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Jessie Raymond: Halloween hangover an annual rite

Halloween has come and gone.
Once again, I ate too much candy.
You might wonder how this happens, when we have no trick-or-treaters left at home, and our Halloween visitors are so rare we could gather all the candy we needed just by digging between the couch cushions.
Well, I buy candy. “Just in case.”
It’s become my thing. I have designated Oct. 31 as my one unlimited-candy day of the year, dentist and diet be damned. Look, some otherwise-reasonable people let themselves go crazy with tequila on New Year’s Eve. Halloween is like that for me, except instead of unbridled inebriation, I shoot for a shamefully high blood-chocolate ratio.
It’s a tradition.
Knowing that we’re not going to be giving out much, if any, of our candy, I could choose quality over quantity. I could purchase a half dozen fine Belgian chocolates, and savor them over several days. Instead, I opt for several large, cheap, brightly colored bags of brand-name candy that I consume, with help from the family, in a hyena-like frenzy. Halloween is not a time for moderation.
All week I look forward to nightfall on the 31st, when I can load candy into my face, piece after piece, letting the wrappers fall where they may. For a half hour or so, I feel gloriously alive.
And then my stomach hurts for the next 12 hours and I can’t look at candy, or even the words “fun size,” again for weeks.
Who says this girl doesn’t know how to party?
As for selection, I gravitate toward KitKats and Reese’s mini peanut butter cups, but I like to throw in some Rolos to round things out nutritionally (on Halloween, caramel is a food group).
I don’t have to overdo it. But eating mass-produced treats reminds me of how much I loved Halloween when I was young, dressing in costume and demanding free candy from the neighbors. The way I see it, I’m not pigging out as much as I am reliving the good old days.
Trick-or-treating was always hit-or-miss, of course. You could never guarantee you wouldn’t get stuck with a box of Goobers or a Mounds bar. But it was the unpredictability of it all that made it the night so heady.
For the most part, winners far outweighed losers. Odds were you’d find at least one house — usually one outside the high-traffic trick-or-treat route — handing out full-size candy bars. The goal was to avoid the wet-blanket places giving out healthy treats like apples.
Back then, apples got a bad rap. Urban legend had it that sicko kid-haters routinely stuck razor blades in them. My mother never worried about such nonsense, knowing there was zero chance of me eating an apple, sabotaged or not, what with the pillowcase of actual candy I clutched in my sticky little fist.
Though documented cases of anyone tampering with Halloween candy are rare, if not nonexistent, the stories persist. They’ve changed with the times, however.
On Facebook last month, panicked citizens shared the latest scare: a photo of what look like colorful SweeTart-style candies — actually dangerous opioids — that hand-rubbing, snickering evildoers would be sneaking into kids’ bags by the handful this year.
Right.
First of all, parents today would never allow their children to touch a single piece of unwrapped candy, unless perhaps it had first been doused in hand sanitizer.
And second, while it’s true that prescription pill abuse is a national crisis, you have to question how severe the problem is if addicts are breaking into people’s homes and stealing their painkillers, only to give them out, literally like candy, on Halloween. (I have a friend who lives in Buttolph Acres in Middlebury. Can you imagine how many medicine cabinets he’d have to hit to provide oxycodone to all the trick-or-treaters he gets? It’s just not practical.)
Still, safety is important. And staying home with my own directly purchased candy is the safest way I know of to enjoy Halloween. While we no longer have young children, and we haven’t had a single trick-or-treater in two years, Halloween still happens at our house.
To that end, Saturday night I gorged on KitKats and Rolos, and went to bed with a stomach ache that lasted well into the next day.
The tradition lives on.

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