Halloween festivities in university look a bit different than they did as a kid. While making plans for October 31st, I can’t help but get nostalgic about the childhood era of trick-or-treating. When else was it socially acceptable to go door-to-door asking for candy?

When you’re a kid with a laundry list of food allergies, however, your Halloween experience is a little atypical.

Jocelyn Hsu

While most kids were warned not to eat candy before getting home because of that “razor blade in the candy apple” urban myth, my parents were more concerned about allergic reactions. I guess it’s a valid fear that a kid having a bona-fide anaphylaxis could be mistaken as a Halloween costume to passerbys. It does look pretty scary.

Other than that, the actual trick-or-treating process was just like any other kid. I dressed up and happily did my lap around the neighbourhood, loading up on candy. When I got to a house that was handing out Reese’s pieces, Oh Henry! Bars or anything else that was allergy-laden, I accepted the candy knowing full well that I wouldn’t be eating it later.

While that last sentence sounds super upsetting, it actually wasn’t. Upon returning home from my candy haul, I would dump my candy out onto the living room floor. The remainder of the evening was spent sorting candy into two piles: “safe” and “unsafe." No ingredient label went unchecked. What the heck was carnauba wax or ascorbyl palmitate? It didn’t matter—as long as it wasn’t peanut or egg.

After a few hours of reading very tiny fine print on cellophane wrappers, something had to be done with the unsafe pile. Usually, I would swap the allergen-containing candy with the peanut-free candy my parents were handing out. It was a win-win situation.

I got the same amount of candy, and my “reject pile” was now the problem of other trick-or-treaters. Looking back, I really hope they didn’t have allergies.

If any of the allergen candy remained, it would leave the house with my dad on his way to work the following day.

A photo posted by Kelly (@prettybeeblog) on

Over the years, the variety of peanut-free Halloween candy that exists has increased dramatically. In fact, there’s probably never been a better time to be a trick-or-treater with a peanut allergy. 

Although my trick-or-treating days are long behind me, I still feel a surge of happiness whenever I see that peanut symbol with the X through it.