Oh, woe is me. I have spent too much time looking for the origin of that goofy thing we said as kids. You'll remember it. Why? You still say it, or at least one of the versions... very quietly. "Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat. If you won't, I don't care. You can smell my underwear." Did we say that? Of course, but we thought our parents didn't know it. It was our little secret. HA!
I wasn't a brilliant child but I knew that asking people to smell my feet would probably not achieve the results I desired. Candy. That one delicious day a year when you got all you could handle. Of course some neighborhoods were better than others but we never seemed to mind. Our mom was not the type to drive us around rich people's houses. In fact, I didn't even know that sort of thing happened until I was grown up with my own little trick or treaters.
To me, that was a violation of rules. Those who got the most candy in our neighborhood were polite and thankful with slim pillow cases and big smiles. As kids we had intuitive scales to determine the size of each candy kerplunk. This was critical. Heavy stuff demanded curbside inspection. It's not that we didn't appreciate apples but the weight of candy was much easier to carry. Candy bars were a nickel in those days, a prized and heavy treat.
In the early 60's, most of us were still going door to door for goodies. I also did fundraising for UNICEF back then but they had the good sense not to confuse all of us by not asking for candy and money on the same night. I quit trick or treating the year that a very nice lady asked if I wasn't getting too old to be on her porch in a costume. After some thought I had to agree it was time to hang up my pillow case and leave door bell ringing to the little guys. I think I was 13 that year. If I had known that my first child would be born just five years later, I would have kept trick or treating another couple of years.
As a parent I was a real Halloween nut case. I hand crafted Shannon's first little lion costume and made sure she said thank you to everyone. She was toddling that first year and kept saying thank you to folks at the grocery store and Bi-Mart for several months. Maybe I went a little heavy on that part of the training. If you say, "Thank you," people smile. Maybe it was a good thing after all. Why? Her parents got all the candy because she was really a cute baby Lion. This scheme worked remarkably well until baby number two, the redhead. She didn't want to be a lion and took her time embracing the whole Halloween deal. Not much chocolate came from this but we loved her spirit.
We were found guilty when those innocent children caught us rifling through their treat bags and separating chocolate from things we didn't like. The gig was up. We made up some really dumb excuses like, "Honey, we're just putting this in a safe place where it won't melt." Of course, there is the ever-popular, "Mommy and Daddy are saving this for you so it will last a long time!" Also, "The dentist said we should be sure to sort this candy."
Liars. Blatant, shameless, parental spinners of fables. It gets worse. After they moved here from Alaska, our daughters used to bring the boys to Great Grandma's house in Corvallis. We'd all gather there and enjoy a great evening of fun with Nathan, Jacob and Dawson after they trick or treated in Great Grandma's neighborhood, which was far more delicious than any of ours. Great Grandma lived in a real chocolaty neighborhood.
Then, like a murder of crows, the mothers, grandmother and great-grandmother would descend on the accumulated goodies and have a chocolate giggle fest. Ah yes... those were the good old days. The kids weren't old enough to appreciate the true value of chocolate so we did it for them. In later years they caught on. That's when the gummy worm turned. Like trained seals, we were forced to beg for tiny chocolate bits from their bulging bags because we were old and hadn't bought enough chocolate. Did they care? Not really. They just got bigger and needed more chocolate to survive. Nathan, Jake and Dawson... ALERT! GGranny, Nanny, Grandma Ocean and Gammy still need chocolate.
"Trick or treat, smell my feet or give me something good to eat."
For once and all, I'd like this settled. Understanding this rhyme is on my bucket list. Kind of sad, isn't it? Nope. Not for me. I want to know who started this and why and when. In the meantime, just give me chocolate.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.