Lenore Skenazy, who's on a mission to let kids be kids the way our generation was privileged to be, had a great column in the WSJournal this week on the myth of killer candy for Halloween. She cited a researcher who found no child in this country has ever been fatally poisoned by treats from a stranger (the one boy who did die was done in by his father, who did it for the insurance money and paid with his own life). She quotes another who says Halloween is actually the safest night of the year.
But parents still buy into the fear factor of "stranger danger."
Which is why my consort and I either go out or hide out on Halloween night in our building. If I could bake things for the neighbors' kids, and their little friends, I would. But I know they would just throw the carefully crafted stuff out as unsafe. Everyone's been indoctrinated into trusting only baby Snickers. (I'm seeing the same sad thing at bake sales in the neighborhood: storebought trumps homemade.)
My parents never allowed their seven kids to go trick-or-treating because they thought it was begging, and they were too proud for that nonsense (although they would accept the boxes of food strangers would leave on our doorstep at Thanksgiving and Christmas). But every October my mom would buy big bags of candy corn etc. and repackage it in little wax-paper bundles, carefully tied with ribbon, to hand out to our lucky neighbors. (One year [but only one year] my smart older brother put on a sheet as a ghost and conned her into "treating" him.) Today probably no parent would accept even her little bags. Only factory-sealed candy will do.
No one's scared of the tricks anymore. Only the treats.
Too bad I can't swap my cookies for their candy, though. I kinda like baby Snickers. And especially candy corn.
By Regina Schrambling
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