Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Work Candy Conundrum
It’s ten days after Halloween. The bat decorations and inflatable Frankensteins have been packed away in the attic. The crappy ten dollar made in Malaysia costumes, which had no chance of making it through Halloween have been tossed in the garbage. Rotting jack-o-lanterns have been discarded and replaced by ears of corn and an assortment of gourds (well, except at my house, where the pumpkins remain on our front steps). Even the candy left in our house has been whittled down to Dum Dums, Milk Duds, and those gross peanut butter smelling things that come in the orange and black wrappers that even the raccoons won’t eat.
But at work, it’s a different story. It’s ten days after Halloween but the dishes of leftover candy that normally disappear in a couple of days continue to get refilled, and not with crappy candy like Almond Joy or Milk Duds (sorry Milk Dud fans) but good candy like those fun size Snickers and mini boxes of grape Nerds. And I don’t know about you but I am a total goldfish so if there is candy to be eaten rest assured I am doing my part. The scale in my bathroom at home will back me up. Every day I go to work expecting the candy to be gone but there it is, staring at me, mocking the healthy banana sitting on my desk, whispering “Eat me.”
After I polished off a half dozen mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, wiped the chocolate off my fingers and hid the wrappers in my desk drawer, I wonder why there was such a backlog of candy at the office. I could only come up with two theories.
The first theory is that compensating for the lack of candy in their houses when they were children, today’s adults bought too much candy. Since Halloween was on a Monday there were fewer trick-or-treaters leaving a lot of extra Milky Ways, Starburst and Smarties to unload on unsuspecting coworkers. There is plenty evidence in my house of the “Oh my god, we need more candy in case three hundred buses of trick-or-treaters show up on Halloween,” affliction that seems to strike every year on October 30th, causing my wife and I both to bring home another eight pounds of candy. We end up passing out three pieces of candy to anyone who stops at our house on Halloween, and dropping even larger handfuls of candy for the kids who come after dinner. Whatever is leftover is used by wife as bribes for good behavior out of her students. Sadly, most students are so hopped up on sugar that the candy does nothing to motivate them. But this can’t be the ultimate reason.
Theory two is that today’s kids don’t trick-or-treat nearly as much as my generation did and there are several reasons for it. First off, we don’t let them. There are official trick-or-treat hours and parents don’t let their kids go out alone or to houses of people they don’t know. Second, they have no reason to. Why go out and have to do all that walking for candy when there’s going to be fifteen pounds of leftover candy at home, free for the taking without having to say “trick or treat” or “thank you.”
(Here’s where I put on my old man hat. If you want to get the full effect, read this next part out loud in your best Grandpa Simpson voice).
Back in my day, I was out trick-or-treating with my friends from the minute school ended up the absolute last second I could be out without getting picked up by the polce. I didn’t go home for dinner because I’d just dip into my bag when I was hungry. My parents didn’t walk with me. My costume was carefully selected to maximize the amount of candy I could easily carry; multiple years I was a paper boy, one year I was dressed as a guy who picks up garbage with a stick that had a sharp point which let me carry a garbage bag and a sharp weapon. On a good year, even eating as much candy as I wanted for two weeks there was still a lot left when my mother would finally pry the candy bag out of my cold, sleeping hands.
This year, after we had trick-or-treated down one side of one half of our block, my son wanted to take a break and go back to our house. What he really wanted to do was to pass out candy to other costumed trick-or-treaters. I don’t know whether to be proud that he wants to give or be angry that he isn’t out there getting his own candy. On Halloween night we let both my son and daughter eat a few pieces of their hard earned candy. After both kids went to bed, we put their orange pumpkin candy buckets on top of the refrigerator. They haven’t asked about them since. What was in their buckets is now in a zip lock bag for me to take to work to add to the bottomless buckets of candy (minus any Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, of course). And while my son might be a lost cause when it comes to all out trick-or-treating there is still hope for my daughter. She screamed for a good twenty minutes when we stopped trick-or-treating. In fact, pretty much up every few minutes up until bed time she said, “I want to trick-or-treat more.” Atta girl.