Improve Your BOO I.Q.

Creepy cupcakes will make your teeth a delightful orange. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Creepy cupcakes will make your teeth a delightful orange. (All photos by Marylin Warner)



Cafes like Bon Ton's in Colorado Springs get in full swing for Halloween.

Cafes like Bon Ton’s in Colorado Springs get in full swing for Halloween.

The staff at my mom's assisted living facility go all out with decorating pumpkins.

The staff at my mom’s assisted living facility go all out with decorating pumpkins.









The good news is you still have a week to get into the Halloween spirit. The even better news is this post will help you become prepared in case you’re ever a contestant on television JEOPARDY or playing Trivial Pursuit with friends!

Beyond the usual costume choices and vandalism facts of Halloween, here are five lesser-known Halloween details: First, if you’re looking for love, be prepared on October 31st. According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, games like bobbing for apples and sharing special sweets and chocolate candies can predict future romances and compatibility.

Second: Halloween is the 6th most popular American card-giving holiday, with an estimated 20 million cards sent each year. Christmas is the 1st with 1.5 billion cards. Take a guess what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th are. Here’s a hint: successful bobbing for applies and sharing special sweets could led to most of them.

Third: In 1950 in Philadelphia, trick’o’treaters traded a sweet tooth for a sweet action.  Instead of going from door-to-door for candy, they collected spare change to make a change in the lives of mothers and children in developing countries. UNICEF was created in the United Nations, and after Philadelphia it soon spread across the country via schools, youth groups and churches.

Fourth: According to statistics from the Dept. of Agriculture, the number of pumpkins bought for baking cookies, pies and puddings for Thanksgiving comes in behind the number of pumpkins bought to carve for Halloween. Spooky wins over tasty.

And fifth: Got leftovers after Halloween night? Dark and milk chocolate can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free place, and unopened packages of candy corn can last at least nine months. Careful planning can keep you Halloween happy for quite awhile.

My parents used to Ooo and Aaah over the neighbor children who showed up in costume on Halloween night. Mom always bought bags of Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, and Almond Mounds. During their last Halloween at home they gave out candy to early Trick’o’Treaters, the very young pirates, princesses and little ghosts. Then they ran out of candy, so they turned off the porch light and went to bed. Many months later when I cleaned out their house, there were many bags of candy bars stored in the cabinet with the laundry supplies. They looked like they were still edible, so the 5th detail must be right.

You don't have to wear a costume or paint your face at Halloween ~ dress up your feet!

You don’t have to wear a costume or paint your face at Halloween ~ dress up your feet!

These will always be my favorite Halloween costumes!

These will always be my favorite Halloween costumes!



Filed under art projects, autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for great-grandchildren, neighbors, October glory

52 responses to “Improve Your BOO I.Q.

  1. juliabarrett

    What great Halloween costumes! I love answering the door on Halloween. Unfortunately I never know how much candy to buy – yes, I buy candy. I always hated it when someone gave me a toothbrush! Some years we have loads of kids, some years few. Last year it rained so there were few kids. This year I suspect we’ll have a lot.
    Our previous GSD, Louie, loved to dress in costume and greet the kids at the door. Jake, not so much…

  2. This will be our first Halloween without Maggie, and she always sat at the front door. I could tell when kids were coming up the walk because she wagged her tail and was so happy to greet them.
    My first year living in Colorado, we had 18″ of snow, and no one trick’o’treated because roads were closed and tree limbs came down. Since then, with less snow–or sometimes with warm weather–we have between 50-70, so we buy lots of candy. Like you, Julia, I leave it to others to give toothbrushes! 😉

  3. I’m not a big fan of Halloween . Our town goes crazy, everybody goes downtown to look at the costumes. The stores give out treats.

    • I’m not a fan of going someplace for Halloween, Gerlinde, but I love the little Trick’o’treaters who come to the front door early in the evening. Some are young they’re just learning to say “Twick or Tweet” and “Thank you” with their parents’ help, and they’re just so cute. By the end of the evening when older teens in groups arrive, not even in costumes and try to grab for extra candy, we turn off the porch light, lock the door and call it a night.

      • Gerlinde

        I love the little trick’o ‘ treaters but we live on a busy street and it is not safe for them. Most of the parents take their children to stores.

  4. Goodness, 50-70 little guests to trick or treat! Have fun and Happy Halloween. 🙂

    • About half a mile from where we live, Gallivanta, there is a church with an active youth group that organizes young children and takes them safely around to go Trick’o’treating. We like to support their efforts, and the costumes are mostly homemade and are very creative.

  5. Interesting Halloween facts Marylin. The event never really caught on in our house – it had only really just got going in the UK as an export from America when son was small and I didn’t like the idea of him knocking on doors asking for sweets! But I can see the attraction to some extent…
    It was poignant to hear about all that candy you found stashed in your parents’ house.

    • There are many indicators that it’s time for parents with early Alzheimer’s and dementia to move to assisted living apartments where they can be safely helped and watched over. For us, Jenny, finding all the bags of candy with the laundry supplies, and then hearing from neighbors that they were driving on the wrong side of the street, etc., helped us make the decision. I like to think of the Halloween candy instead of other, more concerning and potentially dangerous things that followed. On a general note about Halloween, there are some years and especially in certain parts of the country, that it’s no longer a fun celebration as much as an excuse to be destructive.

  6. Don

    Spooky wins over tasty

  7. Don

    Spooky wins over tasty. Now that’s quite a statistic, Marylin.

    • Some of the pumpkin carvings with candles inside really are works of art, Don, while others really seem evil. But funny or scary, I’m always glad to hear that the pumpkin “innards” didn’t go to waste, but were used to make pumpkin desserts or the seed salted and back for toppings.

  8. Don

    Sorry about the first comment – not sure what happened.

  9. You have certainly put us in the Halloween spirit with this boo-tiful post, Marylin. Americans go whole hog for this holiday. According to Fortune magazine $ 7.4 billion is spent on costumes, candy, and decorations: Mind-boggling, don’t you think?

    I like your homespun take on this holiday, especially the cuties on the photos at the end. Yes, you have improved my boo IQ!

    • I don’t remember any Halloween when I was growing up that we bought anything more than an occasional mask, Marian. We always rigged up our own costumes, adding face paint, etc. But I do have friends who even now do for their grandchildren what they also did for their children, ordering fancy, detailed costumes reflecting current popular movies and characters. They wear them one evening, pose for a lot of pictures, and then that’s it.

  10. Jim

    Yep, sweetie, this will be the first Halloween without our greeter Maggie. It will be difficult. Many of the little kids will expect to see her again this year as always. Some have grown up seeing her at the door waiting for them every Halloween. They always asked to pet her because her tail would be wagging and she always seemed to have a smile on her muzzle. Marylin, could you tell about the neighborhood boy whose mother you spoke to recently about this upcoming Halloween and Maggie?

    We all miss our Maggie so much. We have to wonder how many lives she has enriched in so many little ways.

    • Oh, honey, I know. This Halloween will be a relief to be over. The timid little neighbor boy who had his mom bring him to our house first because hugging Maggie gave him a smile and confidence–and then who always asked if he could take Maggie with him–he’s the one I dread seeing at our door this first Halloween that Maggie is gone.

  11. What a couple of real sweeties in the last picture, no wonder you like it so much.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • As you know, David, grandchildren steal our hearts, and that last picture is of our grandchildren eight years ago. They roll their eyes that I treasure this picture and share it every Halloween, but I’ll probably also be showing it at their college graduations or engagement parties in the future. They’re just so cuddly and cute!
      Massive Hugs to you, too!

  12. Claudia

    This was full of new information! I loved Halloween as a child, and loved it as a teacher. But a few years ago, this town suffered tremendous pumpkin smashing making messes and Our yearly family scarecrow dressed in heirloom clothing was stolen lock, stock and barrel.Then we began to have way big kids show up on our porch wanting candy, sneered at little candy bars. That started a downward slope for my feelings about this holiday. However, I love, love celebrating autumn with pumpkins and seasonal things and then make Thanksgiving the bookend for a lovely season. I already have out a turkey or two among the pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and scarecrows. I enjoy the entire season, just avoid the scary faces and fangs part!

    • I totally know what you’re saying, Claudia. What was a fun and funny parade of young children (guided by their parents) going from house to house dressed in adorable costumes, now has become a chance for bored teens (and older) to bully and do damage and ruin the evening. Sigh. Another dark change in our society.

  13. Claudia

    I forgot to say I heard an ad on the TV last night! It was about clearance at the Shepherd Auto Plaza in Ft. Scott! I listened with new ears.

  14. They don´t do Halloween here in Spain but they love to dress up in costumes on many other occasions. I noticed in Italy there were stores and bakeries decorated in Halloween themes.

    • Spain has the costumes and foods and celebrations and true festivities instead of our one-night door-to-door neighborhood trick or treating by young children (which, unfortunately, is often over-run by older, bored teens). There are many times I’d much rather be in Spain, Darlene!

  15. Marylin, I love how you share holiday facts and trivia. I didn’t know that information about UNICEF. Or the fact about bobbing for apples predicting future romances (although that makes sense!). I’m guessing one of those card giving holidays is St. Valentine’s Day. 😉
    How sweet that your mom’s facility decorates those pumpkins. I’m definitely feeling in the Halloween spirit!
    xo Joanne

    • Yes, Joanne, one is Valentine’s Day. Another is “collective birthdays” followed by Engagement and Wedding, then Anniversary. Then of course, a big one, Mother’s Day. 😉
      I just love the way the staff at my mom’s facility decorates for occasions, but these pumpkins steal the show. Like you, I’m definitely feeling the Halloween spirit!

  16. Marylin … I’d rather eat things made from pumpkin than carve one. I love your Halloween trivia. When our kids were growing up, my husband escorted them while they were trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, We still enjoy the trick-or-treaters. But we see far fewer of them than we did when we lived in Central New York. I always buy candy I like. That way, any leftovers … BONUS!

    Happy Halloween! 😉

    • Okay, Judy, I confess. I buy candy I like, too. In fact, I set aside a few and watch them to know when it’s late enough to turn off the light and stop giving out candy. 😉
      On Wednesday Colorado Springs will get snow. If more comes on Friday and Saturday, we’ll have LOTS of leftover candy bars, but it will have to be a really be snow to keep in the trick’o’treaters.

  17. Interesting facts, Marylin. Growing up in Virginia, I remember always going Trick or treating for UNICEF. I was never a big fan of Halloween. I always struggled with the costume. I love your favorite costumes…so cute!

    • I used to collect for UNICEF, too, Jill. And one of the older neighbors gave money for the UNICEF box AND full-size Snickers to us for being such good kids to collect for UNICEF. Talk about a win-win!
      I love the costumes, but I especially love the cuddly kids wearing them. It’s Grace and Gannon eight years ago. It’s one of my favorite pictures, and they just roll their eyes at me. 😉

  18. Happy Almost Halloween, Marylin! One of my traditions is to work on our church pumpkin patch with my friend Julie. The proceeds benefit our youth group. I laughed about what you wrote about the chocolate. I am positive I would eat it all before I could test your theory 🙂

    • I hope you and Julie dress up and have a fun time working at the pumpkin patch, Jane! You’re the first person to respond the same way I did when I read the statistic about how long chocolate could be saved: Really? How do you know? Who could walk past all that chocolate all those months?

  19. Love the little trick or treaters. I wish I could bake them cookies rather than buy them candy . . .

    • Aren’t they adorable? Trust me, they get plenty of baked cookies. They’re my grandchildren 8 years ago. They can’t understand why I get out this picture every Halloween and Ooo and Aaa over it. They don’t understand how cute and cuddly they were then (and still are, but at 4 and 3, they were sooo cute). 🙂

  20. I enjoyed your tid-bits of Halloween trivia, Marylin. It is indeed an exciting time for children. I enjoy seeing all of costumes and love the creative homemade costumes the best. Have a happy Halloween!

    • Do families ever come to you for portraits in their Halloween costumes, Robyn? We have friends who have their Christmas card family picture taken every Thanksgiving. They draw straws to decide who will dress as Pilgrims and who will dress as Indians; the grandmother is the only one who is always in a little white ruffled cap as she sits at the table. She wears red lipstick and her usual glasses with rhinestones on the frames. It’s an interesting “theme” card.
      Happy Halloween to you, too, Robyn.

  21. I never realized that people gave cards for Halloween. So I guessed that Mother’s and birthdays would come in high but missed on the Valentine’s day and anniversary, weddings and engagement. I had thought of get well, sympathy, congratulations and farewell cards.

    • I had guessed get well and sympathy, but according to the statistics I found, they come after Halloween. And actually, Elizabeth, I thought the overall numbers of mailed cards would be down, what with all the emails and online cards. But it is special to receive “real” cards. 🙂

  22. jakesprinter

    Nice boots with your beautiful words Marilyn

  23. I’m with Jake, I like the boots too. I didn’t know that games like bobbing for apples and sharing special sweets and chocolate candies can predict future romances and compatibility. Glad to see Christmas cards are still number 1. I have more coming out in the next couple of weeks. If my order arrives on time. LOL 🙂

  24. Fun stuff, Marylin! We live in a rural area and haven’t had trick-or-treaters for decades. Last year I got caught at the office (which abuts a/an historical neighborhood) on Halloween and was shocked at the level of activity. Carloads of Ninja Turtles, Disney characters, pirates and princesses arrived to enjoy gathering treats from mummies and vampires in yards that had been converted into dry-ice-fogged cemeteries. I ended up sitting in my car for more than a half an hour watching the show!

    • Sounds like last year made a believer out of you, Shel! Through the years, depending on Halloween’s weather, we’ve had as many as 75 trick’o’treaters, and the steady stream of fancy costumes, home-made creations, multiples in unison (3-4 children in one costume together) and adorable tiny-tot costumes makes for a happy evening. One little guy, only 3years old, was dressed in the cutest homemade pirate outfit I ever saw. When I oohed and aahed over him, he said, “No kisses, please.”
      He wasn’t talking about Hershey’s chocolate kisses, but real kisses. His parents were waiting on the sidewalk and laughingly explained that several women had thought he was so adorable they couldn’t resist kissing him.

  25. I used to love watching ‘Jeopardy’ and we still play ‘Trivial Pursuit’ sometimes. We have our old American version, so the sports questions get us Brits every time! I had no idea about Halloween cards, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any here and I’ve never sent any. Love your pics, your grandchildren look adorable. And that’s good to know about chocolate lasting so long…but I would eat them before they got to that stage, just no will power! Love the UNICEF idea too. Love this fun and fact-filled post, Happy Halloween Marylin, I hope it’s filled with lots of spooky fun for you and your family. We have our candy at the ready 😀

  26. And Happy Halloween to you, too, Sherri. My sports intelligence is iffy when we play Trivial Pursuit here, so I should come to play against the Brits. 😉 I certainly can’t hold my own here against my grandkids, my husband and my son-in-law.
    We have candy for 80 ready for Halloween because it’s supposed to be the warmest evening of the week, and no snow, so we might have MANY kids at the door!

  27. calvin

    I love your Mom. She gave out peanut butter cups. Like your parent, now that am older and mature (stop laughing) am content to hand out treats, so does Elvira. The costumes don’t faze her one eyeota. Though it can be a challenge from year to year in not knowing the numbers to expect. I live in a village and area predominately made up with residences whom, due to religious views do not celebrate Halloween, nor Christmas in the modern sense. But we still manage just the right amount, unless it is raining or snowing or both. Tomorrow’s weather forecast indicts all systems – GO!

  28. Maturity is not the issue here, Calvin. 😉 Not when we’re talking Halloween.
    The last two days have been cold, with rain off and on, and snow on Pikes Peak, so we had a chance of snow here on Halloween. But now they predict the weekend will be warm and inviting–which means we’ll probably have 70 “visitors”–so we’re stocking up. All systems GO here, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s