Is Trick or Treating Becoming Extinct?

old retro trick or treaters kids on Halloween tradition
Would you really want to open yourself up to a trick
by this group? Just hand over the candy

One of the great annual joys from my childhood was Halloween. Getting dressed up in my choice of costume, getting together with my friends, posing for pictures for the parents and then being let loose on neighborhood doors to fill up our plastic pumpkins and pillow cases with as much candy as our little arms could carry.

We all knew we would be putting miles on our sneakers, ringing countless doorbells and not stopping until we couldn’t find any house with their lights still on. The yearly Trick-or-Treat Expedition was on!

I’m going to fall back on the overly used line that everyone is destined to use in their lifetime as they reflect back on events from years ago – ‘those were the days’.

Today it seems the art of ‘trick-or-treating’ is becoming a more and more rare occurrence to see. I recall my neighborhood being flooded with costumed kids roaming the streets going from house to house in their own groups scoring their treats. This past Halloween there was barely a trickle. I’m wondering if in a few more years that trick-or-treating spout will be turned completely off.

It seems today most very young kids are taken for their Halloween candy activity to a ‘trunk-or-treat’ event. It will take place in some pre-arranged parking lot, parents park their cars, open their trunks where they have their little Halloween setup and kids go from car to car to pick up their candy.

retro Halloween candy ad trick or treat
A normal Mom or a depraved killer?
It’s a risk trick or treaters
would be willing to take

It’s a nice little idea I suppose. At least you’re guaranteed candy when you goto one of these things. But once you hit all the cars I guess it’s all over and that’s the limit to your candy haul.

I was discussing with my friend about this and we weighed the pros and cons of it. We came to the conclusion that unless the trunk or treat event was taking place at the Giants Stadium parking lot and it was filled with thousands of cars with candy it wouldn’t be worth our time.

I’m not sure if the idea of trick-or-treating has just become such an antiquated idea that it has lost its allure for kids. It’s something they see Charlie Brown do, but not something they’re too interested in doing. Maybe there’s just other Halloween activities being offered like parties that kids today would rather go to.

Could it be we’ve gotten so wary and suspicious of strangers today we don’t want our kids to walk around our own neighborhoods knocking on doors, so parents are discouraging it? Who knows who will answer the door and what they’ll give to their kids! Sure, it could just be a regular old local townsfolk or maybe it will be Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill! Or perhaps most shocking of all – kids no longer feel it’s worth walking door to door to accumulate a bagful of candy! Is the world going insane???

In my day if Halloween happened to fall on a weekend it was extra special! All us kids knew we could spend even more time formulating a plan of attack, setting about to navigate the maze of streets in the most efficient manner. The parent warning of ‘you have school tomorrow’ couldn’t be used.

This years Halloween fell on a Friday and you would have thought they canceled the holiday and didn’t inform the seven trick-or-treaters that I saw that were keeping the door-to-door trick-or-treating tradition alive.

Trick-or-treating got the entire neighborhood involved whether they liked it or not. Every household could be a potential target for a little masked gang threatening ‘Trick-or-Treat’. No one wanted to spurn the group so if they were smart they would have a bowl of candy on hand to dish out. Sometimes they would actually run out of their reserve of candy they had on tap and would embarrassingly tell us that they simply didn’t have anymore. Kids would suck entire neighborhoods dry out of their candy. We were like little sugar vampires.

We always hated the houses who would give out loose change. That was usually older people who I guess never visited a candy aisle in the store. We would call those houses a bust.

Kids trick or treating tradition on Halloween
A group of kids in the 1960’s dressed up
and ready to ring some doorbells

Today after Halloween blows over I never hear anyone say they handed out all the candy in their house they had. It just doesn’t happen anymore. The usual remark is “I still have so much candy left.”

It’s great people still prepare for trick-or-treaters and are ready to serve them, but it’s become less and less a demand for bell-to-door candy service. People still decorate their homes for Halloween and look ready to take part of a night of trick-or-treaters, but the sidewalks are empty.

I’m predicting if there’s not some kind of dramatic turnaround somehow the art of trick-or-treating will vanish. Kids will spend their time in parking lots and parties on Halloween and get their treats that way.

The image of kids running from door-to-door, being greeted by homeowners, candy pieces being thrown into their bags and then kids comparing their hauls at the end of the night will be a thing of the past. Soon people will stop buying candy for flocking trick-or-treaters coming to their door figuring no one came last year, what’s the point? If I owned a candy company I would be a little worried about that.

But there will always be a few holdouts who still take great fun out of that old traditional Halloween trick-or-treating journey. And when the person answering the door tells them they don’t have any candy they better prepare themselves for the unexpected. It’s ‘Trick-OR-Treat!’. That’s the deal.

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1 Response

  1. Vince Nolan says:

    Sad to say, but I think the days of mass trick or treating for our younger brothers and sisters are definitely at an end….at least in many of the larger cities. Not only that, but do you really see kids wandering or running around the neighborhood anymore in packs, waiting for their mothers to call their names from the front or back door in the hopes that their kids will hear them three or four blocks away? These days if I see a young kid alone on the street my first thought is that they're lost or I wonder where their parents are. Unfortunately, Buffalo Bills are everywhere these days and the only way to be really keep kids safe is for parents to be at their side every moment. Sad, but true.

    I have a nine-years-old niece. She is pretty, blonde, blue-eyed and loved by everyone she meets because she's such a happy child. Unfortunately, the world has changed. Even when she's playing out front, I would never let her pout of my sight, even if I only ran inside real quick to get her a drink or a snack. If a parent I don't trust isn't out there watching, then my niece comes inside with me, even if only for a second or two. Maybe in the suburbs or much more rural areas of the country, there's still that sense of family and a community of people that you not only know well, but that you trust. I live in a metropolitan area near Manhattan and I don't know of any parent who would let a nine-year-old girl walk up to a stranger's door, especially after dark, and knock for candy in my neighborhood.

    This Web master is right:"Those were the good old days." I think that trick or treating is definitely going the way of Saturday morning cartoons. Is this a sign of the times, or a sign of the human condition? Well, maybe that's another blog waiting to be written.

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