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Luna’s got special treat for us all today. It’s an excerpt from his latest story, Joe Vampire: Halloweenie.

One aspect of Halloween that even vampiration couldn’t mow over for me is the edibles, naturally. Now that I own a home, I’ve been on both sides of the trick-or-treating door, and of course, I’ve overthought the whole concept.

I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t.

When it comes to the trick-or-treating Best Practices of Halloween Candy Distribution—or HCD, as I like to irritatingly refer to it—any Treater worth their sugar can tell you how things stack up on several different fronts. I may be headed into the Land of Redundancy here, but since the topic of What Kind of Candy Will the Ashers Give This Time? has arisen, I feel it’s my obligation as both a former Treater and a current Hander to warn others out there who may not realize the damage they’re doing to the childhoods of others when they hand out crap.

I’m blogging about how much it affected my Wonder Years even as I enter my middle-age years, so obviously it has a mighty impact.

Then again, I still wear Superman pajamas and read comic books, so I might not be the best representative of a mature lifestyle.

True that I’m well past the age of harvesting suburban beggar-food, but I feel compelled to share a few handy instructions with the Treaters in the house.

  • Size It All Up—With Halloween candy, as with much in life—and despite rumors to the contrary—size TOTALLY matters. The Hander who palms a full-on candy handful is likely to see much more action than the Hander who doles out bite-sized tidbits. Of course, depending on the size of the crowd, you might have a lot of sugar to distribute. Having seen the whole equation in action, I can say with authority that it’s safe to make the full- vs bite-sized decision based on your own wants and needs. It’s no revelation that the houses that give out full-sizers will always be hit first, and hit heavy. This means if a Hander has blown the whole wad on a dozen full-sizers, only a lucky few will reap the rewards. So Treaters: get in while you can. Keep your ear to the ground from the moment you step off the curb and listen closely for any chatter about the Houses of Full-Size. Then, alter your route accordingly to get in early. You don’t want to be the only one walking in your crew away with an empty bucket while all of your friends gloat over how much bigger their Chunkys are than your teeeeeeeny bag of Sugar Babies. Nobody feels good about their little package at times like this.
  • Make the Trades—Sometimes you get a full-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only to learn there’s no second cup in the package. It’s a singlet. Tricky shit, huh? No harm there, though. Just buddy up and find another solo, either in your bucket, or in a friend’s. Trade him your Twizzlers for his Cup. Tell him they’re better for his skin because they’re not made of chocolate, and remind him that his mother says it constipates him, anyway. Then revel in your dastardly brilliance as you get your chocolate in your own peanut butter, and your peanut butter in your own chocolate. Twice!
  • Don’t be greedy—Listen: we all have bills to pay. Inflation isn’t ever going to be in line with the cost of living. As kids, we don’t really give two shits about that stuff. We take what we can find, even if it means scavenging candy bought with someone else’s Social Security check. So be at least a little appreciative, and keep in mind that not everyone wants to fund your college education in candy. If you feel your stash is a little low, go around a second time. But a third pass is not only bound to get you recognized, it’ll also get you labeled a mooch for all the Halloweens to follow. That shit can haunt you as you enter the work force. Something to think about.

Once you’ve made it through your own personal Candyland, the real fun begins: The Sorting. There isn’t a Treater out there who doesn’t know the heart-palpitating rush of dumping their haul all over the kitchen table and seeing that candy chaos come together in a little corn syrup universe as the elements separate and start to make sense. In the Asher tradition, we used a simple categorizing method to make the process go smoother. Everything was segregated into:

  • Chewy —Your Twizzlers, Starburst, Dubble Bubble, etc.
  • Crunchy —Your Heath, Jolly Ranchers, suckers, et al.
  • Crispy —Your Krunch Bars, Kit-Kat, Whatchamacallit, and the like.
  • Carmely — Your Milky Way, Twix, Snickers, and so on.
  • Chocolatey – Your Hersheys, Special Dark, Chunky, and such.
  • and Dots—Unless you want your jaw permanently clamped shut by those little hell nuggets, you should just throw them all in a bag and leave them on someone’s doorstep. Let some other desperate soul deal with the dental bills.

Inevitably, there will be the Unwanted: a pile of crap that hardly qualifies as candy, let alone candy befitting a holiday as significant as Halloween. Bit O’Honeys are in this category, as are those hard candies with the disgusting “fruit-flavored” ooze in the middle. They’re the Friend Zone of trick-or-treating. People who hand out evil like that either hate candy, or they hate kids, or they hate Halloween. And if you reach into your bucket and feel slippery wax paper sliding around with little twists at the ends? Consider yourself pwned. Someone’s grandma ran out of everything worthwhile (if she even started with any) and emptied her purse into the bowl just before you rang her bell. You can bet your bottom dollar this abomination is more petrified than dinosaur poop. You’d be better off with a box of raisins or a 1940s dime. Best to focus elsewhere and appreciate the pieces of your haul that might be of actual value.

Once you’ve organized your bounty, it’s time to Assess the Array, as I like to call it. I follow a helpful hierarchy of Candy Superiority. I don’t usually give out information this sensitive over the internet. But you seem like good people, so I’ll go ahead and let you in.

My perfect candy food pyramid goes thusly:

  • Snickers, Twix, Musketeers, Milky Way—It’s no secret that these are the holy quadrangle of candy collection. You’re sure to find tons of these babies in your load, sometimes in full-sized glory. Hallelujah to you if you do…you’ve done the Treating right! More than likely, you find them in large quantities of bite-size portions. No matter. If you collect up a handful and eat them all at once, it’s as good as getting a full-sizer. Eat them sparingly, though. You want the good times to last as long as possible.
  • M&Ms—Who doesn’t love to shovel these pups into their mouth and just crunch-crunch-crunch to their heart’s content? It’s like eating a mouthful of bugs made of chocolate with candy coating for exoskeletons (at least it was before the animated M&Ms came along and made things awkward). Bite-sized packs can be your friend in this instance, since you can carry them around in all kinds of pockets and other various hiding spots for ready snacking at a second’s notices. But there’s a definite disparity when they come in this form: with Plain, there’s a decent amount of sweetness to be had in a single package. Peanut, though? What are there, three of the little fuckers in there? Who the hell eats three M&Ms and says, “My, that was satisfying!” Your best bet is to empty all the packages into a bowl and scoop them out by the handful. Show that talking candy who’s boss.
  • Payday — A pleasant enough also-ran when it comes to bars. If it turns out you’ve over-chocolated, the nougat-caramel-peanut combo can cleanse your palate and get you ready for the next course. Just make sure it’s a fresh bar. You could push a stale Payday through a car window without even trying. Imagine what it could do to your teeth. Your parents won’t be getting your orthodontia redone just because you made poor life choices. Be careful, and be safe.
  • Skittles—I save these beautiful sons of bitches and make them last until Christmas. I can’t say enough good things about them, and I get teary just trying. So I’ll stop before I ruin everyone else’s good time with my maudlin corn-pone candy worship.

Once all the work is finished, there’s nothing left but the sugar shock. If you’re careful and conservative with your indulgence, you’ll be rolling in love until the next big holiday swings around a few months later. If you’re careless and crappy, you can easily jump into your stash and eat your way to the bottom in three weeks’ time. Neither tack is wrong; it all depends on your preference, although I’ve made the mistake, as we all have at one time or another, of eating the whole shebang before the third of November.

I learned the hard way that it’s a trip to the toilet you don’t want to take twice.

And the, there’s the post-collection withholding. Maybe it’s not the best idea to load up on corn syrup and palm kernel oil before heading off to dreamland. But let’s be fair: a few pieces in the hours after the Treating is finished isn’t going to do any permanent damage. I’ve known many families who adhere to the One Piece Before Bed principle, even though their kids could restock half a Costco with the cache they’ve stashed. That’s like throwing a gazelle at a lion twenty minutes before the zoo closes and telling him, “Just nibble it for now.”

Not only is it cruel, it’s ridiculously out of touch with the reality of Halloween. Those little Treaters have put in their time as candy hunters. They deserve to taste the spoils of their labor.

Make them eat vegetables for breakfast to balance things out, if you must.

But don’t deny them their just reward.

All my candy chat is making me hungry. Off I go to find something sweet to nosh on. Which means I’ll probably clear out the full-sized stash Chloe rounded up as this year’s contributions to the cause.

One of the perks of being the Hander.

I hope this information has helped you put your Treating and HCD thoughts together in a meaningful manner. And if it’s flown completely over your head? Well…you’ll figure it out.

We all work through things like this in our own way.

 

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Pick up the rest of the story for your Kindle and find out how the Dude Vampire reconciles his lost love for the greatest holiday in the whole wide year.

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