Thursday, October 31, 2013


As a young child, Hallowe'en was the highlight of my autumn.  The whole of October was spent anticipating an evening spent with friends, loose on the streets of Sherwood Park, masked to prevent recognition and armed with boundless energy and an empty pillow case for candy.  The costume was usually determined early. For me, scary was a fallback for inspiration.  I tended to lean towards emulating my heroes - "army" guys, Superman, Spiderman or other comic book characters.  The week prior to the eve was the time to make alliances for trick-or-treat buddies.  You chose someone who lived close-by, so you could quickly race over to their house after supper (clearing of the dinner dishes being the the unofficial starting gun of the candy fest) and the two, three or four of you would then plan the route, maximizing visits to areas that would yield "good candy."

In the 'seventies, Hallowe'en candy tended to be something that today's kids wouldn't even bother catching if it was thrown at them.  Things like stale, chewy, individually-wrapped toffees; small plastic packets of candy corn; hand-saran-wrapped balls of dry carmel popcorn; loose sticks of licorice; unadorned, bruised (and presumably razor-filled) apples ... all of these meager offerings were accepted with fake, luke-warm gratitude.  The thing that really caught our attention, and held it, and lived in grade-school folklore from year to year, were the houses that gave out REAL CHOCOLATE.  These were, of course, the childless and/or retired couples that graced our neighborhood.  Although we spent the other 364 days of the year being chased from their lawns, on that one magic night we would show up in mobs, hoping for some of that quality loot.

The following day, you would usually go over to a friend's place to compare your Hallowe'en Haul.  Although chocolate bars (candy bars in the popular vernacular) were the most coveted, I had a non-chocolate personal favorite - Rockets.  Rockets are a tube of tart, little compressed sugar pills.  They were fun to unwrap - no tearing involved - just grab the plastic flappy ends and pull and after a small, satisfying spin, the wrapper parted and left a line of individual morsels to enjoy.  As they are small, you could shotgun them all at once or savour them individually, holding them one at a time in your mouth until the urge to crunch that tiny bomb of tartness became too much, triggering the need to pop a fresh one into your mouth.

A few days prior to Hallowe'en this year, I happened upon a bag of Rockets and was bowled over with a wave of nostalgia.  I bought them under the guise of offering them up to the tikes that came begging for sweets this year. I had to fight to keep my Aussie bride from handing
out my treasured treat, as I think she was protecting her purchase of Oh Henry's and M and M's she had bought.  When the pumpkin candles were blown out, we both seemed to have an equal share of our own candies.