Popcorn Balls
October 31, 2001 5:43 AM   Subscribe

They aren't hermetically sealed in plastic, so most trick-or-treaters nowadays will never have heard of popcorn balls. But if you live in a trusting community, why not whip up a batch to give away tonight? (Hey, it's gotta be better than Snickers.) What's your favorite obscure Halloween treat? (that isn't pancakes.)
posted by darukaru (44 comments total)
That site must be getting hammered right now. Took a lot of refreshing just to get anything to come up.

Cool, I remember these. Might have to make some.
posted by tpoh.org at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2001

Pennies. Given out by old ladies.

And Peanut Chews. Nothing like driving by a bunch of trick-or-treaters and pelting them with Rosenberg's finest.
posted by dogmatic at 6:01 AM on October 31, 2001

Having lived in a big geek house with a bunch of friends in college, I used to dread having to go out specifically to buy bags of candy (problem being, they couldn't be too good or we'd eat it all). However, after living in secured apartment buildings for the past four years, I must say I miss the ritual and it feels weird to be completely devoid of it (parents and children aren't keen on having to "buzz a stranger in number 4, ask for candy, and wait for someone to come down to give it to them").
posted by mathowie at 6:08 AM on October 31, 2001

The popcorn balls are always the first thing to be thrown in the trash at my house. Lame, and possible hiding place for poison and/or razorblades.

O.K. So I'm paranoid...

What's the weirdest/lamest thing you remember getting at Halloween? I seem to remember getting toothbrushes from the town dentist...
posted by jpburns at 6:11 AM on October 31, 2001

For tonight, I made popcorn balls (with M&M's in them), chocolate-covered Chex Mix, and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. I typically attach my name and address and phone number to each handmade item, and these are reserved for the neighborhood kids (I live in a fairly close-knit neighborhood). I also have Baby Ruths, Snickers and Butterfingers, and we have Decorated To Excess.

I'm just an overgrown kid at heart.
posted by ebarker at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2001

It's true, back in the good old days we used to get all kinds of homemade goodies in our sacks. Cookies, rice krispie treats, popcorn balls, etc. Although I preferred the higher sugar content of the manufactured stuff.

Strangest treat I ever got: a raw potato wrapped in tin foil.

And yes, there was a house where an old German couple lived, and they gave out pennies. One. Penny. Each.

This year: individually wrapped tablets of Cipro?
posted by groundhog at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2001

Well jpburns, I remember getting a potato from a neighbor when I was around 10, that was lame. I also got a package of those green plastic army men the same year....wait a minute, the army men were awesome!!!
posted by Benway at 6:20 AM on October 31, 2001

Strangest Trick or Treat Items: A Hare Krishna family lived in my neighborhood, complete with weird photos of Hare Krishna VIP's over the mantle, and always gave out a ginger bread cookie and Hare Krishna literature. Perfect for 10 year old children. Also, someone in neighborhood used to give out rockin' popcorn balls, but I knew them, so I ate them. But as I got older, I felt sorry for all the work they did, knowing that many people probably threw them out.
posted by bob bisquick at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2001

My mother once decided to go nuts one Holloween and made cotton candy for the kids in the neighborhood. She rented one of those industrial sized carnival cotton candy machines and set it up in the kitchen. The only problem was she didn't know how to use it right so the majority of the candy ended up hanging from the celing and walls like cobwebs. I was tempted to throw a couple of plastic spiders into the mess and bring my friends over for a "haunted house" and eat the "cobwebs" in front of them all.
posted by KnitWit at 6:37 AM on October 31, 2001

The old woman who gave out Pepsi's was my favorite, up until I dropped my bag and all my candy ended up soaked.

Damn her.
posted by Mark at 6:41 AM on October 31, 2001

One year, when I was about 6 and my sister 10, we got Chick comics in our bags, in a little sandwich bag with an orange in it.

That was the one and only time I remember my parents not letting us eat something.
posted by ebarker at 6:48 AM on October 31, 2001

I really dig pumpkin mallows--y'know, the generic pumpkin-shaped things that bear a surface resemblance to candy corns but are superior in every way? They're cheap, full of sugary goodness, and make excellent projectiles once they've hardened into stale little blobs.
posted by disarray at 6:53 AM on October 31, 2001

Ah, Chick comics. I found those once or twice in my bag.

So, does anyone still give out Smarties? Those little cylindrical packets of about ten pastel, not-very flavorful disks? Those were always a staple of trickortreating in the late 70's. I remember being left with mounds of those after the first-class candy (read: chocolate) had been consumed.
posted by BT at 7:08 AM on October 31, 2001

Man, my kids got those Chick comics with NO candy from 3 different houses last year. If you're gonna proselytize to little kids, at least make with the Reese's! Oh, and my vote goes to the caramels with that super-sweet Crisco like substance in the middle of them.
posted by timmy at 7:12 AM on October 31, 2001

Once I got a 7" single of the Batman theme song, complete with the lesser known 'Robin's Theme' on the B-side.
posted by spilon at 7:14 AM on October 31, 2001

Caramel Creams, Timmy. Those rule. Lamest treat ever: My neighbor came over last year with treats for our kids, since when they'd orginally knocked on her door she was out: Cans of diet orange soda. Storebrand. And warm.

Hey! Thanks!
posted by luser at 7:18 AM on October 31, 2001

ebarker, I love you.

Man. Puffed-rice balls the Hallowe'en I was in first grade, made by a neighbor lady on our street. My brother even gave me his. I miss Hallowe'en treats like those. Maybe for our next church Hallowe'en festival...
posted by alumshubby at 7:39 AM on October 31, 2001

I can't get over the fact that more than one person got a potato. A potato?
posted by Doug at 8:04 AM on October 31, 2001

i loved the popcorn balls. Its always weird for me to talk about Halloween with my friends. Most of them grew up in big cities or even medium sized cities. I grew up in a very small town. No one thought twice about going to every house we could, my parents never checked through my loot before I got to it.
posted by jbelshaw at 8:15 AM on October 31, 2001

my neighbors owned a kiwi farm and gave out kiwis each year.

every morning after we'd find about five of them that confused kids threw on own lawn.

they were damn good kiwis.
posted by fishfucker at 8:24 AM on October 31, 2001

Wait. Kiwis or kiwis?
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:33 AM on October 31, 2001

here in my region of newfoundland, canada, you can get worms and dirt. its gummi worms in a bowl with the crushed bits of the cookie part of the oreo (no filling). i don't know how common this is, but i think its great. you can grab a handful as you get your chips or whatever, and munch happily to the next house.
posted by three| at 8:34 AM on October 31, 2001

a raw potato wrapped in tin foil

i know what i'm handing out tonight.

i remember seeing bags of individually wrapped popcorn balls in the Halloween aisle of Hell-Mart last year (or maybe the year before). they were kind of small, baseball sized, whereas the ones i used to get as a kid where softball sized or bigger. they (the one's at Hell-Mart) didn't look so appetizing, like tiny, shriveled, dried out popcorn balls, like the way plums become prunes, ya know? yeck.
posted by tolkhan at 8:36 AM on October 31, 2001

i am all about the tootsie roll pops. i don't know if many people still buy or eat them anymore, but i do. in fact, i've picked out all the cherries to make sure they won't be given out -- and i'm sucking on one right now.

cruel i.
posted by moz at 8:43 AM on October 31, 2001

Nothing could ever compare with opening your trick-or-treat bag the morning after and taking a big whiff...then scarfing some Bottle Caps, a mini Snickers, and a couple rolls of Smarties before breakfast.
posted by judomadonna at 8:43 AM on October 31, 2001

the trick was always to go out with a group that had varying tastes, that way you could trade at the end of the night.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:06 AM on October 31, 2001

Oh yeah, and then there was the Dentist who lived in our neighborhood that always gave out dental floss and toothbrushes. We would repay the favor by egging his house later on...

But back to the present time: In the neighborhood I live in now, most of the trick-or-treaters don't even dress up. They just show and demand candy...

Them: "Trick or treat!"
Me: "Oh, what are you dressed up as?"
Them: "School children!"

I always give 'em candy anyway, because I know from experience that eggs can be hard to wash off...
posted by spilon at 9:13 AM on October 31, 2001

There was one elderly lady on our block that would always bake amazing cookies and brownies for Halloween (Everyone knew her so we were always allowed to eat them). One year her oven was on the fritz, so she actually made no-bake, chilled treats. They were awesome.
posted by treedream at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2001

I must salute the lasting ickiness of those mysterious black-and-orange wrapped taffy things. I don't think I ever ate one of those bad boys, but I heard tell one little boy ate one and turned into a Nagano Snow Monkey, and was forced to live out his life relaxing in strangers' hot tubs on the snow covered mountainsides of Japan, alone and afraid with snow in his fur. It's true!
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:32 AM on October 31, 2001

once i got a hot dog made of chewing gum. it was actual size, and the gum hot dog was affixed to the gum bun with some sort of industrial adhesive.
posted by bluishorange at 9:39 AM on October 31, 2001

In the Bible Belt, there was always one house which handed out little scripture pamplets instead of candy. And for some reason, that house always seemed to get rolled...
posted by sixdifferentways at 9:40 AM on October 31, 2001

I think this may be only for the Canadians, but there was one house on our route that would always give out Thrills gum.

We used to have competitions of who could chew the most pieces at once. Foul tasting stuff.

A coworker brought some into the office recently, and even though the packaging has changed (it now says "tastes like soap" like it's a feature) the flavour is still the same.
posted by kaefer at 9:41 AM on October 31, 2001

One lady in my neighborhood left a bowl of nickels in front of her house on Halloween, with a note that read "I'm gone tonight, so take a nickle (only one!!)". We got there pretty late in the evening and, incredibly, it looked like no one had yet raided it. Ah, the good old days.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2001

definitely fried eggs and beer.

apple bobbing? apple bobbing!
posted by modge at 10:38 AM on October 31, 2001

A few years ago, I drove my daughter over to the rich neighborhood for trick-or-treating, knowing we'd score at least a few full-sized candy bars. It was my way of teaching her about economic disparity.
And then there was the year that the junior-high kids came by after ten. No costumes, and they were smoking. Ah, childhood.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:50 AM on October 31, 2001

The raw potato in tin foil was memorable, but this would have been traumatic.
posted by groundhog at 11:08 AM on October 31, 2001

Hey wait a minute!

I found (and blogged) that on the Idaho Potato website yesterday!

Also for your enjoyment: Spooky Spuds. woooooo!
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:33 AM on October 31, 2001

Hot damn, memories. So I'm not the only one who has set aside the stockpile of Tootsie Roll Pops for an out-of-candy emergency only! I have four cherry ones sitting next to me right now. But I guess I am indeed the only one who somewhat enjoys those black and orange wrapped taffy things with the peanut butter center. Hell, I bought a bag for myself just for nostalgia's sake. That, plus my dad was notoriously suspicious of all candy brought back after our foraging and set aside a sizable stockpile of "tainted" candy. Only after I woke up really late at night and saw him scarfing down the contents of the "tainted" stockpile did I realize I'd been duped. I tried that ritzy neighborhood idea one year and all I learned was that rich people are usually not home on Halloween. Didn't even leave a bowl out or anything.

The chewing gum hot dog story reminded me of something wholly unrelated. I learned recently that my cousin used to call himself "Bun" as a child instead of David. "Bun Larson." Good god. What's that? The men with the white coats are here? Okay, I'm ready...
posted by evixir at 12:31 PM on October 31, 2001

...then scarfing some Bottle Caps, a mini Snickers, and a couple rolls of Smarties before breakfast.

Mmmmm....Bottle Caps. Loved those. Maybe I can still find some in a store on the way home from work.
posted by dnash at 1:21 PM on October 31, 2001

My friend who's a National Guardsman was completely unprepared for the onslaught of kids one year - he and his roommates wound up raiding their pantry and giving out canned beans, potted meat, etc, along with his private stash of MREs. Mmmm, dehydrated.

I was a notoriously picky candy eater as a kid, and would give most of the haul to my Grandfather. I would keep the Mounds, Hershey's dark chocolate and Sugar Daddies. Oh, and Tootsie Pops and Bit O'Honeys I do remember getting quarters and apples...though most everyone in our neighborhood made with the candy.
posted by kittyloop at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2001

I grew up in a small town in Idaho, about 4000--and Ask Me About Small Towns In The Mormon Orbit is the subtext of my comment re small town life in MetaTalk--so long ago that masks were made of pressed cornstarch and melted around the nose by the end of the night... We had the two elderly couples that made us write our names down before getting two jellybeans. But then there were a couple of elderly couples that scared the bejesus out of you by jumping out the door in monster masks before piling on the goodies. And then there was the crazy bachelor uncle of one of the pioneer families--the scary Boo Radley of the town--who had you come in his kitchen, in the back of his scary Victorian house, lit by one upended flashlight where he and a buddy sat in crazy bachelor squalor and gave you a choice of one orange or one black jelly bean. Performance art decades before the phrase existed...

jpburns - get a grip: You know, if we repeat the Urban Legend long enough, some one acts out on it...
posted by y2karl at 5:50 PM on October 31, 2001

The worst thing we ever got was "Special Dark." Nothing says "don`t eat me" to a sugar crazed eight year old like bitter chocolate (and Hershey`s, at that.)

The best Halloween though was when we trick or treated my eighth grade science teacher and her Halloween party. If you ever get the chance to see your teacher`s drunk, I suggest you take it. She gave us normal size candy bars (she was expecting us). Of course, the same teacher also showed me (just last year) how to make a really killer margarita-like drink.
posted by chiheisen at 8:19 PM on October 31, 2001

y2karl :

I said I was paranoid...
posted by jpburns at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2001

In my neighbourhood, we had one slightly unhinged lady who used to give the same treat every year -- she would dump a ladle full of Hickory Sticks directly into your treat bag. Not only are Hickory Sticks a disgusting "treat" (even when given in a hygienic, sanitary, sealed package) loose, renegade Hickory Sticks, when ground in the sack of candy, become a fine, artificial-smoke flavoured potato powder that clings to and permeates everything.

posted by Sallyfur at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2001

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