Treats that will do the trick

Deciding what to hand out on on Halloween takes a little careful thought

October 27, 2005|By MATT EASTER | MATT EASTER,SPECIAL TO BALTIMORESUN.COM

Today's trick-or-treaters are tomorrow's teenagers. So before you inspire a generation to return in a few years to egg your house, avenging the injustice of receiving horrible candy in their younger days, take some care when deciding what to hand out on Halloween.

Halloween candy is a peculiar item, as it seems like it defies the laws of time. Halloween candy trends are the same as they were 20 years ago. In fact, it might be inappropriate to even use the word trend in this situation, as trends are usually associated with new ideas or likes. So use a little common sense when purchasing candy for this year's festivities. Not that long ago, you, too, were a kid. What did you like? What did you wish you received? What did you hate? You should ask yourself all of those questions, as odds are you will be dealing with a bounty of leftover candy on Nov. 1.

So for those out there who are a little out of touch with what's hot in the candy industry and the minds of children, here is a small list of some of the best and worst candies to give out this Halloween night.

Best

Any name brand chocolate treat These old time favorites are an easy "go-to" when shopping the candy aisles. Most everyone enjoys a Fun-Size Snickers bar or two and if the kids don't eat them, the parents probably will. Another good choice are Reese's Cups; the kids love the mix of peanut butter and chocolate, and dropping one or two of these in their bags will surely send them on their way with a smile.

Small packages of assorted fruit candies This is a solid staple of Halloween candy and leaves you with a lot of options. Generally, everyone enjoys a handful of Skittles, Sweet Tarts, Runts and the like, so very little thought is needed when purchasing a variety of these candies. The multi-colored candy pieces appeal to the ADHD-riddled children, and the sugar content should be high enough to keep their energy -- and their parents -- up all night.

The Whistle Pop This delicious and musical treat is arguably the Holy Grail of Halloween night. A benefit of distributing these melodic lollipops is the satisfaction of knowing your candy not only made the child you gave it to happy, but it also forces the parents to listen to a butchered version of "Skip to my Lou" squealing out of a hard candy hole for the rest of the evening. The sucker actually comes with sheet music. Candy and entertainment, what more could a kid ask for?

Honorable Mention

Blow Pops: With a variety of decent flavors and bubble gum in the middle, this lollipop is twice the fun.

Candy jewelry: Kids love eating these wearable treats. They may even add them to their costumes before they get home.

Sugar Daddies: Eating one of these hard caramel suckers will keep a kid occupied for at least an hour. Their dentists won't appreciate the chewy treat, but the children surely will.

Worst

Candy Corn A waxy, multi-colored, triangular piece of staleness, Candy Corn is neither candy nor corn. Frankly, it's amazing that anyone ever thought people would eat these for enjoyment. They are the candy that friends, family, bosses and doctors sit on their tables around Halloween time as a gesture of kindness, spirit and tradition; but really they're saying, "Here, you eat these. I'll save the good candy for myself." The brittle staleness of every piece of candy corn I've ever tasted leads me to believe that the world's supply of Candy Corn was made all at once in 1955, and they've been milking the effects of inflation to turn profits. There must be some flailing candy factory that counts down the minutes until Halloween, when they ship out these horrible excuses for candy in hopes of clearing out their warehouse. They may be cheap, and they may be recognizable, but you may have some trick-or-treaters saying, "No, thank you." You'll find yourself with a bounty of useless treats, stocking them away until next year. Just like everybody else.

The black-and-orange-wrapped mystery toffee Two questions: Does anyone know what these are? Or who makes them? These forgotten step-sisters of the Mary Jane seem to be made of candy by-products, as if whatever ingredients fell to the floor or got cleaned out of the mixing stations at the Hershey factory were smashed together, re-melted and wrapped in a generic orange or black wax paper. Even the bags they come in are discretely labeled as if no sweets company in the world is willing to tarnish its good name with the bitter stickiness of these mystery candies. So do your neighborhood children a favor and steer clear of these candy impostors.

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