Jason Davis: My great Halloween candy conspiracy

Oct. 28, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

Ah, Halloween.

It’s the time of year for costumes, candy and inevitable belly aches.

I remember fondly the Halloween nights of my youth, and the most puzzling proposition of the year — what should I be?  Should I be a werewolf? Maybe a G.I. Joe character? How about Frankenstein’s monster? Usually it came down to whatever could be thrown together last minute from stuff I could find around the house.

I remember the candy. The loads of beautiful candy. 

There was the chocolate — the first thing to go. It usually didn’t last until Nov. 1. 

There was the second-most prized item, Blow Pops or Tootsie Pops. It was possible they’d make it a week.

Then came the also-rans: Sweet Tarts, Skittles, Lemonheads, Smarties and Nerds. The filler candies. They served the purpose for a sugar-rush but were hardly favorites.

Next was the bubblegum. Usually Bazooka, Super Bubble or Dubble Bubble. Quick to lose its flavor, but hey, you could blow bubbles. It served its purpose.

Finally you had the scraps. Candy cigarettes, the weird peanut butter candy in the orange and black wrappers, and the bane of every trick-or-treater — apples and oranges.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like fruit, I did. But I could get that at home. I didn’t need the healthy neighbors pushing their lifestyle on me! Listen, I’m 8 years old, I’ve got one night to run around crazy dressed like a blood-thirsty werewolf on a sugar high. The last thing I want is a lovely red Macintosh or perfectly healthy Granny Smith. Give me empty calories!

One particularly strong memory for me came smack in the middle of my favorite decade, the 1980s.

You see, we kids of the earlier era didn’t have truck-or-treats or church harvest festivals to load up on candy in one easy, convenient location. No, we had to do things the old-fashioned way. The hard way. We had to work for our sweets.

My sister, Lori, 12 years older than me and the de-facto mom of my childhood (my mother died after a battle with cancer when I was 2), drug me — dressed as a sad little Dracula — all over the place in her 1974 AMC Gremlin.

We went beyond our own neighborhood and scoped out all the high-end subdivisions in our town. We were sure they’d have the best candy. We were right.

Using a beautifully played strategy — emptying my orange pumpkin bucket into paper grocery bags in the car between houses — it seemed as though I had nothing upon my arrival at each new house. Time and again the lady of the house would take pity on me, giving me a little extra in my pathetically barren little bucket. It was brilliant.

By the end of the night, I was as candy-rich as any kid in the neighborhood. Shoot, probably in a five-county radius. 

Sure enough, the chocolate was first to go. But six months later I was still flush with bubblegum, Sweet Tarts and King brand candy cigarettes. It had basically been a six-month candy binge. I can directly link my lifetime battle with my waistline to this period, by the way.

Those memories have stuck with me for years. They’re some of the most vivid of my childhood. It’s a shame trick-or-treating has gone the way of the dinosaur for the most part. It always made for good times in the Davis household.