TRUST: Halloween Edition

I’m old enough to remember (yes, kids, it is one of those stories) many Halloweens when a grandmotherly neighbor handed out homemade popcorn balls to the trick-or-treaters fortunate enough to land on her doorstep. If you were smart, you showed up early, just as the sun began setting in the sky, because they were still WARM. They were so good, we contemplated switching up our costumes to go back for more.

And came then the dark days of TV news anchors sounding alarms about the dangers of homemade treats. Stories of razor blades and needles found in Halloween candy ruined it for everyone. No more popcorn balls or candy apples or rice krispie treats, still soft from the stovetop, handed out with pride.

From then on, Halloween goodies all came wrapped in plastic. Not that I cared all that much, at the time. Candy is candy. Of course, my neighbor still made her gooey delicious popcorn balls for us; we just didn’t have to share them with the neighborhood, anymore.

Fast forward a few decades to a Halloween several years before before Covid. I decided that Earth and children deserved better. I’d read that there’s little evidence of trick-or-treaters harmed by people intentionally poisoning candy. So many of the stories are urban legends or even fictions made up by the kids themselves, looking for attention. But what about the kids that actually were harmed? Usually, as so often is sadly the case, the perpetrators were their own family members.

So I determined to offer some homemade goodies that Halloween. “Let’s take back the trust!” I declared. My daughter duly rolled her eyes but eagerly joined in making several batches of rice krispie treats. We set out our trays of delectables on the porch on Halloween with the sign listing every ingredient, all FOUR of them. Oh, I had a big bowl of candy wrapped in plastic, too, but guess which stash was GONE first? Mm-hmm. Luckily, we’d set aside a batch for ourselves.

Then along came Covid and we learned to distrust anything that had come in close contact with another person not in our “bubble.” Halloween 2020 was scrapped entirely. For good reason, I get it. And still, I long for the simple joy of a popcorn ball freshly infused with neighborly love. 

My daughter is away at college now, and, thanks again to Covid, I won’t be making any homemade treats for the neighbor kids. I’m still hoping to find some way to decrease the plastic trash that Halloween inevitably inspires, from the plastic pumpkins to plastic capes wrapped in plastic bags. What to do?

One idea is to give away raisins that come in the little boxes, but I’d rather not have my house egged. Again. Candies like Junior Mints, Dots, Nerds, Milk Duds often come in mini boxes, though they’re likely to be pre-packaged in a big plastic bag. You may be able to find foil-wrapped chocolates in the bulk aisle at the grocery store, though kids would need to eat a BUNCH of those to have enough foil to warrant recycling.

Sigh. As with every Earth-loving intention, it’s not as easy it should be to make more sustainable choices. I’m tempted to turn out the lights and hide under my covers with my own stash of treats. Which might include some herbal-infused gummies packaged in a tin.

But no! I’ll not wish away the spooky fun of Halloween. Jumping out of the bushes at unsuspecting children is a zero-waste activity that also burns calories. And a rare opportunity to make good use of these scary wrinkles! We do what we can. . . and may we have some FUN doing it.

Have a Spooooooktacular Halloween!

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