The unholy terrors of a peanut-free Halloween

PHOTO: MzScarlett, FlickrCC-BY

Late autumn brings All Hallow’s Eve. The ancient Celts called it Samhain, the awakening of a new year when the worlds of the living and dead briefly overlapped. 

Today, our modern holiday of Halloween has come to represent a cultural celebration of the taboo topics of death and the occult. It is a frightful night of mischief and the macabre. Skeletons decorate our towns, often as part of elaborate dioramas. 

Why look, those skeletons over there are Tik-Tok’ing! And those other skeletons are on the internet doing their own research. Those lame old skeletons are dabbing. Isn’t it funny? Where is their muscle tissue? What unholy force compels these dry bones to perambulate? Best not to ask.

Here I will tell you a tale of abject horror from Halloween past. It is a story of innocent children trick-or-treating with their friends. They canvassed the neighborhood safely and happily. That is, until the end of the night when the children gathered with their parents to check the candy for razor blades. (Because that’s apparently something we all do now). 

It was then that the children of one family were forced by a ghastly evil spirt to utter the phrase, “Hey, we can’t bring the peanut candy home. Can we trade for … the non-peanut candy?

THE NON-PEANUT CANDY! Indeed, these earnest young sprites traded Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers for candy corns and Starbursts, licorice and Smarties. They sent away full sized candy bars in exchange for individually wrapped gumballs. Rich chocolate nougat swirled with peanut butter was sacrificed for gooey fruit cement and chalky sugars.

IMAGINE THE HORRORS! Their poor parents. They waited a whole year to gradually steal this candy over the next several weeks. Instead, they were forced to watch in agony as each Fun Size bar slid into the other kids’ bags for their parents to steal from them.

Believe me, I was there. And the worst part was, these were our children. It happened to us.

Our family is one of many that had to learn how to navigate candy-centric holidays like Halloween amid the reality of a serious peanut allergy. Don’t worry about this getting preachy. Food allergies stink. They’re no fun. And that is, perhaps, enough said about that. 

But food allergies do realign the way we enjoy certain cultural touchstones. This rules out ingesting an ungodly amount of individually-wrapped peanut butter cups in the dark. We had to change. It even affected the costumes our kids wore when they were younger. I mean, you can’t have the allergic kid wear Frankenstein creature makeup. How could you tell if he accidentally ate a Baby Ruth? 

“Is he saying “Fire bad” or “Epi Pen?” [shrug]

It can be hard to think about allergies if you don’t have one yourself. It’s like having a friend who can’t be in the same room as another friend. You have to hang out with them separately. This can be challenging, but it’s for the best.

Candy companies are getting better about packaging better non-peanut candies together in the Halloween variety packs. That improved our enjoyment of the holiday significantly (perhaps too much). 

Our kids are older now and don’t trick-or-treat anymore. We live deep in the woods where no trick-or-treaters have ventured in 16 years. But, I mean, you never know. This could be the year.

Twix bars are still pretty good, even without peanuts. Four bags ought to do it, right? Just in case.

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.



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