You did it. You braved the freezing weather in your skimpy ballerina costume, or perhaps warmer than usual weather under your furry gorilla garb. You might stink due to the combination of a spandex superhero suit that didn’t breathe, or the nasty greasepaint you put on your face three hours ago. You’re possibly a little worse for the wear, sporting more than one Halloween badge of courage. Maybe you cut your tongue on the breathing and talking-hole cutout of your hard plastic mask; you know, the one with the single string of elastic that probably broke before you hit the third house in your neighborhood?
Or perhaps you stepped in a mud puddle wearing only your blue fuzzy Smurf house shoes – the ones you thought were a perfect finale for your blue sweats, blue face and white beard. You might have cuts or bruises, acquired from tripping over one too many steps on the dark sidewalks you ascended as you neared the front doors of a hundred neighbors. You may have ripped your costume in four places or cracked your tiara right up the middle.
None of this matters. What matters is that your pillow case, your plastic pumpkin with black paint flaking off the eyes, or your neatly crafted candy bag with the stuffed ghost on the side is bursting at the seams and making your arms ache from carrying it for 27 city blocks… It is now time. It’s time to pour it out on the floor of your bedroom in its bountiful splendor, look lovingly at the treasure, and start your Halloween candy sorting ritual.
- Chocolate bars – these are the “exchange units” of all other candy types. They are the golden standard to which everything else is compared. You put all of them together and do a quick calculation as to how many you’re going to keep for yourself, how many you’ll need to hide from the chocolate-loving freak in your family, and how many you might use to trade with your friends or siblings for other treats on low-inventory status within your stash. And, depending upon your particular sweet tooth, you might make an extra pile for your favorite no-exchanges, no-returns bars. For my kids, these were the Reese’s cups. No amount of cajoling would get me even a crumb of a Reese’s cup.
- Sour stuff – these are still valuable, but slightly below the chocolate. Included in this pile are the SweetTarts, Smarties, Sprees, Pixie Sticks, Sour Gummy Worms, etc. While still valuable, it usually takes a few of these to trade for one chocolate bar. Sometimes several. At this point, because they’re not the prime standard, you probably treat yourself to at least one packet of SweetTarts, praying that at least two of the three pieces inside the tiny packet are colors you like.
- Suckers – Blow Pops, DumDums, Lifesaver Lollipops, Tootsie Rolls…you carefully pick through your stack until you find every one of your suckers. You have fun with them by arranging them into spirals on the floor, or placing them in gradually decreasing mass size, down to the tiniest ones. You think about sticking them into your ponytail the next morning (or not), and you anxiously look around to make sure you have at least one cherry flavored blow-pop and tootsie roll. Find them? You might hide those too.
- Good Little Stuff – Your pile is looking messy so it’s time to start sorting the “pea-gravel.” You quickly look through the pile and pull out all the Hershey’s minis, the Hershey’s kisses, the hard candy you like, the prime bubble-gum brands, the Jolly Rancher’s and anything else of value. The entire time you’re hoping that the “good” little stuff outnumbers the “icky” little stuff. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But you always hope.
- Icky Little Stuff – For me, this is where those orange and black wrapped peanut butter taffies go. Also included is the single Bit-O-Honeys and the little packages of candy corn. That’s just me. For you? Who knows…but you know you have them. The ickies are the candy that you know you’ll either give away, beg off to someone as a “bonus” when trading other pieces, or might eventually turn hard, stale and go in the trash in February. You do your best to find any last redeeming value from this pile, but usually by this time the ickies have sorted themselves out and are the last remaining candy on your floor.
Task complete, you lean back and assess your candy bank account. Was it a good year or a year of famine? You look down at your muddy Smurf house shoes, rub your bruised ankle, glance once again across the beautiful bounty of your effort and smile. You are the king or queen, and this is your treasure. Now you know exactly what it’s worth, and begin your plotting on how you’ll steward this beautiful booty.
Okay, there’s just one problem with this picture. Where do you put these weird red wax lips wrapped in cellophane?!