Trick or Treating in the 80s – The 7 Worst Halloween Treats

by Jason Gross @SockofFleagulls on October 7, 2014

in Lists, The 80s

I always enjoyed watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as a kid. I’m also glad that my two boys look forward to watching the same Charlie Brown specials each year as I did.

Their favorite part in the Halloween special seems to be the part where Charlie Brown gets a bag full of rocks during trick-or-treating. I had to explain to them that back when the tradition first started, it might have been possible to get a “trick” instead of a “treat.”

Charlie Brown’s “I got a rock” got me thinking though…I did get some “tricks” back when I was trick-or-treating in the mid 80s. They might have been intended to be treats, but some of the stuff I received was downright nasty.

I don’t necessarily blame the adults though, because there was a potential flaw in the system. If your parents or grandparents never asked you what you liked, how would they have any clue what kids liked? Some adults were more receptive to candy suggestions than others. The “trick” was knowing what houses had kids with influence, as they were much more likely to have good candy like Pop Rocks or Nerds.

On the other hand, I think we all had houses we avoided based on the previous year’s “treats,” and also had a few that were a crap shoot each time you rang the doorbell. So what were those treats that made us want to pull a Gallagher on our neighbor’s pumpkins? Here’s a list of the 7 worst treats I remember getting on Halloween night in the mid 80s:



I can probably attribute my dwindling consumption of peanut butter flavored candy to Chick-O-Stick. I think we all had the same reaction when we saw it in our Halloween bag for the first time…”what is this, chicken-flavored?” (It was actually named for its original chicken mascot.)

Once we figured out it wasn’t chicken flavored, we bit into it and found it had the texture of a dead tree branch. Take one bite and it would almost splinter. Plus, you couldn’t really chew it because it stuck so much to your teeth! Granted, the candy has a long history but whoever came up with a crystallized turd as a potential candy form needs another job.


Little Hugs

This treat was probably the one that ruined trick-or-treat for me permanently. One of the final years I remember going house-to-house in search of candy, I had accumulated a pretty full bag. One of the last houses I hit at the end of block threw in a Little Hug. I actually liked them and my Gram’s fridge was usually fully stocked when I came for a visit.

Well, you can probably guess what happened…the foil lid split open on a lollipop stick and leaked all over my candy. Didn’t notice until a friend saw my bag dripping. I was able to salvage the candy that was sealed, but the loose wrapper candy and stuff in cardboard boxes didn’t fair too well. Good rule of thumb…NO LIQUIDS! (Except for maybe those wax bottles. I liked those for some reason.)


Black/Orange Taffy

The WORST taffy ever created. What in the name of Willy Wonka was that flavor? It sure wasn’t peanut butter. I swear if they had done one of those old school Pepsi/Coke taste tests with a piece of this taffy and a piece of silly putty, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference…or might even choose the putty!

The crazy part is my dad loved them. When I got home and dumped out my bag to sort out the good from the bad, ALL of my black and orange taffy went straight to dad.



Yeah, I get it…we all did. Candy rots our teeth and the one day of the year that it was okay to carry around a sack full to munch on, some health nut had to make a point. Apples, oranges, raisin boxes…all fruit should’ve been taboo on All Hallows’ Eve. You just didn’t know if you were getting the leftovers from their bob-for-apples slobber fest.

Most people trick-or-treating in this era will remember the urban legend of some crazy person sticking razor blades in apples to trick kids. This had to have been made up by a smart kid in elementary school. Picture it. Group of kids are huddled around a lunchroom table the day after Halloween, debating how to keep fruit out of their trick-or-treat bags next year. One kid steps up and says “Hey why don’t we ask the dork sitting by himself at that other table.”

They ask the dork to come up with a plan in exchange for going easy on him for the rest of the semester. The dork tells them to call numerous TV stations and newspapers about finding razor blades in their apples. One kid says “Wait, that won’t work! Who’s gonna believe that 10 kids are eating apples on Halloween?” The dork comes back and says “It will work. Parents are too concerned over safety and naive enough to believe that someone is trying to cut out kid’s tongues.” The group agrees and the rest is history which, for awhile, helped cut back on our fruit consumption around Halloween.


Boston Baked Beans

Baked beans in a box…terrific idea. First fruit…now vegetables? Wait, what? They aren’t beans but peanuts? Well, why not just call them baked peanuts? Anyway, these were just weird and not worth the brain power to figure out what they were, let alone eat them.

If you were brave enough to open up a box, you know the candy aspect was lacking. A couple bites in and you were 1) wondering where they candy taste went and 2) wishing you had a 6 pack of Little Hugs to douse these shards of peanut in your throat. Probably would’ve been more popular had they called them Boston Protein Pills and just swallowed them with a glass of water.


Halloween Stationery

…because there is nothing like trick-or-treating to make you want to go home and do homework. I remember getting pencils and erasers in my bag. Really? Guess these adults never realized that this was the time when Gummi everything was on the market. So when you opened up your bag and thought “Yum, a Gummi ghost!” and then got home and realized it was an eraser, it was a huge disappointment.

I always thought pencils, erasers, and even coins were like the homeowner did a face palm at the sound of the doorbell and just opened up the junk drawer to find something to pass out. “Hi kids! For you Timmy, I have a Bic lighter…always dependable! And for you Sally, here’s a sleeve of staples. Careful they are sharp. And for you Billy, thumbtacks in assorted colors! You kids, enjoy! See you next year!” Umm, thanks…now pardon me while I relieve myself on your cat.


Circus Peanuts

So they were shaped like a peanut…that’s about all they had going for them in my book. You never knew if you were getting the “sitting in an old lady’s candy jar” kind that doubled as a door stop or if you were getting the “fresh Play-doh” kind. If you know their history- a guy actually chopped one up and put it in with his Cheerios, and that’s how we got Lucky Charms, ladies and gentlemen. (No joke.)

But they aren’t even marshmallows to me! They had that day-old McDonald’s french fries heated up in the microwave texture you had to gum for 2 minutes to eat. And I swear at one point, Nerf took over production of Circus Peanuts and I was using them in my dart gun. To steal a line from Jim Gaffigan, I’ve never ate a Circus Peanut and thought “Yeah, I’m glad I ate that.”


Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) is the creator of Rediscover the 80s and loves to subject his two sons to cartoons, TV, movies, and music from the decade. Currently promoting a M.A.S.K. live-action movie script (co-writer), he enjoys freelance writing about 80s music & pop culture.

Dex (@Dex1138) October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

I got some cool skull erasers that I’m giving out but they’re going in the treat bags with other toys and, of course, candy!

Howie Decker October 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

totally acceptable, very cool actually. Maybe we’ll swing by if we’re in the neighborhood!

Jason aka SockofFleagulls October 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Very acceptable if you got them grouped in with some edibles.

ShezCrafti October 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Haha I love Jim Gaffigan and I hate circus peanuts. Chick-o-Stick? Ick-o-Stick! And those black & orange taffy things are vile and right up there with candy corn (which I loathe) as far as I’m concerned. I can’t agree on the Boston Baked Beans, though. I’ve always liked them as well as those French Burnt Peanuts; I would have loved to get those in my trick-or-treat bag (I know I’m probably in the minority, though)! Another gross candy I hated getting: flavored Tootsie Rolls.

Howie Decker October 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

flavored tootsie rolls seem to be garnering a lot of ire around the internet. I’m with you, I dug the BBBs as well as the other candies that came in similar Ferrara boxes (Lemonheads, the grape ones, etc). #IckoStick

Jason aka SockofFleagulls October 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Oh, those burnt peanuts were worse. Forgot about those! Weren’t those charred Rabbit pellets? (gags)

Now, on the flip side, I actually don’t mind the fruit flavored tootsie rolls. But the only way I’d eat a vanilla is WITH a regular chocolate tootsie roll. Nice mix.
Of course, I prefer more of the fruit flavored candy like Skittles over the chocolate stuff like M&Ms. But to each his (or her) own!

More0_0Than October 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

Wow, you hit two of my favorites, Chick-o-Stick and Boston Baked Beans! I do have to agree on the black and orange taffy and the fruit though, total buzzkill.

Howie Decker October 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

In a blind taste test, I think I’d like Chick-O-Stick too, because I’m a huge Butterfinger fan, and the texture is similar to the inside of one. I’m with Jay though, the presentation, especially to a little kid, sets them up for failure.

Jason @SockofFleagulls October 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Yeah, Butterfinger is way down on my list, probably because of Chick-O-Stick. Sorry, Bart Simpson…

MeisterShake October 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

The little hugs made great bombs for throwing at the next house that gave you crappy candy! Bombs Away!

ShezCrafti October 19, 2012 at 10:50 am


Howie Decker October 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

The awesomely diabolical nature of your mind makes me always yearn to be on your good side.

Jason @SockofFleagulls October 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Now that would’ve been more fun than throwing eggs, nice call.

When I was a stock clerk in college, we used to take the expired gallons of milk and instead of just pouring it down the drain, we’d throw them into the mop room from the back hallway…”milk bombs.” Of course we had a hose to just wash down the concrete walls when we were finished. Fun stuff.

Batfan October 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

You forgot Pennies. Used to have an old lady in our neighborhood that would drop a small handful of pennies in our bags.

Jason @SockofFleagulls October 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm

True. Although coins I didn’t really mind. There was a candy store within biking range of my house and pennies meant I could pick out my own candy!

Count Marzo October 20, 2012 at 11:57 am

I have haunting flashbacks of those terrible ass generic black/orange taffy things (if they even are considered taffy) every halloween. I used to seriously throw those things on the ground or at my friends or whatever something needed to be thrown at.

ClarenceRHM October 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Why pick on the Chik-o-Stiks, Hugs, and Boston Baked Beans? I like my odd-tasting candies. *sniff*

Philip October 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Wtf! I eat circus peanuts, Boston baked beans and chic-o-sticks on a regular basis. But I guess the rules don’t apply to sugar addicts like me.

Jeno October 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I used to hate when i would go to the asian families house and they would give you those little wafer things with the writing all over it in a different language.

I think the only thing worse than that was the Necco Wafers. Might have well just chewed on a chalk stick.

Howie Decker October 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Whoa! Never seen one of those. Thankfully, I guess!

Morgan R. Lewis October 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Never seen those “Little Hugs” before. Must have been a regional thing, or it must have started after I stopped trick-or-treating (I had to stop a little early thanks to moving to a rural area). Neat idea, but yeah… that cap doesn’t look like it’d be safe to lug around in a trick-or-treat pail.

Erasers and fruit, I’m in full agreement. Just not in the spirit of Halloween. At least, not if it’s just plain fruit. A candy apple or caramel apple is fine, in my book. But a box of raisins was always the “Whatever” item in my bag. And Circus Peanuts were only OK if they were at the right level of freshness, which they never were.

The other stuff you mention… I don’t really have a problem with. The orange/black taffy and Chick-o-stix were never my favorites, but they were all right. And I loved Boston Baked Beans. Them and burnt peanuts were among my favorite discoveries when sorting through my pail.

HowardTheDeck November 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I’m with you, I love the peanut-based candies that have an actual peanut as opposed to flavoring or peanut butter. I’m thinking about this way too much. And yes, the hugs were a thing here too and they weighed down the bag- most kids chugged them en route and chucked the empty on the lawn of the house giving out dental floss or some other egregious thing.

The Sewer Den October 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Brilliant write-up. All of these belong on this list, and in the trash.

Semi Picky October 20, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Tops on my trade-it-for-something-good was popcorn balls.

Five of us went trick or treating together in apartment buildings on our block, and some people would give the oldest one in the group a dollar for us to share. Bad idea–had to trust her to get our portion the next day.

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