Raising the bar

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Halloween treats are all about chocolate -- not fruit, candy corn, or pencils.

Out of breath and exhausted, I rang another doorbell hoping for that coveted full-size candy bar.

"Trick or treat!"

I opened my bag expectantly ... and what gets dumped in?

A tasty Snickers? A delicious sucker with bubble gum center?A carmel-covered apple?

No. It's not even a box of candy corn.

It's a pencil. A No. 2 pencil, most often associated with the tediousness of spelling words and math problems.

My 10-year-old self found it difficult to absorb.

It was a bitter Halloween pill to swallow, a lesson in unfairness that life occasionally dumps in your plastic pumpkin.

Later at home, I threw the pencil out and dug into the good stuff (including the king-sized Snickers I finally scored).

But I never forgot that most disappointing of Halloween treats.

In the years since I stopped trick-or-treating, the qualifications of a good Halloween treat haven't changed that much. Sugar, and lots of it, is still the black cat's meow for most children.

Local elementary students are all about chocolate (the bigger the better), and most agree that candy corn and fruit are at the bottom of their yum lists.

Third-grader Madison Foote was clear on her Halloween treat requirements.

"On Halloween you're supposed to get candy, not apples," said Madison, a student at Clippard Elementary.

Other students, like fourth-grader Jaylen Flye, say Reeses peanut butter cups are among their favorites.

Franklin Elementary third-grader Jamie Wachter loves suckers because, according to Wachter, you don't chew them.

There are several key tricks to help avoid being the bad treat house on your block.

* Don't give out pencils or fruit unless it's covered in caramel. Is it healthy? No. But it's OK to let loose.

* Don't make the happy children on your block do a trick for their treat. They hate that.

* Variety is the spice of Halloween. Grab bags full of candy are bound to offer a little something for every child's taste.

And for Halloween parties, Tawra Kellam, founder of www.livingonadime.com, offers these cheap ideas:

Bloody popcorn

Add red food color to melted butter and pour over popcorn.

Brains

Scramble eggs with some green, yellow and blue food coloring.

Toxic juice

Add green food coloring to lemonade for a spooky color.

Bloody eyeballs

Boil cherry tomatoes for 30 seconds. Allow to cool, then peel the skins.

Deviled eyeballs

Make deviled eggs, then add a green olive with pimento in the center to form the "eyeball."

Aimee Reinhardt is a student at Southeast Missouri State University interning with the Southeast Missourian.

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