Dear Crabby, What’s the Point of Trick-or-Treating?

Dear Crabby,

I don’t know where October has gone, but my calendar tells me that next week is Halloween. So, now I need to go out and buy candy for the neighborhood rugrats. Remind me: what’s the purpose of trick-or-treating?

Samantha Sucre

Dear Samantha Sucre,

What’s the point of trick-or-treating? Pretty sure it’s the fact that kids get a pillowcase full of candy that weighs more than them, and for one night only, their moms and dads don’t seem to care. As a parent, the purpose of trick-or-treating was telling my kids that I needed to ‘test’ their candy to make sure there was nothing bad in it that would harm them. They used to line up with their hoard like I was a king they were presenting gifts to. Man. It sure was a sad day when they finally figured out it was just a ruse to get some of the best pieces of candy. Oh well. All good things must come to an end eventually. But you asked what the point is behind all this candy collecting. First of all, Americans love Halloween. And I mean they LOVE it to the point of spending close to nine billion dollars on it just last year. NINE BILLION! Two and a half billion of that was spent on candy alone. Dentists must love this time of year. Now let’s get down to brass tacks (as my dad would always say). Trick-or-treating has been going on in the U.S. and some other countries for about a hundred years. But its origins possibly trace back to ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices, and some even say British politics (that would certainly explain their bad teeth). No one seems able to pinpoint exactly when they phrase ‘trick-or-treat’ was coined, but some smarty pants think the custom was part of American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. I guess that old blockhead Charlie Brown finally got something right.

Another fun aspect of trick-or-treating (aside from the candy) is being able to dress up. Now back in my day we called it ‘begging.’ I know. Not very ‘politically correct’ of us, but that was the beauty of growing up when I did. We didn’t have to worry about offending anyone because we all kept our emotions bottled up and pushed down inside us where they belong. And it also wasn’t ‘PC’ that we dressed like hobos, but we did. We song a little song like, ‘Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat,” and really worked for every piece of candy we got. That’s what burns my brisket about kids today. Some of them throw on a super hero t-shirt and mask and think that’s a costume. It’s not. And you certainly won’t be getting any of the quality candy Mrs. Crabby passes out. Nope. You’ll get the nasty fun-size bars filled with coconut and almonds. Want to egg my car in retaliation? Go right ahead. I’ll have my La-Z-Boy positioned in front of my large window with my extra-large water gun ready to knock you on your over-privileged keisters! In fact, I think we should be more like our Canadian neighbors in New Brunswick. They’re instituting a rule that no one over the age of 16 can trick-or-treat. But that’s not all. They’re also trying to set an 8 p.m. curfew on Halloween night. Those who get busted for being too old or out too late, could get fined $200! Gotta love Canadians. They’re nice, but they don’t mess around.

Hope I answered your question. And if you have any Reese’s peanut butter cups you’re looking unload, feel free to send them my way.

Dear Crabby


About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Theresa Meegan says

    Growing up in Detroit, when we went out on Halloween at each door we shouted “Help the Poor”!!! Not Trick or Treat. Haven’t heard that in many years (OK – I’ll admit it. I’m 74).

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