Candyland

October 21, 2021



I want to live in Candyland, and with next Sunday being trick-or-treat… I am about to find out if I do. There must a science behind this, someone out there with the proper charts and graphs and other high tech instruments to prove it- there’s probably even an app for it- but for me, it’s the ‘number of yard goblins per-house ratio’ that is an accurate indicator of the health of a neighborhood. 

I grew up in suburbia and other than the unlucky Bowers kids from next door, that were forced by their parents to come by our house, no one visited our porch with bags wide open. This was just not the nature of my childhood home. Kids are smart and they know how to maximize their candy intake. Sugar junkies’ Kit-Kat gathering metrics should be adopted by planning boards to determine if a proposed neighborhood should get built. If the space between the homes does not facilitate maximum candy collection, pass. 

You figure, an encumbered 8 year old can walk around 5km an hour, add in a lack of sight due to an ill-fitting Power Rangers mask, some sort of robe or cape that keeps getting stuck under foot and a basket that they spill every 19th step, that speed goes down to about 3km an hour. In complete unscientific fashion and with no regard for details, I unrandomly picked two places that would completely support my point. I looked at a suburban neighborhood in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. I counted 71 houses in a stretch of 1 kilometer. So during an evening’s candy acquisition mission, if everything goes as planned and your parents have you ready exactly at start time and you don’t have any bathroom breaks and you barely take a break to cry, one child in a Squid Game costume could conceivably visit 426 suburban houses- because yes, before you even ask- in this scenario everyone is home, everyone is giving out candy, and everyone is up on the street handing out said candy because I don’t know how to account for driveways and such.

The lucky child who is pan-handling in this densely built traditional neighborhood will pass around 120 homes per 1 kilometer distance traveled. At 3 kilometers per hour, for 2 hours, again, if everything goes perfectly, which it will not, this child will have an opportunity to collect 720 pieces of candy, of course assuming everyone is home, they are all on the sidewalk and everyone sticks to one piece of candy. Warlock #2 will conceivably gather 300 more Twizzlers than Warlock #1. As a fan of Twizzlers, this is a big, big deal. That is 200 feet of Twizzler. A  Leaning Tower of Pisa of Twizzler.

Growing up, our house was just too far from the next house to make it a worthwhile place to plan a candy haul. Not only were the houses too far apart, the roads between them were not safe enough for humans, especially small humans donning masks covering their eyes. It was not a neighborhood built for people, it was a car place and car places are no good for kids demanding Rolos. 

My siblings and I were wise enough to leave our own neighborhood for the most important culinary night of the year. We made our parents drive us to another part of town where the houses were closer together and sidewalks allowed us to not get dead. We then filled our pillowcases with every sugar product imaginable. We needed to maximize our time, and we knew just how to do it.

You can tell so much about a neighborhood by how it handles trick-or-treat. Are the houses decorated? Are the front porch lights on? Do kids feel comfortable walking? Are the houses close enough together to fill a sack in the allotted 2 hours? 

If a neighborhood is good for trick-or-treating, it’s likely going to be good year round. If a kid identifies your street as being a candy goldmine, you can probably safely assume it also boasts a strong sense of community. All the attributes that make it good for Snickers, also make it good for neighbors. Consider the ideal trick-or-treat street. Houses close together, not too far from the street, sidewalks, front porches, good lighting, slow traffic, and residents willing to invest in making kids happy. **chef’s kiss**

Looking outside my window as I write this, my street is filthy with Halloween decorations. I am unapologetically giddy about all the gigantic spiders and skeleton families lining our block. I love that people take time and effort to decorate the outside of their houses for holidays. This is not something that benefits the homeowner at all. It is the least selfish act. Decorating the outside of your house is something you do for the block. You do it for your neighborhood and for the people that pass by. It’s a gesture to the people you share a community with, because you want them to enjoy the aesthetics of their neighborhood. 

Trick-or-treat is my favorite night of the year. There is not another time I can think of where so many of us all see one another outside on the sidewalks. Sidewalks are where community takes place and trick-or-treat is sidewalk nirvana! For a holiday with such eerie origins, it really is the most community oriented of evenings. 

This will be our first trick-or-treat on our new street and I am feeling pretty good about our prospects. Like I mentioned, the houses are all decorated, we have sidewalks, it’s a brick street, so cars drive slow, and I can’t picture any of the neighbors we have met not having their lights on. If I wanted to collect as many Starbursts as possible, I would head to our street. 

I am confident we are in for a big night. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to see hundreds of goblins and ghouls make their way up our sidewalk looking to score some Skor bars. I am near frantic in anticipation. To see all the houses on block come together to entertain the neighborhood kids makes me ecstatic. I just hope we have enough Nerds. 


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