Though the sharing of treats on All Hallow's Eve traces back to the holiday's roots as an ancient celebration, Trick or Treating is a phenomenon of the distinctly American holiday of Halloween. Though trick or treating is at least a century old, defining the treat as candy is relatively new: as recently as the World War Two era, the treat was likely to be a doughnut, a sip of cider, even an apple (imagine trying to get away with that today!).
Even with the advent of widespread manufacturing, candy-making was as expected a part of a homemaker's repertoire as canning. Around Halloween time, a homemaker sometimes spent days in the kitchen, rattling glass thermometers and pouring vials of exotic oils, in order to fill small waxed-paper bags with the house specialty (each cook was expected to have one): chewy nougats, bright sour balls, snowy vanilla drops, tinted coconut patties, home-dunked chocolate cherries, snapping shards of praline, hand-pulled taffy, and, of course, fudge.
Oh, sure, in the rich part of town, fancy ladies doled out the local confectioner's lollipops and jelly beans (and the occasional rum ball for a determinedly cheerful chaperone), but in the move to consumer culture many of these concoctions migrated to Easter baskets. In some of our minds, Halloween shall always belong to old-fashioned treats. Here is a sampling of online resources for retro treats (and perhaps a couple of tricks!).
Buy retro candy. If you remember, or would like to get acquainted with, licorice pipes, banana taffy, Boston Baked Beans, salt water taffy, Bottle Caps, marshmallow cups, Nik-L-Nips, Kits and BB Bats, Chuckles, jujubes, Slo-Pokes, Rocky Roads, Zeros, and heads from lemon to orange to sour apple to grape, then Nostalgic Candy is for you. If you're in New York City, a visit to Dylan's Candy Bar is de rigeur, but many locals trick-and-treat themselves at Economy Candy, where you can still get penny candy, not to mention almost every other kind. And if one of your favorite stops as a kid was the Brach's Pick-a-Mix display, there's an online equivalent.
Marvel at vintage candy ads. The Brachs website mentioned above has an archive of their vintage ads, with attention paid to such candified holidays as Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Easter. Online retailer Vintage Ads and Such offers a staggering, and inspiring, collection of vintage candy ads for sale. Finally, you can usually locate vintage candy ads (not to mention such related items as tins, dishes and advertising premiums) at online auction.
Eat Halloween candy. So what' s your poison (pun intended)? Candy corn and mellocreme pumpkins rule Halloween, but so do caramel apples. For chocoholics, Hershey's, like pretty much every other candy manufacturer , pulls out the stops for Halloween. What will you order -- a dainty spider web filled with Hershey treats, or a go-for-it bucket of them? How about a chocolate greeting card -- for this time of year, amusingly illustrated with the signature of a one-D Adams Family?
What is your favorite candy or candy memory, Halloween or otherwise?