One of the earliest memories I have is of being six years old and going with my family around the lake that we lived by. Every year we’d spend about three hours walking around the lakeside community picking up as much candy as a pillowcase could hold. Afterward, sitting around on the living room with my friends, we’d compare and trade candies because kids can’t handle money but can deal with sugar. These are fairly common memories for a lot of people and I’m sure you can relate in more way than one. However, as is common with remembering things, especially from when you were young, memories are usually more rose-tinted. However, as the holiday comes back around, I begin to think of some of the worst things I ever got for Halloween.

1. Black Licorice

Tastes like asshole. Black licorice looks like play-dough after you put it through one of the playsets to make hair. It’s a candy that came from over a century earlier, and like most things that are old, it hasn’t held up that well. It’s a taste and smell that reminds me of cottages on a prairie, eating peanuts out of a barrel, and dying at the age of 25. I yelled at pumpkin spice Pringles in an earlier article but licorice has been attempting to taste like alcohol for centuries. It’s a testament to the product that most people forget that Twizzlers come in a color other than red.

2. Mini Pretzel Bags

I love pretzels, don’t get me wrong. They’re one of my favorite snacks. Yet it seemed that every time I ever got pretzels as a kid, the kind in those tiny bags, they had been evidently stored in the Gobi desert for years. And they were never even regular pretzels, they were the weird bat shaped ones that were always broken so my entire bag was filled with right angles. In a particularly bad case one year I decided to try and eat the contents of the aforementioned bag and tried to eat the crumbs at the bottom. I then realized that the mini bags of pretzels are mostly filled with air and salt. Lesson learned.

3. Notepads and Pens

I have a theory that people who worked at Bic have a surplus of crap and need to get rid of it. Everyone also remembers going to the house who for some reason felt that instead of candy, kids would rather much enjoy a stack of paper. You know that thing that everyone has in their houses already. More than once I’d return home, dump out my bag and find that I now had office supplies. Maybe it was an attempt to get kids ready for a job in the future. Or maybe I’m making excuses for being disappointed. Do people genuinely think that kids want this? And a pen too? High fucking rolling.

4. Pamphlets

Sometimes there are days when kids don't need to celebrate the joy of youth and instead face the inevitable mortality of death.The worst offenders are the neighbors whose beliefs apparently ban them from carrying sugar in a bucket and answering a doorbell. Several houses, especially those in older communities would often give me these bright orange -ironically festive- pamphlets about turning away from my sinful ways. That is something very heavy to lay on a group of kids who’d just managed to use a toilet without falling in and being able to chew solid food. These families were usually very strict Christian groups and decided to tell a six-year-old he would burn in hell for dressing up as a pumpkin. There’s probably better ways of sending a message honestly and scaring children, is not one of them. I’m not sure having a bag of skittles qualifies me for eternal damnation and you probably don’t win any favors for telling kids that.