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The 13 Houses You Encounter On Halloween

A Practical Field Guide for Neighborhood Trick-Or-Treating.

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There's one in every neighborhood... the one house that turns into an abandoned mausoleum come Halloween night. Zero lights, zero holiday spirit, and most importantly, zero candy.

Coming across the "Party Pooper" house not only stalls the momentum of the trick-or-treating caravan, but also acts as a major (albeit temporary) buzzkill on every member of your party.



There's nothing quite like the confused, disgusted, and betrayed feeling you experience when your enthusiastic shout of "Trick-Or-Treat!!" does not result in candy, but instead yields a cruel alternative: a pencil, eraser, stickers, or other inedible abominations of the office supply variety.

If you are unlucky enough to live on a street with a sadistic murderer-of-fun (or a dentist...but he has his own house on this list), you know first-hand how much this stings. You've been working on your costume for months, done some method-acting to really get into the psyche of your character, and for what? A stupid pencil with a pumpkin on one end?* This is the stuff that crushes dreams, people.

*and it's not even a functional eraser, so you can't erase your work, only smear it into oblivion



I'm all for healthy eating, and childhood obesity is obviously something we desperately need to work on.... BUT NOT ON HALLOWEEN, PEOPLE. I love me some Michelle Obama, and I whole-heartedly support her Let's Move initiative. But come on, it's ONE NIGHT. It's Halloween! Is nothing sacred?!

It's the one night of the year that gives kids a blank-check for candy. In fact, the whole point is to get as MUCH candy as you can while running around in itchy, rash-inducing polyester costumes that cost your parents a small fortune.

An apple, a box of raisins, or bag of pretzels simply does not factor into this equation -- the closest thing to health food in your treat-bag should be a sour-apple Jolly Rancher. You have the other 364 days of the year to eat healthy. On Halloween, Snickers is a perfectly acceptable food group.



It may not happen every single year, but at least once in your trick-or-treating career, you will come across this house, whose owner has decided to hand out homemade "goodies" instead of store-bought candy.

There are a few problems inherent in the DIY Halloween Handout Philosophy:

1. You trick-or-treat for candy. Not amorphous blobs of what-could-be-a-brownie-but-also-kinda-resembles-freshly-laid-asphalt.

2. Kids have allergies, and lots of them. Sure, the kid with the peanut allergy will inevitably accrue some Snickers, Reese's, and other delicious, peanutty morsels along the way. BUT those candies are all individually wrapped, factory-sealed, and say on the package "may contain peanuts". When one hands that kid a bundle of loosely-plastic-wrapped cookies, he/she could be handing little Johnny DEATH. Or at least anaphylaxis.

3. (obviously, the most likely scenario) He/she is a serial killer who has poisoned or otherwise tampered with the homemade baked goods, rendering them deadly. Talk about death by chocolate *ba dum tshh* ( was too easy).



A second cousin to the Party Pooper House, the people in this house decide to half-ass the trick-or-treating responsibility and put a receptacle of candy outside, either on their porch, front steps, or driveway. The "Honor-System" House is synonymous with the "Giving the Minimum of Shits" House.

I understand that they may be trick-or-treating with their own children, but the 'honor-system' is inherently flawed. First and foremost, because kids are little assholes. And on Halloween they turn into mega-hyper-assholes, and the whole "just take x amount of pieces" thing does not in any way deter them from scooping giant armfuls of candy out of the bowl. So exactly 1 Trick-or-Treat group benefits from this house. Except for those first on the scene, the Honor-System House might as well be the Party Pooper House.



I'm not suggesting that brand names are everything. Well ok, I am, but only in the matter of Halloween candy.

Unmarked candy instigates an immediate distrust of the person handing it out. (Probably because he/she is related to the serial killer giving out the homemade death cookies.) A brand name treat guarantees satisfaction, or at the very least, provides a bulk of nutritional information and ways to contact the manufacturer should something go awry in the consumption of said treat. There is no such assurance with generically Halloween-decorated sweets.

When you receive suspiciously nondescript candy, with no recognizable markings or logos, your initial response should be to segregate it from the rest of your haul, then give your best "I know where you live if this crap gives me the runs" look to the person at the door, and trot on down the street to the next, hopefully better-stocked, house on your route.



Ah, the Time-Warp house. This house usually belongs to an sweet old couple, or a family of stoners who grabbed the bag with "Mary Jane" on it.

Treats that were popular during WWII are a favorite of this house; candy that your grandparents or parents remember fondly is often found here. What the hell is a Bit-O-Honey anyway? Or a Charleston Chew?

Bottom line: If your Nana knows what it is, it will be in the melee of candy given out at this house.


Via Flickr: powderedsugar

More simply, it's the house owned by a dentist.

Whether it's floss, toothbrushes, or sample sizes of toothpaste, the dentist's house will not provide anything containing sugar.

If you're lucky, they'll hand out sugarfree gum (no seriously, I have multiple relatives who are dentists, I've seen it firsthand), but don't count on it. Dentists, while valuable professionals in the medical world, are murderers of happiness and fun on Halloween. Skip this house, unless you have a hankering for improving your oral care regimen.



This, the rarest of Trick-or-Treating destinations, is only found in a handful of neighborhoods every year. If you come a-calling at this abode, expect to come away with an overall feeling of "...da fuck?", because all bet's are off when you encounter the No-Shits-Were-Given house.

Here's the basic rundown of the NSWGH:

The inhabitants run around their dwelling, collecting odds and ends to supplement their 1 bag of Halloween candy (which was probably purchased at a discount on November 1st of last year). It could be anything from a children's carnival prize to a roll of Lifesavers -- but it will always be random and it will always be slightly past its prime.

Here are some examples: hotel shampoo, a snack-size pack of limited edition Oreos (that was clearly handed out as a free sample at Sam's Club or other such establisment), sugar-free chocolate for diabetics, and my favorite (because I actually received this once) a bag of Southwest Airlines peanuts.

**although, for some of us, wine in our trick-or-treat bag would be totally acceptable



(For the younger Trick-or-Treaters, or those of you sporting elaborate get-ups that include glitter, wigs, fairy wings, masks, tutus, boas, or anything else that clearly shows some time and effort went into its construction: you don't have to worry about this house, so skip to number 11.)

OLDER TEENAGERS AND COSTUME MINIMALISTS BEWARE: this is the house where you will get your head handed to you on a plate, if you're not careful.

The proprietor of this residence will come to the door, and upon discovering you are past what they consider appropriate trick-or-treating age, or are merely wearing regular clothes with a 'clever' costume concept, will deny you candy, or at least make it more difficult to obtain, much like a troll guarding a bridge or a Sphinx posing a riddle.

Common questions you should be prepared to answer (all asked in a syrupy sweet voice that belies her cruel motivation to withhold candy):

*Ohhhh and what are WE supposed to be?!

*Aren't you a little old to be trick-or-treating?

*Oh my goodness, I didn't see you there, since you aren't wearing much of a costume!



The Candy Nazi for whom this house is named can operate in one of two ways:

1) They will personally select ONE piece of candy to place in each trick-or-treater's bag.

2) They allow the trick-or-treater to select his/her own candy...but reiterate (in a loud, exaggerated manner) that only ONE piece is to be selected.

If a trick-or-treater makes the fatal mistake of reaching for multiple pieces, he/she incurs the wrath of the Candy Nazi. And the same goes for demanding a different piece than the one the Candy Nazi selected.

Bottom Line: do what the Candy Nazi says, smile, nod, and back away slowly. You may have come away with a Snickers when you wanted the Twizzlers, but at least all your appendages are intact.

You do not want to anger the Candy Nazi. Period.



The one, shining star in the neighborhood is the house that decides to hand out full-size candy bars. This is one of the best decisions a homeowner can make.

Electing to distribute full-size product not only garners favor with the neighborhood youth, but almost completely guarantees their property protection from toilet-papering, egging, the destruction of pumpkins, and other acts of Halloween vandalism.

In short, one can NEVER go wrong with full-size candy bars. It is foolproof.



We've all seen this house.

Maybe it's the suspicious sketchy-looking scarecrow sitting on the porch.

Maybe it's the lack of ample lighting.

Or maybe it's your tingling spidey senses.

But something about this house screams: IT'S A TRAP.

You've seen the viral videos, where an unsuspecting trick-or-treater is scared by the sudden movement of what they thought was an inanimate object. Or maybe you've seen ANY HORROR MOVIE EVER and just have a general uh-oh feeling about this whole set up.

Usually the inhabitants want only to scare their victims in good-natured Halloween fashion. But on the off chance that you DO have a closet serial killer (see #4) living in your neighborhood, it's probably best to keep walking.

Unless they have full size Reese's peanut butter cups. Then it might be worth it.

And now, my children, after a long night of (for the most part) successful trick-or-treating, it is time for the annual Halloween sugar coma:


Good job out there, troops -- a solid trick-or-treating adventure indeed. Until next year!

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