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What the Candy You Steal from Children on Halloween Says About You 

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There are three kinds of adult Halloween candy theft. There is snatching, the outright reaching into a bag/plastic Jack O'Lantern/pillowcase or sorting pile — sometimes this is done in a brazen smash and grab, sometimes surreptitiously with an offer of, "I'll hold your cauldron." Next there is the con, telling a child their candy will go to the Tooth Fairy, the needy or some invented candy monster who must be appeased with fun-size treats. Then there is embezzling. This is where many non-guardian culprits operate, cherry picking the Twix from a salad bowl by the door, then flipping off the porch light at 7:45 p.m. when they hit bottom.

Trades, unfair as they may be when negotiated with small children, are, like the rest of capitalism, not technically stealing. But you know what you did. And if you have informed said child that Mounds Bars are technically filled with vegetables, that goes under con.

Which Halloween candies drive us to toss our moral compasses like a roll of toilet paper over a rooftop reveal more about our character. Only beware — when you look into the candy bag, the candy looks into you.

Peanut Butter Cups: You are a creature of duality. On the outside, you're even tempered, sweet and mellow. But inside, you're salty as hell. Embrace it.

M&Ms: Ah, the good old days. The M&M, plain or peanut, speaks to your longing for simpler times when you had little to no idea what was going on. Listen to how they click together like the beads of an abacus you don't know how to use. So soothing.

Black Licorice: This is the most Goth of candies, little twists of black hole that numb the tongue and blot out whatever flavors might follow. Those in thrall to its smoky Eldritch flavor don't care that large doses can prove toxic, for they crave the void.

Hot tamales/Fireballs: It feels like a gimme to say you are a volatile cocktail of emotions but be honest — hot cinnamon candy is for the passionate, those who ping-pong between extremes. Given your volcanic nature, a small fire in your mouth just feels leveling.

Fruit Juice-Sweetened Gummies: To the untrained eye, eschewing corn syrup and Red Dye No. 5 for these bland, dun-colored pectin blobs seems like righteous martyrdom. But I see the violence in you, compressed under a layer of carob. And we both know one day you will snap.

Skittles: The offspring of Starburst and M&Ms is for the romantic, the idealist whose imagination is goosed by a handful of pixie dust bombs. You're not crashing, you simply need more Skittles. Fly, you beautiful rainbow butterfly! Fly!

Sweet Tarts/Smarties: You are at peace with the fleeting nature of existence, just as you are at peace with the pale pastilles dissolving on your tongue. You cling to nothing. There is no "I," you are free.

Sour Patch Kids: The official candy of charming extroverts and introverts who need a bracing jolt of tartness to socialize. Only take care you don't chase the sour dragon into Warheads territory because that is self-harm.

Hershey Mini Bars or Kisses: You could be mistaken for basic but for your willingness to risk a fleck of tinfoil clinging to the waxy chocolate to be ground between your molars. Ask yourself — do you fear the shiver of metal or does some part of you need the danger to feel alive?

Snickers: Nougat, caramel, nuts, chocolate — this is the candy of a hedonist for whom, according to William Blake, "The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom." He writes, "You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough." It's a personal journey but we're pretty sure even Blake would agree 12 is enough.

Candy Corn: You are not only in touch with your inner child but currently flailing around a bouncy house with them, and neither of you knows where your shoes are. You are a joy but you need supervision.

Wax Candy: How far are you from a police station? Turn yourself in and keep the public safe.

Mary Janes/Bit-O-Honey: Pluck open the wax paper wrapper and join the long line of old people with pockets and purses filled with cellophane-wrapped butterscotch they press into the hands of children whose parents they have not consulted. You are an old soul. Like really old.

Tootsie Rolls: This is one of the cheapest candies available in bulk, the taffy version of instant hot cocoa with the visual appeal of a busted brown crayon. You are a survivor. When civilization collapses, you will remain, invulnerable, dreamless, eternal.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Instagram @JFumikoCahill and on Mastodon @jenniferfumikocahill.

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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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