inflicted by the Hallowe’en tradition. Whether your kid drags it home or you have to buy it to amuse someone else’s kids, what do you do with the leftover stuff?

Me, I avoid it altogether. Come Hallowe’en, Cassie and I go out on the town, walking through a part of this neighborhood where parents from the surrounding barrios descend with their little kids. It’s great fun: the kids are jumping up and down and all dressed up and cuter than cute. The neighbors, who encourage the invasion for that very reason, all drag folding tables into their spookily decorated front yards and sit around socializing. We can easily wait out the onslaught by hanging out to watch the show, so that by the time we get home, alas, no more kiddies are coming to our door.

I used to buy wrapped candies to hand out. Most parents around here won’t let their kids eat anything that’s not individually wrapped in the manufacturer’s branded plastic. You’d be crazy to do otherwise, really. But that means old home-made favorites like popcorn balls and caramel apples are out (and kids never come to know those wonderful treats). And if you don’t eat the stuff yourself, as I don’t, and not enough kids come around to collect all the junk, then what do you do with the stuff?

At one point I thought, well, take it over to Goodwill or down to the food bank and donate it. But…uh…no. They don’t want it, either. They have ethical compunctions, as anyone with any decency should, about giving sugary crap foodoid to hungry children.

So, donating it is out. Throwing it away is a lot like throwing money in the garbage, because even the cheapest of the stuff is not really cheap. I resent being pressured into buying stuff I would never eat myself and that I think is unhealthy for children and that half the time I end up throwing away. So I just don’t buy it at all: I leave the house for the evening.

What do you do with unwanted or undesirable Hallowe’en treats?

 

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Barb October 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Take it to work, adults eat anything at work.

Ellen2 October 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

We have a local dentist who offers kids $1 per pound for any candy they want to donate. He bags it and sends to soldiers. Each of the last couple of years he’s sent about 1,000 pounds.

frugalscholar October 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm

How about buying those 10/$1 Frosty coupons at Wendy’s? All proceeds go to charity.

Shelley October 30, 2011 at 3:03 am

As a child I loved the dressing up part of Halloween, but I was raised to think that candy was practically poison and consequently I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth. I love that dentist’s idea! I seem to remember picking over the evening’s haul and finding a few things I liked OK and then telling Mom I didn’t want the rest. I think she gave it to the next door neighbour lady or something.

What I do about Halloween now? Absolutely nothing. That’s really grumpy, I know, but it’s not really a usual British thing to do and I don’t get excited about Britain becoming Yankee-fied. I’d prefer to give a ‘penny for the Guy’ than hand out sweets. The first year I had visiting kids I was prepared with candy, but they were amazingly big kids in barely could be called costumes and I decided I didn’t like opening my door to strangers that size, so I stopped. Nobody seems to have worked out the ‘trick’ part yet, so I might get away with it for a while longer…

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