Jack Manning/The New York Times

October 29, 2021

Trick-or-Treat: The Nightmare List

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I’d like to consider myself a seasoned trick-or-treater, maybe even a master of the craft. For as long as I can remember, I would spend my childhood Halloween evenings bargaining and trading candy with my fellow sweet treat connoisseurs, attempting to optimize my selection. I’d say I’ve been through the trick-or-treating rounds enough to know what is good, and what is horribly bad. 

In my neighborhood, the best houses gave us big candy bars or goody bags, and the worst, nothing at all, or equally as abhorrent, sliced apples. But I’ve certainly been hearing some recent horror stories about childhood trick-or-treating and found it time to finally create the nightmare list of treats.

Our ranking begins somewhat mildly, with fruit. Fruit was never the ideal treat to receive on Halloween. After all, we were on the hunt for the sweetest and most sugary candies to ever grace this Earth. As an adult handing out fruit, you probably think you’re doing the children at your door a favor. I’ve come here to say that you are not. We do not want your sliced fruit, though we would graciously accept it for fear of you telling our parents. 

Fruit is still a fairly forgiving item to hand out on Halloween, however. It certainly does not compare to popcorn being dumped directly into your trick-or-treating basket. Sure, a little bag of popcorn would be nice, but having it loose in your bag, crushed up underneath the candy? Not very fun. 

A high-five. Not much to say here. Why even answer the door?

We mustn’t forget the classic dentist gift: a toothbrush. I’d imagine the pediatric dentist to be caught in a dilemma on Halloween. Do they hand out candy, knowing it rots our teeth? Do they allow us one day a year to indulge in copious amounts of sucrose, acting against their oath of healthy and pristine teeth? Apparently not. I’ve had a few people tell me they received toothbrushes as a child from their neighborhood dentist. 

A possibly controversial one: black licorice. Some hate it, some love it. I myself have grown up eating it often with my dad, so I have no negative feelings towards the candy. But to only offer eager children this oddly particular –– and widely hated –– twisted treat? Very risky. 

Up next: raisins. I cannot imagine any child being particularly ecstatic about eating raisins, no less receiving them as a “treat” on Halloween. Definitely on the nightmare list. 

Lastly: leftover candy from other holidays. I’ve received Easter candy and Valentine’s day snacks, clearly labelled with hearts, bunnies and pastels. Sometimes they throw in a yellow Peeps chick marshmallow, which really seals the deal. They’re not wasting, I suppose. But it is certainly never fun to eat stale marshmallows.

Natasha Aysseh is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].