I spent $20 on one bag of Halloween candy at Sam’s Club. The assortment contains all kinds of potions formulated to rot children’s teeth, from tastes-like-fruit-chews to jawbreakers that could be sold as marbles. I decided against buying the old favorites such as Snickers after the tongue lashing I took from a six year old last year. When the lil’ cowgirl approached my front step, she cheerfully asked if I handed out tricks or treats, and then gasped when I presented a snack-sized chocolate rectangle filled with….nuts.
“NO!” she screamed. “No peanuts! I’m allergic!”
Horrified, I dropped the candy bar back in the bowl, and searched for the child’s mother or father. A woman stood by the lamppost and smiled.
I frowned. Then what the hell are you doing out here?! I wanted to ask.
“I’m so sorry, honey,” I begged. “I’m glad you told me.”
I dug deep into the plastic bowl of poison and searched for something suitable. I found a dime and a plastic spider ring.
“Here,” I said, tossing both in her smiling pumpkin bucket. “It’s not much, but it won’t hurt you.”
The cowgirl mumbled a thank you and sulked off to her mother, who waved. “We’ve trained her well,” she called back.
Sure have. For a second, I wondered if I could be sued for dishing out candies containing highly allergic ingredients. It was enough to make me turn off the porch light, lock the doors and call my lawyer.
This year, I laughingly suggested we hammer a sign in the yard: WARNING: MAY CONTAIN NUTS. (House included).
All kidding aside, I am well aware of how dangerous peanut or tree nut allergies are, and I take these risks very seriously as I have a child with sensitivities of her own. Maryn can’t tolerate orange (fruit, juice, peel) or cow’s milk. When she comes into contact with citrus, she breaks out in a terrible rash, suffers facial swelling and eventually (as in seconds) — throws up. Milk promises a similar experience.
But thinking back to a time gone by, I don’t remember any of my young classmates suffering from food allergies. If they did, they didn’t discuss it, nor did the teachers remind us to be careful with our snacks or lunchbox contents. Our mothers made homemade treats for bake sales and other seasonal events, and kids who could have them forked over 25 cents and swallowed the goodies whole. Those who couldn’t consume these desserts simply didn’t partake of the marshmallow squares or chocolate chip cookies.
Our parents did check our loot following Trick or Treat. When I was a child, rumors of razor blade and needle-pierced candy dominated the 6:00 newscast, along with incidents of stickers containing drops of LSD. My mother and father never allowed me to go to people’s houses that were unfamiliar to us. They sifted through the candy to see what I scored that evening; my mother asking for Three Musketeers and my father searching for cash. He knew Auntie usually tossed a roll of pennies in my bucket. (Hey, it was better than Brach’s Jelly Nougats.)
As we got older, we cared more about the tricks than the treats. We never egged houses, but we did throw them at each other (well, eggs were thrown at me). We wrapped trees in toilet paper and streamers, and we’d write our school name in shaving cream on the sidewalks and streets (of our own homes). The worst trick we ever played was around election time, when we’d swap campaign signs in people’s yards. Some poor souls went to bed pulling for George Bush and woke up voting for Michael Dukakis.
That was the extent of it. But not anymore. Today’s trick or treater can be as old as 16, barely in costume, carrying a pillowcase to hoard candy….to snort and smoke.
I was shocked, too, especially when I discovered through Google searches that ”Smoking Smarties” and “Drunken Gummies” aren’t new trends among middle and high school-aged kids. Social media sites and YouTube videos demonstrate how to snort powdered candies and soak gummy bites in odorless vodka. Hundreds of how-to videos exist, I read.
The alcohol-infused gummy recipe was pretty straight forward, but smoking Smarties confused me. According to one parenting website, the pulverized tablets are inhaled and then blown out to mimic a puff of marijuana smoke. Kids also snort Smarties to simulate sniffing lines of cocaine. The danger with smoking or snorting candy dust is that particles can be inhaled into the throat and lungs, which over time can cause infections, chronic coughing and choking. This information was provided by a drug-free alliance group (author unknown).
Obviously, underage consumption of drunken gummies is illegal, but snorting powdered candy is not. It’s stupid and it’s dangerous, but it’s not against the law.
And because of this, I’m practicing my best Nancy Reagan impersonation to “JUST SAY NO!” to both types of candy this year. Now that I think about it, Auntie might have been onto something when she handed out rolls of pennies and dried up bricks of caramel that expired in 1984. The lil’ cowgirl who scolded me for handing out peanut-laced candy bars should be grateful that she got a dime and an orange colored spider ring that my daughter rejected. I have a feeling she knew all about the alternative uses of gummies and Smarties. Parents are the ones who will find themselves fooled.