DEFY S. McQUAID! #57: A History of Fear

The Question

Dear Shaun,

I have some burning questions about Halloween. I know the usual 2nd grade equivalent of All Hallow’s Eve, but I want to know more about where it originated and for what purpose. In addition, I’m particularly interested in how the transition from scary costumes (ghosts, bats) to less scary (Smurfette – what I am this year) and plain stupid (post-its, fish) came about. Further, what is the most popular candy given out on halloween? And moreso, what is the ettiquette for people living in apartments or top floors of houses? How are they supposed (are they?) logistically give out candy??


The Answer

Wow, Theresa, you have somehow managed to sneak at least 3 questions into one. Bravo!

Scary costumes were the norm for Halloween until around the 70’s. Somehow, the 70’s were scary enough, and people decided that it might be a good idea to go goofy. Hence, He-Man made his appearance at Halloween. This was not a good move, since He-Man wasn’t much less frightening than the Grim Reaper himself, but it was a start.

The most popular candy in the past has always been that friendly, reliable Snickers. HOWEVER! Your question comes at an opportune time, since Snickers has been body-slammed from the top quite recently, not once, but TWICE! In 2004, Snickers was relegated to #2, as Candy Corn took the top slot. And THEN, to add insult to injury, in 2005 the Lemon Head took #1! Amazing!

One way that some high-rise apartment buildings handle Halloween is that they create a “list” of some kind where “residents” can sign “up” to “receive” Halloween “trick-or”-treaters.

Okay, done with the quotation marks. Sorry.

The “list” mechanism (My finger slipped! Honest!) is generally enough to get hordes of children into an apartment building, completely disregarding the list and banging on every door in the place, demanding sweets.

Generally, etiquette calls for residents of high-rise buildings to have candy available in a volume proportional to the resident’s floor. For example, a resident on floor 7 needs less candy than someone on the first floor. Keep in mind that the top floor is a kid magnet, so the same rules apply for the top floor as the bottom floor.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion you’ve been experiencing. It appears that you asked this question around Halloween of 2005. Hmm….have I been this lax with question answering?

One thought on “DEFY S. McQUAID! #57: A History of Fear

  • 7/6/2006 at 9:03 pm

    Hey Shaun, thanks so much for the awesome response to this question. I’m pleased to learn that so many people have acknowledged how awesome the snickers is. Your response is fab. Thanks much. Also, its good to know about the apartment situation. In my new second floor place, I will have more candy available than previously (3rd floor). Muchas gracias.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *