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Around Town, Showcase, Student Life

How to Trade Your Halloween Candy This Year


Candy of all shapes and sizes spills out from a plastic pumpkin onto a kitchen table in Baystate Village—Reese’s peanut butter cups, M&M’s, and Blowpops rattle and roll around while candy continues to flow. Then the atmosphere completely transforms. Cheap chocolates get shoved under full-size bars, pretzels and raisins getting tossed aside. Business chatter fills the small kitchen.

Sound familiar? This is how post-Halloween activities play out for most kids after trick-or-treating. But “kids” extends all the way from elementary to to high school students. And the kids agree that there is a right way and a wrong way to trade Halloween candy.

There is only one rule to trading candy: do not, under any circumstances, throw everyone’s candy into a pile and distribute it equally. Northampton High School student Jonathan Goldman (who credits himself with “starting” trick-or-treating in his hometown of Levring, Denmark), age 17, and Northampton High School student Emma Almanzar, 16, expressed extreme disgust at the thought of candy “communism.”

Candy trading relies on sly, real-world business strategies. Here are the basics, from candy sharks themselves, for anyone new to the game.

First, a candy’s worth must be assessed before it can be traded. A candy’s value “really depends on the size,” according to Emma. “A full size candy bar always beats fun size ones, even if you like the flavor of the smaller bars better.”

Jonathan agrees, but noted that Milky Way Caramels, which mysteriously only seem to appear around Halloween, are the “greatest thing that ever happened in life,” and should be appraised at a high value no matter the size.

After size, brand and type of candy determines its value. Candies that make for good trades include Three Musketeers, Hershey’s chocolate, and Milkyway bars, say Jon and Emma.

Once the candy has been appraised, traders can begin to sort and pile their candy. Every trader has his or her signature technique. And in fact, those techniques can be quite sneaky.

“If you put some good candy with a lot of bad candy, it makes the offer seem better than it is,” says Emma. The “good” candy could be valuable in general, or just a favorite of the trading client. That candy gets lumped with a decent amount of candies that the trader would just like to get rid of, and marketed as an excellent deal due to the sheer volume of candy present.

Jonathan and Adele, an 11 year old elementary school student, prefer to butter up their trading partners before moving into important trades. Adele’s secret? “Offer them a lollipop, because everybody loves lollipops!” Jon, on the other hand, will begin by trading one or two items at a time. Afterwards, he says, he moves on to large “all or nothing” trades like Emma.

And as a last resort, these kids have two extra tricks up their sleeve. A warning, however: the following tactics may cause temporary friend loss if used unsuccessfully.

If you’d like to have your candy, and eat it, too, Jonathan reveals he once unwrapped some of his most valuable candies, ate them, and gave his partners the wrappers, even “stuff(ing) some of them with paper” to make them more realistic.

Adele is probably too young to use such cruel methods, but she has gone through with some so-called “bad trades.” In exchange for sugary goodness, Adele convinces her partners that a repulsive candy they’ve never tried is heavenly. Speed and skillful marketing triumph— “by the time they figure out (their candy is bad), you’ve already eaten yours!”

The final step in any candy trade is the Mom and Dad Tax. If the parents are present, they have the right to force children to set aside candy. Heavily debated, the Mom and Dad Tax is under more scrutiny than any of these dubious trading schemes.

“It’s tyranny!” Jonathan roars. “If parents want candy, they have to dress up and go trick-or-treating like everyone else.” In his candy camp, putting in the work for the bounty is a must.

Emma, more ambivalent, says that it’s fine if parents want some candy because she’s “not going to eat it all.”

Much like any big endeavor in America, anything goes when trading your candy. The most clever, disingenuous, and furtive traders will hit the jackpot this Halloween.