The scary trick-or-treating stories I heard as a kid reflected the political concerns of the time -- where people older than me were probably warned of hippy jerks dosing candy with LSD, I got very 1980s fables about satanists and the Three Musketeers bars and apples they loaded with razors for whatever satanic reasons. I can only imagine the Tales Of Trick-Or-Treat Danger currently in fashion; I assume it involves parents warning their children that a bunch of York Peppermint Patties were recalled for having Krokodil in them or something.
Anyway, this is, all of it, silly. The biggest risks for trick-or-treaters have long been, and remain, in order:
- Seriously damaging expensive orthodontia on a Goldenberg's Peanut Chew -- which, also, why are you even eating that?
- Administering Smarties/Pixie Stix in a non-traditional/non-oral manner -- e.g. crushed-and-snorted, freebased, etc.
- Charleston Chew and everything associated with Charleston Chew
- Religious pamphlets expressing harsh, retrograde visions of salvation
- Awkward interactions with friends-of-parents who are over-costumed or clearly intoxicated on some combination of Junior Mints and alcohol
There is nothing much else to worry about, although as ever it's a good idea to pay attention when crossing the street and I guess also when biting into any candies given to you by neighbors you know to be satanists. But if the scary trick-or-treat stories we remember from our youths were clearly overstated and ridiculous, it's worth remembering that trick-or-treating is not without risks. Below, you'll find several true stories* -- I'm very well-sourced in the trick-or-treater community -- about the experiences that various people have had trick-or-treating at houses owned by NFL eminences. Take them to heart, and be careful out there.
[Name Withheld], Trick-or-treated at Tom Coughlin's residence, Franklin Lakes, NJ
"You definitely heard things about Coughlin in the neighborhood, but you never know what to believe about all that. That he kept his lawn mowed to like the level of a putting green, and that you'd hear these just anguished screams coming from the house whenever 'America's Got Talent' was on, just chewing the contestants out mercilessly. So, yeah, we were apprehensive. But it's Halloween, so you figure whatever, let's go for it.
"So we went for it, and I promise you the lawn was exactly what you heard, he must've been out there with nail scissors just hammering away at it to keep it that crisp. We ring the bell, even though the house was kind of dark, and finally he answers. And at first I thought he was in costume, because he was wearing this hairshirt-type thing and this was around when The Da Vinci Code had come out, so I thought he was going as Paul Bettany in that movie. But my buddy Jeff asks him if that's the costume, and Coughlin just yells 'come on' at him and shakes his head really dramatically. He sort of stormed off, but left the door open, and when he came back he gave us each a little ziplock bag with some white vinegar in it and wished us a happy Halloween.
"I was surprised, I guess, because I thought he'd be giving out Mary Janes. I wanted to bet on it, but everyone I was with thought he'd be giving out Mary Janes, so no one would take the bet. When I got home, I gave my dad the vinegar-bag and he was like 'what?' He measured it out, though. It was exactly one ounce."
Jennifer, Trick-or-treated at Lane Kiffin's residence, Richmond, CA
"The first thing you need to understand is that Richmond's a lot different now than it was. Back in the 1970s, when the economy was a little better -- and it has always been weird to me that people don't talk about this more -- Al Davis built a subdivision in Richmond for all the Raiders coaches. He called it Victory Village, and the idea, as I understood it, was that the coaches should live near each other and so be able to work on stuff after hours.
"I guess it was a good idea, but the houses weren't really that good -- they were made entirely of chrome, which is apparently sort of hard to keep clean -- and Richmond started to sort of decline the way it has, and you can pretty much guess the rest. My parents talked about the old times, though. There was one year that every kid dressed as either Fred Biletnikoff or Jack Tatum in my mom's class. They used to go trick-or-treating at John Madden's house when he lived in Victory Village and I guess he'd just have all these honey-baked hams, and if you rang the doorbell he'd tear off a fistful and hand it to you. It was different, like I said. A different time.
"Anyway, by the time Kiffin took over obviously a lot of things had gone downhill. When the Raiders left Oakland in the '80s, Victory Village kind of went to shit. A lot of the people that moved in and live there now... I don't want to say anything bad, there are still a lot of good people in the neighborhood, but to give you an example, Norv Turner lived there when he was coaching the team, and to be safe in Victory Village he had to join the Crips.
"So Kiffin was living there when he was with the Raiders, and we go up to his door and are thinking, 'oh, it's the head coach of a NFL team, we're probably going to get full-size candy bars' or something cool like that. And Kiffin's the guy who gets the door, big smile, we're psyched and he's like 'oh wow, look at you guys, so scary.' And then he gave us each these 8x10 glossy photos of himself in a visor, and he'd signed them 'All Best, Lane Kiffin.' Which is disappointing, you know, because it's not candy. Also later we found out that the autograph wasn't even real. He had a stamp."
Ryan, Trick-or-treated at Mike Holmgren's residence, Ledgeview, WI
"No one ever believes me when I tell the Holmgren story, or no one who's not from Brown County (WI) believes it. But everyone who grew up in Ledgeview when Holmgren was running things remembers trick-or-treating at the Packers' places. It was the best, just totally different back then. [Brett] Favre would come out in the front yard, he'd always have some crazy costume on, and sling the ball around. People say he was like a kid out there, and you hear that on television and are like 'okay, right, I get it', but he really was like a kid. Like he'd be dressed as a dracula or whatever and clearly would eat too much candy -- I vividly remember the image of him having, like, several sour apple Jolly Ranchers stuck in the fur of his werewolf hands the year he was a werewolf -- and he'd just be really wild for a bit, but if you went there after 8:30 or thereabouts, Deanna would say he'd had 'too much fun' for the day and was asleep.
"But people believe that, it makes sense. Same thing for Reggie White giving out large-print bibles and none of our parents letting us trick-or-treat at [Mark] Chmura's house. But the Holmgren thing, okay: so you'd ring the doorbell and he'd get the door, all smiles -- he's a very nice man. But he'd get the door and he'd have this just cauldron of colby-jack cheese. Big old witch-style cauldron, and he'd have an actual wood fire going underneath it. And the candy he gave out -- I mean, it wasn't candy, but in the place of candy -- was a loaf of white bread that he'd hollowed out to make a bread bowl, and he'd fill it with cheese.
"And everyone I tell is like, 'no way, that's weird, why did your parents let you take a bread bowl full of bubbling cheese from a stranger?' And all I can tell them is, you know, he wasn't a stranger -- the Packers are just our neighbors up there. And, two, having a cauldron full of bubbling cheese near the door and offering someone a bread bowl full of it just isn't that weird a thing in that part of Wisconsin."
* Untrue stories