Trick or Treat
Through 70s kid eyes, there were few things better than the annual collection of neighborhood candy while in costume. On those glorious October eves, some focused on the treats, others on the tricks. Either way, it was a holiday too good to miss.
The big question leading up to Halloween was always, “what am I going to wear?”
Since there were no Halloween super stores back then, you had two choices – either make your own costume (hobo, anyone?) or you could head to your nearest Woolworths, TSS or Woolco and look through stacks of carboard boxes.
The closer you got to the big day, the slimmer the choices were. Show up two weeks before the big day and towers of boxes would be there to greet you. Show up the day before, or worse, the day of, Halloween and you were going to find five or six already opened boxes with costumes like “Chipmunk” and “Mother Nature.” You would never find Bugs Bunny or Wonder Woman on the day before. Never. Trust me, I know from experience.
The vast majority of those boxed costumes, by the way, came from the Ben Cooper Costume Company in Brooklyn, NY. Sadly, they went out of business in 1992.
These boxed costumes had much in common – the razor sharp plastic mask that restricted your breathing – the elastic band that was sure to break about three houses into your holiday – the thin plastic smock that made up the rest of your look. It surely wouldn’t keep you warm, so you better bring that jacket if its cold. After all, the Incredible Hulk always wore a jacket when it was cold, right?
You also needed something to collect your bounty. There were fancy pumpkin shaped buckets back then, or you could just use a brown paper bag from the supermarket, but I believe the best collection device was the pillowcase. Flexible, not prone to tears or rips unless you whip it wildly at your friends, and could hold a good 5-10 lbs of candy and still ask for more.
And then you set out into that good night with your friends. We always hit the blocks closest to our house, then ventured out from there as far as our feet would take us. A few times, a mom would drop us off far away and let us walk home from there. The point being, we sometimes put miles on our shoes on Halloween, and I don’t think one of us every complained.
Now, when you are young, you are only thinking about the treats, but in later years, the tricks become more appealing for some. Most of it was harmless fun that required nothing more than some soap and water to combat, but like all mischievous ventures, things sometimes got out of hand.
The trinity of Halloween trick supplies was shaving cream, toilet paper, and eggs by the dozen. Some stores wouldn’t sell them to kids, but there was always a few that didn’t mind seeing their dairy, toiletries and shaving product sales soar sky high for a night. If tricks were your thing, a supplier was either nearby, or an older sibling might help you out. That’s the spirit!
Whether you tormented the town by way of eggs, or simply stockpiled Tootsie Rolls, Pixy Stix and SweeTarts for the cold winter ahead, Halloween was one of the most anticipated nights of the year, a holiday of which I hope you have nothing but fond memories, even if that damn elastic strap always broke.
What are your favorite memories of those 70s Halloweens? Did your costume come in a box or did you make your own. And were you more of a tricker or a treater? Always love to hear your memories in the comments section!
Wow. Shaving cream. I completely forgot abt that.
Going to my elementary school’s Halloween party. They setup games and such in a cafeteria cleared of its tables. Always enjoyed that, as well as going around our neighborhood with our Mom, who would take us afterward to the block where she grew up just a few minutes away across town. We got to do more Trick or Treating, and see our grandfather too . . . Fond memories . . .
We would sweat in those masks! Yes, sadly trick or treating stopped early in my neighborhood due to shaving cream and Nair fear…we also had to bring the candy home first to be cut to check for razor blades??! Crazy! I remember getting those awful bit-o-bats and peanut candy…bur so happy when the mini Krackle appeared!!
I remember Shaving Cream and Nair in the 80s. That sort of died out in the 90s. I also remember the scare in the early 80s of people supposedly putting pins in candy. This lead to a lot of homes giving out nickels and pennies which was a real bore. If you were lucky, you could collect a whole dollar. I also remember having to make my own costumes too. I stopped wearing those boxed ones by age 7. Also, decorations were limited to Jack o Lanterns and a carboard cut out on your front door. Kids don’t know how good they have it today.
I remember some kids would have socks filled with flour, and if you were smacked with that, it was painful! I was that classic hobo more than once and donned the plastic mask combo as well (a princess with blonde hair and pink plastic poncho). Good times!