Monday, October 26, 2015

How Sweet It Is!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I get it now, I do. They invented Halloween not as an opportunity for kids to dress up, but as an opportunity for adults to buy candy, all they want, with the built-in excuse that it's "for the kids"

Halloween is also an excuse for women of a certain ilk to dress up in skimpy outfits and pretend it's a costume. One year, one of my pals wore black tights and a black leotard--and that is all! And then she the swirled herself in pale blue gauze, and called herself a hurricane. I beg you. In fact, I bet the sales of black tights and black leotards skyrockets at Halloween. but I digress.

Seriously, Reds, I buy Twizzlers and Snickers and Almond Joy, my very favorites, and then I hope nobody comes to the door. :-)  Well, no, that's not true, I love trick or treaters, actually ,and get a huge kick out of them.  But I am also happy to be able to buy Twizzlers and Snickers.

This year I also bought pencils. Yes, pencils. They are cool, funny, Halloween pencils, and I wondered if that was a better (healthier and more useful) treat than candy. I mean--I LOVE pencils! They are not as sweet and swirly as Twizzlers, but they last longer and do not melt. And although you can write with a Twizzler, you cannot read it. And you can never erase Twizzler marks.

But I fear the goblins and hurricanes will not appreciate pencils.

So two things: Are you getting candy?  What kind?

And: Do you think the kids will go for pencils? Or any candy alternative?

No, three things. Do you eat candy corns color by color? Or all at once?

LUCY BURDETTE: Speaking of costumes, Hank, as you well know, the Crime Bake conference banquet is famous for costumes. I wanted to go this year with 2 pals as James Bond and two of the Bond girls. (Speaking of leotards and all...) But whispering now, instead we're going as Poirot and 2 Miss Marples. Sigh. It turns out that I used to dress as Miss Marple in my therapy practice days, so the outfit was a snap.

No candy, we don't live in a neighborhood so no one comes. Pencils for the gluten-free or sugar averse? And the few candy corns I eat, all at once.

RHYS BOWEN: This is so funny, Hank, because John and I were in Safeway yesterday and he actually said, "We need to stock up on Kit Kats for Halloween. Look, two big bags for ten dollars." And I replied, "We only get about five kids at the most."  And he grinned and said, "So?"  He loves kit kats. I deplore this devious way of stocking up with Kit Kats. If I do it it will be with healthy Snickers and Milky Ways!
I've been to a couple of fun Halloween parties--I once went as a fallen angel when John was the devil. In those days he had black hair and a little black beard and he stuck on fake horns and looked very scary. But I fear our dressing up days are over.  I'm more concerned about sexually provocative costumes for little girls!

HALLIE EPHRON: Always candy! My neighborhood is full of kids. They play out in the street, such a lovely quaint idea, and Halloween is about the biggest holiday of the year. I mean the street is seriously lit up, more even than Christmas. I used to buy the candy I don't like because otherwise it would all be gone by Halloween. Turned out it was still gone. Now I buy what I like (Hershey's chocolate, Swedish fish) but not until just before Halloween so it can't get Hoovered if up before the kiddies arrive.

My granddaughter will visit us for Halloween and I can't wait to re-experience a 2 1/2-year-old's Halloween. Remembering when my daughter was that age and helped answer the door and told us "Man with four faces" had come. Four was her generic number for anything more than 1. Translation: man wearing a mask.

Pencils? Not so much. But I haven't got a better idea.

I feel outed on the Candy corn. I like the brown/orange/white ones and I bite off one color at a time.

HANK: Well, I do, too,  of COURSE, because that’s the only way to eat  those things. Yucky as they are...

DEBORAH CROMBIE: They truck in trick-or-treaters to a street a few block from us. I'm serious! It's a madhouse. But we don't get many. If it's nice I'll sit on the front porch for an hour or so just in case any "littles" come by. (Once we start getting teenagers in hoodies, that's it.) So of course I have to buy candy! Mini Hershey's from the supermarket yesterday. Now to keep Rick from eating them all between now and Halloween, that's the trick. (I might eat a couple, I admit. I love the crackly ones.)

Hank, good luck with the pencils... I would like them.  As for candy corn, ugh. Cannot stand. Even when I was a kid. It makes my teeth hurt.

Oh, and actually I think the hurricane Halloween costume was pretty clever! Did she have a blue drink to match?

HANK: Yes, fine, it was cute. Sigh.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Debs, that makes me think of one of my life lessons: just say no to blue drinks. I don't know what that blue liquor is, but it's a killer.

We live in the country, and have hardly any trick-or-treaters, but Ross buys the giant bags of Hersey's Miniatures just the same. It used to be my job to get the Hallowe'en candy, but he and the kids complained that I was the only person left alive who still likes those caramels-wrapped-around-the-white-center candies. Our location was wonderful for the children when they were little; we could hit every house within walking range in a half hour and they knew all the grown-ups answering the doors, so it wasn't scary. When they got older and more, shall we say, result oriented, we'd drive into Portland and hook up with friends. Half the fun of taking the kids trick-or-treating is wandering a few steps behind with another couple moms, drinking Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale and critiquing everyone's decorations.

Hank, I think your pencils will go over fine. Every year, Youngest got Hallowe'en pencils, stickers and plastic tchotkes like spider rings and eyeballs. She loved them. And I eat candy corn by the colors, of course. Anything faster is just tooooo sweet - those things are solid corn syrup, right?

So two questions, Reds—what candy do you get? And is it for the trick or treaters? Or for…you?

And the mystery of the universe: do the sections of the candy corn taste different?


And HANK ON TOUR news: are you in Indianapolis (Carmel Clay Library), Madison WI (Mystery to Me Bookstore)  or Oakmont PA (Mystery Lover’s Bookstore? That’s my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday schedule—before I come home to see Susan! Please come visit and talk about WHAT YOU SEE!   Click here for the details!  

And Susan's MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE is out tomorrow! YAY!


  1. I adore pencils, so I'm in the "pencils are great" camp.
    Candy corn? Definitely not.
    We are unlikely to see any Trick-or-Treaters, but we generally have something around "just in case" . . . at least, that's what we say when we're in the grocery story looking at all the Halloween stuff.
    Sometimes we get Hershey's miniatures [but I lay claim to all the Special Dark ones]; otherwise, Snickers and Dove Dark Chocolate are the candies that get the nod of approval. One year we found chocolate goldfish . . . but, as usual, no children came to our door. Fortunately, all the grandbabies loved them!

  2. Pencils are perfect and I would have loved them when I was a kid - especially if they have those big stick on erasers. You know the kind.

    We too live in the country and so, no trick or treaters. Back in the day though, we used to stock up on Kit Kats and small chocolate bars. I used to use it as my annual excuse to buy Reese Peanut Butter Cups. My all-time favorite. Especially when frozen. Hum, maybe this year we WILL get some trick or treaters. I'd better stock up on the Reeses, just in case.

  3. Candy corn by the colors, of course. I always stock mini-Baby Ruths, Snickers, and Mr. Goodbars. But this year I'm going to be at Magna Cum Murder on Halloween, and since my guy doesn't DO Halloween (yes, he's a little bit of a Scrooge), I'm not buying any candy. My pants are tight enough as it is!

  4. My local big box store was stripped of most kinds of Halloween candy before I got there Saturday morning (twizzlers, snickers), so I grabbed bat and pumpkin-shaped pretzel packs.

  5. Joan, I love the special dark ones, too. And yop, what is is about snickers? I freeze them .too, gut then worry about my teeth. Just like my mother warned me.

    And Joan, could you email me h ryan at whdh dot com with your address? I know I have it somewhere.. xxoxo

  6. Kait, I LVOE those big stick on erasers. The eraser part always uses up before the pencil, of course, and it's so annoying to have that yucky smear of black on the paper when you convince yourself that the eraser will work on more time.. :-)

    I love pencils, and use them all the time. Does anyone else? S I would be thrilled if some person trick or treat me with pencils. I will let you all know how the experiment goes.

  7. Edith, have fun at Magna--it's a lovely conference. And some wonderful people there this year. The GOH is the marvelous Kent Krueger, right? He's such an inspiration.

    Maybe you could hand out candy there?? Never know when you might need to get some twizzlers.

  8. Margaret, bat and pumpkin shaped pretzel packs? The pretzels are shaped like bats? Or just the packaging? Forgive me, I am trying to picture this..

    I forgot about PAyDay. I love PAyday, too. Do they still sell that? WHat is that stuff in them idle, anyway?

  9. We are on the darker end of the street (owing to the fact that we're across from a golf course, so fewer lights). Every year, only a few trick-or-treaters. Which is fine by me.

    Don't care for candy corn (the kids do). Don't really care for Halloween. Not even when I was a kid, really. This year, I plan to hide upstairs and read What You See - but I'll probably have to buy at least some Halloween candy.


    little orange lunchbox bags containing pretzels baked in the shape of bats and for me.

  11. We usually get three kinds, and the only rule is that one of them be Reese Cups.

    I always look for something in dark chocolate, in case there is some left over (wink) but for some reason the marketing mavens who decide what goes into the combo bags assume children (wink) do not have discerning candy palates and are content with milk chocolate. Sigh.

    Milk chocolate with peanut butter is fine, but beyond that . . .

    I don't eat candy corn. Ever. Even when I was a kid I didn't. Or those puffy orange peanuts, either. Eeeww.

  12. That sounds like a perfect Halloween, Mary! (See you soon!)

    Yeah, those are great, Margaret! Kids will love them. ANd I bet some adults, too. Can't go wrong with those..oxooo

  13. No trick-or-treaters in the country where I live, except my next-door neighbor's little grand daughter, so must get in a supply of candy--wouldn't want her to think we were stingy! Any and all of the above are good--kitkats, snickers, baby ruth, hershey's dark chocolate minis, twizzlers, it's all good. Candy corn by the colors, unless I'm engrossed in a book, then it's the whole thing.

    Cutest costumes I've seen in a while--one of my nephews, his wife, toddler, and baby went as crayola crayons, complete with little pointy felt hats--orange, green, pink, and blue!

  14. Oh yes, you have to buy candy that you like yourself for Halloween. Especially, since we normally have so few trick-or-treaters that we know there will be some left over. For us that means, Reese's peanut butter cups, peanut M&M's and Hershey's minis (tell me, why are there always less Special Dark than any of the others in that bag?)

    I think pencils are a great idea Hank. I would have loved that as a kid. Of course, I was not the typically kid, so I could be completely wrong on that.

    This year, we'll be in NYC for Halloween - note above that I STILL bought the candy, even knowing this, LOL - and I am sure that is going to be an experience.

  15. Candy corn tastes like wax to me. And yesterday I looked for a small bag for my husband, who does like it, but all I could find? Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn. Seriously? This has gotten out of hand.

    We have not had a trick or treater here in 25 years, but since 2007 I've had a Halloween party every other year, and go completely over the top, with decorations, food, costumes, and two specialty drinks a year. This year: Orange Jello shots, and mulled cider with bourbon, to go with vats of chili with fixins'. Steve and I always have a couples costume theme, going back to our first costume party together, 37 years ago. We will be Batman and Spider Woman this year.

    Rhys, you are definitely not too old to dress up! My mother is 85, and she loves our Halloween party. One year she wore a full-head mask and I didn't know who she was for more than an hour, it was a hoot.

  16. Baby Ruth, Flora! Those were good--I didn't realize they still existed. Off to the drug store. No no--NOT doing it! Remind me next year.

    And you prove my point, dear Kristopher--you're not even gonna be HOME!!! Love that. (I will be on a place to CA, but Jonathan will hold the fort.) And gee, who among the Reds was a typical kid????

  17. KAren, seriously. NO MORE pumpkin spice! I think the pumpkin people hired the Kale PR guy.

  18. Call me strange, but I love candy corn --- used to buy the pumpkins instead of the corn shapes and eat them whole. My last house was on a street where the kids were bused in by parents --- hundreds of them. And I had to budget for Halloween candy every year: 25 LARGE multi-mixed bags and not a piece was left. I would turn the lights off earlier and earlier each year (the little ones showed up earlier and earlier each year) and when the teenagers in hoodies showed up, I always asked them for a trick (a nice one!) before they could get a treat.

    Didn't have to buy candy this year; very quiet neighborhood. So I'll go to the downtown area and watch the kids parade through the local monastery's Queen's Court (not sure exactly what it is?!) and check out the elaborately carved pumpkins the monks have made. And maybe pick up a piece of candy or two from the downtown merchants . . .

    Hank: I think the younger kids would love a pencil or two. And when I ate the regular candy corn, it was color by color.


  19. I buy Milky Ways. We don't get that many kids since I live in a condo complex. The garages are on the bottom, and the units are on the next two levels. It's a lot of stairs, hence the low numbers. The last few years, I haven't wound up being home since some friends have thrown a Halloween party.

    I don't like candy corn. I tried eating it color by color once, and it all tasted the same to me, very bland.

  20. Butterfingers.
    Heath Bars.
    Reece's cups.
    Milky Ways.
    I'm teasing. We never have trick or treaters where we live, so we don't stock up on candy. But, you can still find a few mini chocolate bars in a big bowl in our living room. But not Butterfingers because I would gobble every one of them up within the firs hour of having them in the house.

  21. I have been all over the socio-emotional spectrum when it comes to Halloween --- to the extent that I am the little old lady who makes sure the lights are all out in the front of the house! Loved it as a kid, enjoyed it with my own kids -- get a kick out of seeing the grandkids in their costumes (in photos).

    But this year I am embracing Halloween, in costume -- my grandsons assure me that I don't need a costume to be "Professor Sprout" (Harry Potter) -- but I have some adornments. We are meeting up in Washington, DC at the other grandma's house where she sets up a Harry Potter experience, and has 3,000 trick-or-treaters!!! (Loads of volunteers help her out.)

    One year I spent Halloween in Oaxaca, Mexico -- if you ever have a chance!!! Day of the Dead -- it is amazing, wonderful, spiritual, beautiful.

  22. we bought a Hersheys variety bag: chocolate bars, Reeses peanut butter, and something else. I wouldn't give out candy I didn't like! We get more and more trick or treaters every year. I'll hand out candy for a while this Saturday then will have to get dressed for a party. Wearing an outfit that puts me in the 20s or 30s. Flapper, Downton Abbey, whatever. I'll answer to any of it! I always liked candy corn. I'd get the harvest mix with pumpkins. Not buying it now as it is pure corn syrup with nothing redeeming in it. Darn.

  23. Pumpkin spice has gotten so out of hand that a friend of mine made a mocumentary about it - and I have a starring role as Author!You can see it here:

  24. Tricia--wow! 25 bags! amazing! That must have been kind of fabulous..

    It does, MArk! But Its the making sure you don;t bite outside the lines that's the fun part, right?

  25. Such fun! Love hearing about everyone's Halloweens. And I hope you noticed that Julia is the only one who spelled it correctly:-) I do have a few Halloween decorations so should get those down from the attic, and get some pumpkins for the front porch. We haven't carved jack-o-lanterns since my daughter was small, so looking forward to doing that again one of these days.

    But the forecast here is for heavy rain, so all Halloween plans may come to naught. (That means more candy for us...)

  26. KAye, so great that we know our own limitations, right? We just got a big assorto-bag that includes DOTS. I love those little boxes of DOTS. I think eating them does not count at all.

    Okay, Denise Ann…we want PHOTOS! That sounds terrific…whoa.

  27. PAt D--we want photos of you, too! Where did you get the dress? What accessories are you wearing? YOu could make a candy corn pearl necklace. Maybe. :-)

    Edith, so hilarious.

  28. Debs, how are you all? The weather sounds so miserable! Maybe you can all go as Flo and Eddy. They like rain…

    Take care..and keep warm and dry.

  29. Oh, dear Hank, you are dating yourself with giving "pencils." Recently, I was in the office of my tech support team (and they're clients too) when I asked for a pencil. Incredulity overwhelmed their faces. "What? We don't even use paper in this office." And then....and then....I asked for a ruler. Imagine, a ruler....who ever heard of that still being in use today. (No one in that office is older than 27.)

    But that's ageless. Hersey's bar with almonds! The best.

  30. OK, I'm with Brenda -- the orange peanut things are so gross! Ditto to candy corn. And pumpkin pie anything pales in comparison to the real thing. Kiddo goes trick or treating (of course!) but then, because he's allergic to nuts, Hubby and I get the Snickers, Reese's, etc. Which seems only fair, right?

  31. Susan, that's one of the unsung bennies of having a kid--eating their Halloween candy!

    Easter, too, just for the record.

  32. I love candy corn! That's all for me today. :-) Except that I used to own a black body suit and I still sigh over the body I had back then ... sigh ...

  33. I admit I haven't had time to read all these comments -- love the topic, though! But I saw someone make a Halloween suggestion a few days ago that sounded brilliant. The guy said he went to eBay and bought a gazillion cheap glow-in-the-dark necklaces, and handed those out, saying the kids loved the necklaces, plus they were sort of minor safety feature. I liked that idea! (And no, we didn't get trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, but I usually manage to snag a bag of Butterfingers about this time of the year anyway...they usually last almost until the following year )

  34. Pat K--do you have a protractor?? Ah, well, I am dated by more than the pencil, I fear. Wow, though. Not even paper? Yeesh. That would be impossible for me.

    Susan, what Is Mattie going out as?

    Ah, LIsa, sigh.

  35. Better than pencils, right bagelnosher? LOVE that Idea

    And yeah, nix on the peanut things. Huh. Is "nix" from "nichts"?

  36. Well, I buy snack-sized jumbo bags of candy and sort out all the Reese's peanut butter cups and the dark chocolate Hershey's before any of the kids come to the door. I also make some ghosts out of Tootsie pops and Kleenex to add to the bags of kids in the neighborhood.

  37. Oh, and teachers give pencils at school-- kids still use them in elementary grades LOTS (mostly because they like to use the pencil sharpener)

  38. Puzzled? If Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante is "out tomorrow", how did I buy it yesterday at the local B&N? Could this have anything to do with last week's anniversary of Back To The Future Day???

    YES, each color of the candy corn tastes different. I prefer the traditional, yellow, orange, white.

  39. We've given up on being home at Hallowe'en because we get literally hundreds of "kids" (using the term loosely because of all the older trick-or-treaters we see). So we'll be helping host the dinner at the homeless shelter and then finding something else to do till it's safe to go home.

  40. Candy corn! Because it makes my teeth hurt and gives me sugar shivers. A two-in-one treat. I don't eat much chocolate. Gummy bears and Swedish fish are also okay, but candy corn is it.

  41. OOh, lucky you Elisabeth! Early bird. I bet it's gorgeous. And really? They taste different? I am going to try again. Is it like--lemon, vanilla, chocolate? Or are they flavors not found in nature?

    Yes, love pencil sharpeners..such promise, you know? WIth a new pencil point!

    Jim, you are a very good guy. xoxoo

    Terry so funny. One swedish fish is great. Two are kid of great. Three are…well, mouth-coating. xoxoo But they are irresistible, I agree!

  42. Oh, lord those orange candy "Circus Peanuts." Why is there a whole class of candies you NEVER see except in the days leading up to Hallowe'en? And it's not like they're special delicious seasonal treats like the white chocolate Oreos you can only get around Christmas. They're just terrible. Those root beer barrels. Has anyone ever actually consumed one of those?

  43. I must have had a deprived childhood. I've never even heard of Swedish fish.

  44. Julia, I ate root beer barrels when I was a kid. You don't actually eat them, you suck them, which is awkward given their shape.

    It used to be true that you could only get Peeps at Easter. I saw some Halloween Peeps.

    Okay, I bought some. Gravestones. So?

  45. OMG circus peanuts. Orangish marshmallowy things. I remember eying a bag of those on top of Grandma's fridge when I was 4 or 5. Hey, I had a sweet tooth, not good taste. Pictures of moi as flapper/Downton Abbey person? Okay, but don't know how to upload where. Instructions?

  46. When I was a girl scout we had breakfast cookouts in the fall. After Halloween, I would melt leftover candy corn onto grilled bacon. Mrs. Band was very tolerant, but it took me an extra long time to achieve first class rank. I'm not sure I actually did make it. It was delicious, though, and the other girls ate it up. Now we all have progressed to the more sophisticated maple bacon jam.

  47. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. All the kinds I love.

  48. I've been with the granddaughters all day due to a day off from school for them both and my daughter teaching on another system's schedule. We had a great time watching a scary movie this morning and going to a nice restaurant for lunch and then to Barnes and Noble. They loved picking out three books each, plus me buying them two more together. There are few things better than your granddaughters wanting to spend time in a bookstore with you.

    Now, on to Halloween candy. Rhys, I just knew John was a fine fellow when I met him in Raleigh, and his choice of Kit Kats confirms that opinion. I like the orange covered ones right now that are white chocolate flavored. So, we haven't had a single trick-or-treater since the girl next door, who is now a junior in college, was little. However, that doesn't stop me from buying at least one bag of candy in case there is an unexpected influx of Halloweeners. And, I just happened to pick up the orange covered Kit Kats, of course.

    Candy corn? I don't really care for it much, but when I do happen to have a piece or two, it is only proper to eat it one color at a time. I do think they taste a bit different.

    Julia, you mentioned the white chocolate Oreos at Christmas. They are so great! This Halloween, there is an Oreo called Pumpkin Spice in the blonde oreo family. I thought that the orange filled chocolate Oreos were awesome. Well, I have no control over myself when eating the new Pumpkin Spice ones. You can't find them everywhere, but our local K-Mart has them. I bought some tonight, three packages, telling myself I would then have enough for when my husband comes in on Nov. 5th. I often lie to myself over food items. The check-out boy told me how much he loved them and asked me if I left any on the shelf. Hahaha! I told him there was one package left, and he couldn't wait to finish ringing me up so he could go grab it. Oh, those of you who know our wonderful Bouchercon photographer John Bychowski, he is the one who told me about these Oreos.

  49. Trick or Treaters don't come to our doors here. My first year in the house, I bought candy and ended up walking to the Y to share it with those working the evening shift. I have a few treats in a basket by the door, just in case, and there's always the bowl of coins as backup. I like the pencil idea. One year I gave my students pens, personalized with "Writing is Thinking -- Write On! They liked them. Nov. 1 is one of the year's four half-price chocolate days . . . ;-)

  50. Oh, I am reading all these like crazy! I just got back from my library event, which was fabulous, but you all are hilarious! Root beer barrels, so weird. And jujubes. How is anyone supposed to eat those? Christina's, gross! And I don't even like marshmallows, the regular ones. Not unless they're burnt to a Crisp.

  51. I don't understand peeps either, but they are fun to put in the microwave and blowup. Debs I will send you Swedish fish! Don't eat too many…

  52. Hank... "I think the pumpkin people hired the Kale PR guy," is my new battle cry. Steve just brought home a dozen--a dozen--pumpkin spice bagels--bagels!!!

  53. There are more kids in my neighborhood now. If they decide to climb my stairs, they will get dark chocolate-the only candy worth eating. Pencils are good, too. Happy Halloween. My birthday is the day before.