Something fun: Halloween candy was a special treat

Hands up. How many of you have stolen candy from your kids’ Halloween stash? The fun-sized candy bars, right? Yeah. Like it was gold! Then smugly commented when your child accuses you of the theft: “I made you. You owe me.” Or something of the like.
Guilty. In my middle-class upbringing, candy wasn’t readily accessible. It wasn’t in the house. There wasn’t a candy aisle in the grocery store. At least not to the extent there is today. Mom didn’t stock candy in the pantry. There weren’t any candy bar-like granola bars, either. The closest thing we had was the bag of semi-sweet Nestle’s chocolate chips you might raid for a few chips here and there. And those were pretty scarce, too. Us kids only got candy on Easter, Christmas and Halloween.
Halloween candy earned during trick-or-treating? Score! My siblings and I put together our costumes, usually homemade, wiggling into old dresses mom had, digging for old hats, using tablecloths for capes, then mom’s makeup or a plastic mask from the dime store to disguise our face. Maybe mom or grandma did some crafty sewing to augment our creations.   
We knew which places had the best treats, candied apples and popcorn balls, and you hit those first before they ran out. There were those houses where a trick was demanded to earn your treat, a trade-off you’d have to weigh in regard to wasted time presenting your trick and waiting for others to get through the process. We ran between houses, across streets. Skipped the dentist who gave out toothbrushes. And when you learned apples or oranges were being handed out at a certain address, skipped them, too.
We swarmed over the neighborhood from sunset to 9 p.m. or whenever porch lights were turned off. There weren’t organized costume parades held downtown or at schools or churches to provide children safer trick-or-treat environs. Halloween meant that an excitement-charged horde of witches, gypsies, ghosts, cartoon characters and the like seethed through the darkness over a several block radius to acquire a treasure trove of sugary treats.
Once the night’s loot was maximized and time had expired for further collection, we hurried home. I’m sure it was cold out, but our layered clothing, adrenaline and running kept us plenty warm. At home, shucking out of our sweaty costumes, we kept our bag of hard-won treats clenched close. You didn’t let your candy out of your sight. Adults weren’t to be trusted, nor your siblings.
In solitude, you poured out your goodies onto the floor or bed in your room, and you began to sort and tally:  Snickers, Milky Ways, M&Ms, 3 Musketeers, Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Sweetarts, wrapped peanut butter kisses, packs of candy corn, Double Bubble gum, wax bottles of sweet liquids, Pixie Stix, Tootsie Pops, hard candy, on and on. Inevitably, we’d have to go to sleep, only to find the next morning our careful tally was off. Candy was missing!
We’d surrendered the apples and oranges to our parents the night before. But that wasn’t what they wanted. Mom and Dad, usually Dad, had pillaged our plunder. Or maybe it was my sister. They never confessed. After you got home from school, more candy was missing. The ravaging of your stores continued until you were down to the yellow and green suckers, a few peanut butter kisses and rock hard bubble gum. You vowed to hide your stash better next year.  
These days, kids get candy as a matter of course. Sweets are even included in the food pyramid. The candy free-for-all Halloween represented to me in my heyday doesn’t hold the same appeal for today’s kids. Halloween has become a family affair about themed costumes and adult parties. Children don’t experience the candy-driven anticipation and execution of that night of trick-or-treating. They don’t know to savor the pirate’s greed of possession and protection of one’s sugary booty. Another right of passage lost to this generation. Sigh.