In the small-town neighborhood where I grew up, the Stenavage family’s house stood above all others each Halloween. They did it up right. Colored spotlights. Theatrical cobwebs. And, suspended from the roof hanging over their second-floor porch, the coup de grâce: a life-size green-skinned hook-nosed black-hatted witch riding a broomstick.

Spooky but not scary, no house has ever looked more welcoming to a cabal of young trick-or-treaters.

It is 1980. My nose is sweating under the cheap plastic mask held to my face with a rubber band stretched across the back of my head. I am seven years old. Ding-dong. The door opens, and there’s nice Mrs. Stenavage. The house is lit by a slew of candles, and looks just as Halloweeny inside as out. She feigns ignorance as to our identities and praises our costumes after we reveal our faces. Her own children are older, teenagers. Mrs. Stenavage just loves Halloween.

And then, the treasure. No little packs of Smarties or Tootsie-Rolls or “treat-size” SweeTarts or any other typical bought-for-Halloween sugar-and-sour fare. No, Mrs. Stenavage always offered the real deal: giant full-size chocolate bars. Hershey’s bars (with and without almonds), Mr. Goodbars, Kit-Kats, and, oh yes, the chairman of the candy bar board, bright orange wrappers glowing in the candlelight like the golden idol in front of Indiana Jones: full-size two-packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

“Go ahead, take two.” Jackpot. I’m a millionaire.


Candygrams are odes to candy by guest authors during the month of October.

John Gruber

John Gruber writes Daring Fireball, a somewhat popular weblog ostensibly focused on Mac and web nerdery.


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