Next Monday is Beggars’ Night in New Albany. That means we soon will have to make the high pressure trick-or-treat candy selection decisions that will determine our Halloween cred with the neighborhood kids until next October. Anybody who once was a kid understands this. The people in a house can carve a bunch of jack o’ lanterns, dress in a vampire suit, and broadcast scary music, but if their candy selections suck, they inevitably do, too.
There are two crucial decision points for the Halloween candy shopper — type of candy, and volume. Here’s a good rule of thumb on candies to avoid if you want your house to be respected in the ‘hood: don’t buy anything that appeared at the office coffee station the morning after Beggars’ Night last year. That means, in short, that you shouldn’t buy Jolly Ranchers, SweeTarts, or any kind of “healthy candy.” I also think suckers should be avoided, but that is primarily because our grandmother often terrorized UJ and me with “cautionary” stories about awful disasters that could befall innocent children. One of the stories was about a sweet-faced child who was running with a sucker in her mouth, tripped, fell face first, and had the white sucker stem smash through the roof of her mouth and impale her brain. I’m pretty sure Grandma used the phrase “doctors say she was dead as soon as she hit the floor” in recounting this horrible tale. (You’ve been warned!)
The volume aspect of the candy purchase decision often is ignored by over-confident souls who believe they can buy a bag of “fun-sized” Snickers, Milky Way, and Three Musketeers bars and be done with it. The volume issue poses its own hazards, however. Any house that runs out of candy and turns out the porch lights at mid-point on Beggars’ Night is by definition a loser house. So, you don’t want to run out — but at the same time you don’t want to be sitting in your house come 8 p.m. listening to the siren’s song of irresistible Reese’s Cups. At our house, we typically experience peaks and valleys in candy distribution. We start with full bowls and boldly encourage the early arriving kids to take multiple pieces, then panic after the early rush and turn into misers who harangue kids who try to sneak an extra piece — but then by the end of the night we’re basically hurling candy out the door at any random passing kid in order to get rid of the stuff.
The next morning, it’s time to take the Jolly Ranchers to our respective office coffee stations.