Happy Retro Halloween!

Let’s travel back to 1975, when the world was less complicated and Halloween was a day-long sugar orgy. It was a simple holiday; I knock on your door–you give me candy.

Since then, Halloween has become a multi-million dollar business. Leave it to Americans to prostitute fear. And candy.


1975: I’d open my costume box which consisted of a plastic mask with death-hole eye sockets and a plastic-tarp of a costume. Or I’d get a homemade princess costume.  (And BTW, being a graceful princess is difficult when you have five layers of sweaters under your ball gown, making it look like you just ate a princess.)

wonder woman

(My Wonder Woman death mask.)

Now: You can purchase elaborate costumes all year long. They’re expensive, gory and (for females) crossing the border into Slutville. You can’t just be a princess. You have to be a branded princess–with a history and a back story, and a bustier.

Pumpkin Carving

1975: Before the cool carving kits, all we had was a paring knife and our imaginations. You could carve triangles, squares or circles. That was it. Most pumpkins looked either a) scary, b) startled, or c) mutilated. Someone was always accidentally stabbed.

Now: Pumpkin carving is an Olympic sport. Displays of sculpted pumpkins adorn porch stoops. Intricately designed pumpkins mock my basic smiley-faced squash.

alien pumpkin(This never happened 40 years ago.)


1975: My mother taped Halloween pictures in the front window, and if she was going all out, she’d twist black and orange crepe paper across the window.  We were a simple people in the ’70s.

Now: People invest big bucks in Halloween decorations. Front lawns display graveyards, witch covens, torture chambers and colossal spider webs. People spend more on Halloween décor than I spend for Christmas shopping.

halloween display(It’s beginning to look a  lot like excess.)

School Parties

1975: Classroom parties consisted of four things. First, the Halloween parade where we’d dash through classrooms for fellow students and parents. Second, we’d play Halloween Bingo vying for a black and orange pencil. Third, we would decorate ONE pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie. (My cookie had more frosting and sprinkles than Ke$ha’s underwear drawer.)

Fourth, we would sit in a circle and sing Halloween songs. “Halloween Cat/ Halloween Cat/ Why do you mew and mew like that?/Neither I nor the moon/Like your tune/So SCAT! Halloween Cat” (I know. Pure poetry.)

Now: Schools are doing away with Halloween parties, parades, songs, and fun. What’s the point of going to school if you can’t dress up on Halloween? I’m predicting a rise in drop-out rates.


1975: Some kids used cute pumpkin buckets to beg for candy, but I had no qualms about looking like a greedy bastard when it came to getting my share of the Halloween booty. I grabbed a king-size pillowcase to gather my candy, never worrying I looked like a homeless Wonder Woman. Plus, the holiday was a night-long event where we’d travel the county looking for homes giving out whole candy bars.

Now: Sanitized versions of trick-or-treating have popped up all over the country. New rules consist of, “Only visit the neighbors we know,” “Stay off the freeway,” “Get home before 7 p.m.” and “Let’s all go as a family!” Babies.

And don’t get me started on Trunk-or-Treating.

Sugary Goodness

My sugar addiction is well documented.

As a child, my diet consisted of Sugar Pops, sugar cookies, Sugar Babies and sugar straight from the bowl. We lived in Murray, Utah, about a mile from a small store called Mr. G’s where I spent every waking moment perusing the candy aisles, deciding which sugar-filled candy item to stuff in my face. (Answer: everything.)

I would also buy candy cigarettes and Fresca (because Fresca looked like a beer can). I’m sure I convinced all my neighbors that little 9-year-old Peri was a raging alcoholic and a chain smoker.


My most common purchases at Mr. G’s included:

B-B-Bats (any flavor).

Wax bottles filled with a teensy amount of sugary liquid (might have been a sedative).

Charms Sweet & Sour Pops that would make the roof of  my mouth bleed.

Freshen Up gum that had a squirt of something oozy in the middle (Ewww).

Bottle Caps –especially the Coke flavor because my mom wouldn’t let me drink Coke.

Big Hunks–a “chewy” nougat bar with nuts–responsible for pulling out at least five of my teeth.

Candy necklaces that would mix with the my sweat in the summertime and turn my neck into a rainbow of pastel colors. I tried to lick my neck. Didn’t work.

Razzles. Yeah, it’s supposed to be gum but I ate them like candy.

Luden’s cherry cough drops–or black licorice drops. For no particular reason.

Candy lipstick (to put on after I finished my candy cigarette and Fresca beer).

Licorice Snaps (which I HATED but still ate). Hey, they were made of sugar.

By the way, my dentist loved me.

What was your childhood addiction? Is there a candy you loved? Share with me. Make me feel like I’m not the only child from the ’70s addicted to anything sugar.