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In Sugar We Trust

When I was growing up, holidays offered early indications that communication design was in my future.

Determined to avoid disappointment on Christmas morning, I made what I wanted perfectly clear to both Santa Claus and my parents, constructing lists that were not only categorized and prioritized, but cross-referenced with several catalogs.

My approach to Halloween was no less meticulous. Putting together appropriately macabre costumes certainly appealed to my creativity, but as a child of the ’80s, even more of my attention was devoted to the maximization and subsequent enjoyment of material gain. If I did this night right, I’d be swimming in free candy well into the new year.

The trick-or-treat neighborhood route was carefully planned and updated each year. Maps were made, time/distance ratios were calculated, cost/benefit analyses were performed. Was that out-of-the-way cul de sac really a waste of time if it was a known source of full-size candy bars (as opposed to the ubiquitous, so-called “fun size”)? Conversely, was the most direct path between two lucrative streets really the best one? The houses could all be dark, or infested with raisins and pretzels, or home to that dentist that smugly hands out tooth brushes. There was much to consider.

Once the final doorbell had been rung, I dashed home to evaluate the returns. The candy was sorted by type, and the types were assigned value and sorted into four tiers by desirability:

  1. Not to be traded or shared under any circumstances. Carefully ration these to ensure that the final piece of Halloween candy eaten is a Level Four. Poster Children: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Twix, Kit Kat, Dots
  2. Trade for equal or greater value. Poster Children: Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Butterfinger, Almond Joy
  3. Trade for greater value. Eat these only if this tier constitutes a substantial percentage of the loot. Share with guests. Poster Children: Snickers, Baby Ruth, Candy Corn, Tootsie Roll
  4. Never eat these. Trade up as much as possible and give the rest away before they poison the rest of the candy bowl. Blacklist the houses that distributed them and mark the residents for revenge. Poster Children: Mary Jane, Milk Duds, Sugar Daddy

You could say my methods took all the fun out of Halloween, but it would be rude for me to respond with my mouth full of candy.