Trick-or-Treat: A Brief History

Trick-or-Treat: A Brief History


Trick-or-Treat, like many American traditions, is an amalgam of practices smashed into one juicy capitalist sandwich. Here are the ingredients we were able to identify in our research…

  • ~ 0 AD The pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain took place on October 31. People dressed up in animal skin costumes to celebrate their dead friends, and left food out to keep said dead fed. 


  • ~ 400-1300 AD folks dressed as malevolent creatures (ghosts and demons and whatnot) in exchange for food and drink, in a practice called “mumming” which sounds sexual, but apparently isn’t. 


  • 1605 AD Guy Fawkes fails to blow up a parliament building in a Catholic-lead coup attempt against King James I… his silly little face is donned by many on Guy Fawkes Day, which now reminds people of Natalie Portman. 


  • 1840’s AD - Irish folk come to America amid the Potato Famine… some continue to celebrate a version of Samhain, which blends into the English practice of mumming (still a yucky term), which also rings the Fawkes bell, for those petty ass protestants on their 240th victory lap. 

  • 1929 AD The Great Depression leads roving youths into all manner of shenanigans, brought on by economic strife and some pretty distracted parents. This, combined with the amalgam of dress-up holidays coming from across the pond, makes for some gooood trickin’


  • 1945 AD World War 2 - somehow the war depletes America’s sugar supply. Tasteless biscuits circulate. Nobody is happy. 

  • 1950’s AD the Baby Boom - children are running rampant, sugar is back. An entire generation consumes massive amounts of sugar, pondering how they’ll ruin the country for all subsequent generations. Big Candy takes notice. 

  • Present day - Americans spend an estimated 2.6 billion dollars on candy alone on Halloween. Big Candy flashes a rotted toothed grin and laughs menacingly. Capitalism wins. Children cheer, dressed as Marvel characters.