I asked my husband if he trick-or-treated as a kid in Ireland. "Oh, sure," he said. I wanted to know about their candy. Did they have fun-size versions of their regular candy bars? "No, we mostly got money or fruit." Money! Huh. I never got one thin dime as a trick-or-treater. Not even dusty pennies the lady of the house wanted to get rid of. Fruit? Not that either. Not with the razors in apples stories going around. I think I read somewhere online that ended up being an urban legend, but who knows.
I got some homemade treats – popcorn balls mostly, but we couldn't keep those. I felt sorry for the people who made them. Probably spent a few hours shaping and wrapping the treats only to have a cautious mother dump them in the garbage. It was hard for me to understand why we went to the houses of people who we thought might want to poison us, but candy was being handed out and I wanted in on that deal.
My candy taste palette was about middle of the road. Not too picky but I of course loved candy bars the best with Snickers at the top o' the heap: jaw-pinching caramel and satisfying peanuts to crush with your molars, milk chocolate that melted in the wrapper from gripping it tightly in your fist before eating. Precious bounty, magical amulet that transported you to realms of great candy bar joy…
Crackles were neck and neck with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups but a full size Crackle beat a mini Reese's. Or it depended upon my mood. Maybe I wasn't in a very peanut buttery place that year and the crisp bit of rice on the roof of my mouth was more my thing.
Once your chocolate-based candies were gone, fruits were next. A runner-up to be sure but when you were high on sugar and your addiction was calling the shots you didn't complain. As a kid, I don't know about you, but I referred to flavors as colors, as in "what flavor did you get?" "Purple." Purple is the best flavor, then red, then green, then yellow, then orange. I don't recall what candy this rating system was based on, but it could have been jelly beans. I don't remember, honestly. I was flying by then on pure sugar dosed with artificial flavoring. (Mmm….chemicals.) That hierarchy of color-flavors stands to this day (in my mind anyway). I always wondered what flavor manufacturers were going for with orange, because it sure didn't taste like the fruit. Perhaps orange highway cones?
I tried to picture my husband as a boy coming home with his Halloween loot and dropping to the floor to count his pence and sort his fruit. I don't imagine he was bouncing off the walls from eating a nice golden delicious right before bed. The money he got could have been used to buy candy though, I reminded myself, silently. He could have bought whatever he liked! Not that shitty candy that people in other neighborhoods bought – they just didn't get it, I would think as I walked down their front steps, trying to prepare my mouth for green candy that would taste like postage stamp glue or red that tasted like grandma's lipstick. But I was a kid, what was I supposed to do, not eat the candy?