October 28, 2004

Taste Matters

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Although Hershey would like you to believe that they invented Halloween, it’s actually a 2,000-year-old Celtic holiday that celebrates human death and oddly, the New Year. Apparently, someone forgot to give them the memo about November and December. Anyway, the Celtics, who inhabited what is now England, Ireland and Northern France, believed that on Oct. 31, ghosts and spirits emerged to ruin their crops and allow Druid priests to make predictions about the future. Later on, when the Romans conquered the Celtics by 43 A.D., they took the Celtic traditions and combined them with their own to eventually make Halloween the Catholic eve of All Saints’ Day.

Interestingly, many similarities exist between modern American Halloween and the original Celtic holiday. For instance, while we dress up in scary costumes, like ghosts and Spongebob Squarepants, and then trick-or-treat for delicious candy, the Celtics wore dead animal carcasses and then burned them. Although the similarities are striking, and dead animal remains were probably ridiculously awesome and really sweet at the same time, our version of the holiday is far superior to anything anyone has ever done ever, for one reason: the candy. Honestly, is there anything better in life than candy? I mean, besides Goldschlager? No way, Jorge. Candy is like duct tape: it can and will fix anything. Wait, it’s also sticky. Trust me.

Candy can make anyone happy. You know what else can make anyone happy? Bribes. If they didn’t, no one would ever take them. The reason that trick-or-treating is so much fun is that you, as the trick-or-treater, are in complete control of the situation over the trick-or-treatee. The people on both sides of the front door know damn well what could happen, should the homeowner fail to deliver the goods. Unfortunately, many inexperienced trick-or-treaters do not realize how devastating a $.99 can of Barbasol shaving cream can be to a man’s front door and, consequently, his foyer. On that note, don’t try to be the Metrosexual who uses the Edge Pro Gel with skin conditioners — it doesn’t shoot far and looks like a Smurf’s entrails, which is only intimidating if you happen to be a moron.

In today’s crazy world, trick-or-treating is almost alien to its origins. In 1840’s Europe, Christians would walk around on All Saint’s Day and beg for “soul cakes,” which were made of bread and currants. For each cake they received, they would be able to say more prayers for the dead relatives of the people they visited, which then expedited the dead souls’ admittance to heaven … I’m sorry — I fell asleep writing that. Now, in America, we average about 36.8 million trick-or-treaters a year, and consume around 15 pounds of candy per capita on Halloween. Suck on that, antiquity. But these statistics are somewhat troubling; our trick-or-treaters have dropped by 275,000 from 2000, and our candy consumption is down by two whole pounds. My theory is that Dr. Atkins and his carb-fearing weenie army had less to do with the matter than kids who are simply unskilled trick-or-treaters. It’s like driving a 740i when you could have a 740li with power front comfort seats. Don’t cheapen out when it comes to maximizing your candy supply, and for the love of god, always carry cake mix on your person if you are going to throw eggs; who the hell is not going to believe that you had the clear intention to build a cake with 5 dozen eggs?

Now, I’m going to Q and A myself on the matter of trick-or-treating, basically so I can up my trick-or-treat credit.

Question #1. What is the scariest Halloween costume I can wear?

That’s a really good question. Now, in terms of shear terror, I would have to go with Indiana Jones — Harrison Ford frightens me. But let me rephrase my own question to ask, which costume will guarantee me the most candy? I know what you’re thinking — obviously a sad bum or sad fat guy. Wrong. People will not feel sympathy for some weird kid in rags or a fat suit. To reach the maximum net candy gain, you must wear costumes that satisfy the demographic of your area. If the neighborhood is filled with nerds, wield a Light saber, you dork. If there are a lot of rich people, go as a Lexus.

Question #2. What are the kinds of candy I should realistically shoot for?

Well, let’s be honest here. Don’t go around thinking that you are going to get the best candy out there every time — you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Chances are, most houses will not carry too many name brand products, which means you might have to settle for cheap candy corn and awful-tasting chocolate eyeballs. But then again, what the hell did you do for them? You have to prove that you are worthy of the mini Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and other top choices. So when they answer the door, do not ever break character. If you are a werewolf, act like a damn werewolf and howl at the moon, not at your feet. You hate the moon, so show them. And hey, if you happen to be a vampire, don’t be afraid to lunge at the person and bite his or her neck — it will only help you get the top shelf stuff.

Question #3. If someone gives me toothpaste, apples or other stupid crap, what should I do? Dentists are the evil monsters who do these terrible things to trick-or-treaters. They have no souls and love to watch the sad, weathered looks on kids’ faces when they hand them an Oral B and some Crest Extra Whitening Strips. Isn’t it enough fun for them to drill holes in teeth and pick at people’s gums? If this happens to you, take the toothbrush, impale a piece of candy on it, and watch him suffer while you savagely rot your teeth.

Question #4. Why do people sometimes give me gum?

I don’t know — it’s really quite pointless. Do people really think that there is any time for chewing gum during the holiday? What, you’re going to fill your mouth with bubblegum and chew it while you stuff your face with other candy? That’s preposterous. If you get gum, trade it to someone stupid for something better.

Final Question: What is your best overall tip for, umm, great success in trick-or-treating? It’s called trick OR treating, which means that either one or the other is going to happen. Unfortunately, if you abide by the code, only one of the two will occur, and that, my friend, is up to you.

Archived article by Jon Rich
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer