The Playroom: Candy con

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

“This one, Mommy? Is it a choking hazard?”

“No, it’s not a choking hazard, you can have that one.”

Halloween candy, let’s talk about Halloween candy.

When I was young, Halloween was serious business. It had nothing to do with community, costumes, martyrs, saints or the souls of dead people. Halloween was about candy.

My brother and I were goal-oriented trick-or-treaters with an agenda. We gathered as much candy as possible, hauled it up to our respective bedrooms and took inventory. We conducted a few solemn trades, negotiated with insider information because we knew each other’s favorites, and then we would eat up every bit of our candy within two days of walking in the front door with our loot.

My sister, a master at sibling torture, wouldn’t eat her candy, not one lick of a Dum Dum lollipop. She would just hoard it, for weeks on end, taunting us with candy we weren’t allowed to eat.

So when faced with my own family, I didn’t want to repeat my own youthful Halloween memories of torturous sibling candy rivalry. Besides, I’m a grown-up now, and I get to control the candy process.

So I decided that in my family I would establish a collective, like on a pirate ship. We would all share the booty. No hoarding in my house.

I established the following Halloween candy procedure:

  • When my kids get home from trick-or-treating, all the candy gets dumped in one big bowl for the entire family to share
  • The children are allowed two pieces of candy after dinner
  • All other candy can only be eaten at my own personal discretion
  • At the end of the week, I throw away whatever candy is left in the bowl.

Even though this makes me sound kind of like a control freak you might not want to have coffee with, it worked beautifully for my first two children, who couldn’t care less about fun-sized candy bars.

Then came my third child. When people meet Emma they often shake their heads and say to me, “That one is going to be trouble.” That one, the one most like me. And Emma and me, we have a secret. We don’t pay much attention to procedure.

After the others go off to work and school, we eat lollipops for breakfast. We eat MilkyWay bars and Crunch bars before lunch. We try Hot Tamales and see if they are any better than we remember. They’re not.

Tootsie Roll Pops and Baby Ruth bars work for snacks. Before we head off to pick up her brother and sister from school, we shove 100 Grand bars and Almond Joys in our pockets.

We call the Kit Kat wafers cookies, split them in two and share them with each other. If we find a Twix bar on the bottom, we clap our hands and squeal with joy, but we don’t share Twix bars, not even with each other.

At the end of the week we put all the candy in a bag, and we don’t actually throw it away. We hide it.

And once, after the pumpkins were gone and the nights were getting chilly, Emma and me, we got to feeling like some chocolate. So we went to our hiding place and dug out the loot, and we decided to share it with the others.

“Hey, I thought you threw the Halloween candy away after a week!”

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at