Inviting Writing: The Mystery of the Missing Halloween Candy | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Inviting Writing: The Mystery of the Missing Halloween Candy

Our Inviting Writing theme for October is candy, as Lisa revealed last week, and we're eager to hear your tales of trick-or-treating and more. We're off to a sweet start with this essay by Kate Blood of the blog Something We Dreamed. (She previously wrote this piece about eating on a Mexican canal ...

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Our Inviting Writing theme for October is candy, as Lisa revealed last week, and we're eager to hear your tales of trick-or-treating and more. We're off to a sweet start with this essay by Kate Blood of the blog Something We Dreamed. (She previously wrote this piece about eating on a Mexican canal boat for our "road trips" theme.)

If you'd like to share your own story, please e-mail it FoodandThink at gmail.com by October 8th.

I Dream of Candy By Kate Blood

As a seven-year-old, Halloween was not just a day. It consumed me for weeks. While I should have been doing my homework, I was imagining how I’d look dressed as my favorite TV characters.

I came to the conclusion that my 43-inch, 50-pound frame could pull off an "I Dream of Jeannie" outfit complete with bare midriff, chiffon veil and blond wig. I kept this idea to myself until minutes before the trick-or-treating began. I suppose I imagined I had the same powers as Jeannie: with the bob of my head, I would instantly turn into a 30-year-old sexpot.

Courtesy of Flickr user Silvio Tanaka

Mother put an end to these delusions by yanking a pillow case over my head.

“You’re a ghost,” she said, cutting two eyeholes for me to see out of. “And like it or not, you are wearing a sweater.”

“She's a ghost in a sweater,” laughed my older sister as she ditched me, running ahead along the sidewalk of our suburban Seattle block. The street was swarming with packs of children dressed as Cousin It, Superman, pirates, Batman, and a flying monkey or two. They pushed and shoved their way to the front doors of my neighbor’s homes. Bells were rung, threats were made; candy exchanged hands.

It felt like the first night of my life: I’d never been alone in the darkness. A skeleton pushed me aside on his way to another candy theft.

“Go to that house,” he shouted. “She’s giving away full-size Milk Duds!”

Before long I had a paper sack full of Pixy Stix, Bazooka gum, Jolly Ranchers, Sugar Babies, Lemonheads, Oh Henry! bars, peppermint chews, Lifesavers and homemade popcorn balls. By the time I made it back home I felt like I’d walked miles and been gone for hours.

It was only 7:30, but I felt older. I’d seen the world at night—and the night was a strange and bewitching thing.

As I spread my candy collection across the living room floor, I predicted it would take weeks, maybe months, to eat what was surely the world’s greatest candy stash. I sorted the candy by type, then by color, then again in order of priority (Lemonheads, being a favorite, should be saved for last).

Mother allowed me one taste before bedtime and I chose a Reese’s Cup, savoring the experience by carefully separating the chocolate from the peanut butter, taking tiny bites and letting each little bit of deliciousness melt on my tongue.

In the morning, I couldn’t find my candy.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” mother said.

She pointed to six tiny samples: a lollipop, a Tootsie Roll, candy corn, black licorice, miniature Necco wafers and a match-sized box of Boston Baked Beans. “This is all you brought home. You must have imagined the rest.”

Halloween continued to haunt me for weeks. My dreams were filled with Wonka-esque images of chocolate flowing waterfalls. Even weirder, for the next month I’d open my school lunch box (with "The Munsters" on its cover) to find a surprising treat: Monday a Sugar Baby, Tuesday a box of Milk Duds…and Friday, my favorite—Lemonheads! It was magical: As if I did have the powers of a genie, with the bob of my head, a yummy piece of candy goodness would appear next to my bologna sandwich.

My obsession with candy began to lessen as Thanksgiving break rolled around, soon followed by Christmas with its sparkling lights and gaily wrapped gifts. It would be another year before my every waking thought began to revolve around which costume I could get away with.

It would be a couple more years before I figured out that on Halloween night one should eat as much candy as one can get away with before showing the stash to one's mother.
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About Amanda Bensen

Amanda Bensen is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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