CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 1, 2016 – As the final week of the presidential campaign supposedly brings the strangest election in American history to a close, it’s difficult to believe which one is more frightening, Halloween or the two candidates.
Perhaps today’s trivia will help.
1 – Halloween candy: Most people say Thanksgiving is the best American holiday. But if you’re a kid, Halloween gets the nod, even though it really doesn’t qualify as a holiday. Why? Because of all that great candy, of course.
Believe it or not, the Halloween tradition of going house to house, known as “Trick or Treating,” did not come to the United States until the 1920s or 30s. Back then, the “treats” weren’t just candy either. They also included toys and even money.
That tradition changed when candy companies began to capitalize on the idea of offering “fun-sized” treats and miniature sweets, which were less expensive and, as far as the kids were concerned, more enjoyable. Candy corn, popcorn balls and candied apples were among the earliest Halloween favorites, but today anything goes.
With individually wrapped candy, parents found it much easier to buy a big bag of goodies to pass out before the children were able to dive into their sacks of sugar…and then pass out themselves.
2 – Cabbage Night? Yuck: Before candy was the focus of Halloween treats, another food often took precedence during All Hallows Eve. The notorious kill-joy: cabbage, of all things! In fact, in some places Halloween was even known as “Cabbage Night.” No wonder candy eventually took the cake so to speak.
One tradition popular with young girls back in the days of yore was using a cabbage stump as part of telling fortunes, particularly when it involved making predictions about their future mates.
Another more popular tradition was throwing cabbages at neighbors’ houses. No surprise that that tradition didn’t last very long.
Most likely it was abandoned by slaw enforcement officials.
3 – Renaissance of the pumpkin: Thanks to the Irish, not only do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and green beer. The Emerald Island is also responsible for giving the lowly pumpkin a new lease on life.
Back in the day before the Irish potato famine began sending Irish immigrants to the New World by the literal boatload, pumpkins were regarded as a nuisance by farmers. Nobody would ever have imagined using a pumpkin as the prime ingredient for a pie.
Instead, the Halloween tradition in those days was to carve designs in turnips and turn them into lanterns to light the way on the last cold, dark day of October.
That changed in the 19th century however, when Irish immigrants to America discovered a bigger and better substitute for the turnip, using those once disdained pumpkins instead as the preferred vegetable for carving Jack-o’-lanterns and, eventually, for making the now ubiquitous pumpkin pie.
Pumpkins turned out to be a better choice for jack-o-lanterns than turnips. Or cabbages. And besides they were much more difficult to throw.
4 – Trump’s chairman of the board: Long before “The Apprentice” ever found its way to television, Donald Trump had his own board game. Released in 1988 under the name of, you guessed it, “Trump the Game,” the object, similar to Monopoly, was for players to invest in real estate properties while attempting to bankrupt their opponents.
Could that game have been the source of the phrase “One no trump”?
5 – Semper Fi Clinton: Believe it or not, Hillary Rodham tried to join the U.S. Marines before she married Bill Clinton in 1975. Whether it was to make a political statement or not, she was rejected by the recruiter on three points: she was “too old,” she couldn’t see very well, and she was a woman.
Women Marines have been around since World War II, so there’s a good chance the recruiter was in the brig before the day was over.
Perhaps more telling however, is a vignette told about the Clintons, concerning their reaction when they received a campaign check from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1992.
Bill Clinton looked at it and immediately said, “We can’t cash this.”
To which Hillary simply replied, “Make a copy, and then cash it.”
Just remember: voting will be over by this time next week. As for all the shouting? Well, that’s another story…
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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