The Great Halloween Trade

The Great Halloween Trade

Happy Halloween!

OK, technically I guess it’s officially the day after Halloween if you’re reading this Friday post.  And if you reside in the US like me, you’re also probably wallowing in mountains of candy, either brought in by little ones, or drowning in leftover treats and decorations from the festivities of the previous evening.  Maybe you don’t know what the heck to do with all that leftover candy supposedly earmarked “for the trick-or-treaters” from last night.

Or perhaps some of you are tucking into your fourth “fun-sized” Twix of the morning for breakfast.  Mmmmm.  The milk chocolate caramel biscuit goes so well with tea and coffee, doesn’t it?

These days, I try to resist the path of self-rationalization that whispers: “Snack-sized candy bars are harmless and oh so tasty and perfect to keep around.  And besides it was on SALE!”  This path of reasoning is always a sure fire way to ensure a sugar hangover, and an extra fun-sized Snickers headache.

My current philosophy is that if the bag is left unopened and I still manage to have the receipt, I’m returning it to the store!!  Leftover Halloween candy can do no good, especially if it’s been sitting out in a huge communal bowl.

How very grown-up and responsible of me.  And you know what?  This realization made me a little sad because I realized that I had somehow officially become a grown-up adult.  When did that happen?!

I wasn’t always this responsible, anti-candy adult.  In fact, I loved Halloween growing up.  I wasn’t as into the whole dressing up and costume bit (a minor inconvenience.)  But I knew what really counted: for me it was all about accumulating lots of different varieties of candy.  My favorite part of the evening was laying out all my plunder into a giant pile and then sorting out and categorizing all of my candy into type.  Next was to rank the categories by order of preference, which would prove immensely useful in subsequent trading and rationing activities.

Yes, even as a kid I tended to nerd-out and make inventory lists of my Halloween candy.  And I was trained as a delayed gratification sort of kid who ate and savored my favorite “Top Tier” candies last and only after I consumed all the not-so-tasty candies.  And if I did some smart trading and rationing that year, my Halloween candy would sometimes last through Thanksgiving, which resulted in perfect timing in anticipation of turkey and Christmas presents just around the corner.

And if you’ve ever doubted the analytical prowess required in serious Halloween candy trading, read this NPR article.  Being an active participant in the secondary market in Halloween candy is a terrific way for kids to learn about basic economics, supply and demand.  It also offers a practical real-life lesson on negotiation, and how and why most of us try to long Snickers and short Smarties (which incidentally I dub The Great Halloween Trade.)  It’s just extremely hard to find some poor soul to take the opposite side of the trade.  This is exactly why trading opponents/friends with peanut allergies are so crucial to the formula of the trade!

And just in case you missed it, this Buzzfeed video does a pretty good job of outlining the technical dynamics of the Great Halloween Trade, complete with brilliant funny chart as well.  One of my favorite lines from the clip: “If your opponent says they like Special Darks, be kind to them.  They’ll probably be your boss someday.”

For an even more detailed candy hierarchy chart, this hilarious guide entitled “The Candy Hierarchy 2012” breaks down the Halloween candy universe into more detailed subcategories and ranks them by preference.  And from most candy traders’ perspective, Smarties, Necco Wafers, raisins, pennies and candy corn all pretty much suck, and are relegated towards the bottom of the hierarchy.


So for those of you parents who don’t like Halloween or who don’t allow your kids candy or to participate in trick or treating events, I’d encourage you to rethink your strategy.  Safety concerns aside, there are still some valuable life lessons and economics to be learned.  I know that I learned some of them quickly, particularly the value of certain things (types of candy, time and thought invested in costumes, etc.)

And you certainly don’t want to be that house on the block that sends out offensive fat-shaming messages to children, either.

As an adult candy-giver these days, DH and I like to hand out candy that we loved to grab and trade for as kids (Snickers, Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.)  But that also sometimes leads to us overeating the leftover candy that doesn’t get handed out.  But we’ve vowed to do the healthy and mature thing this year, and to return all the unopened candy back to the store.  Sad I know, but it’s better than gorging on candy and then feeling sick.

And even though I’ve vowed to tone down my candy consumption, it still beats waiting around all night in the cold for the Great Pumpkin, right?  Just ask Sally Brown or Linus van Pelt.

Happy Friday and have fun sorting/itemizing/trading/and finally eating your Halloween booty!