Trick or Treat

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

By the 1930s the American Halloween celebration had become largely the province of pre-adolescent boys whose mischievous pranks on the night had gradually become more and more destructive as they moved into urban areas, until many cities considered banning the festival altogether. However, homeowners soon discovered that it was more practical to buy off the pranksters with planned activities, which included parties, games, costuming, and foods. A famed 1939 article “A Victim of the Window-Soaping Brigade?” from American Home magazine suggests inviting the mischief-makers into the home for doughnuts and apple cider, and provides possibly the first national mention of the term “trick or treat.” See doughnuts.