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  • apples
  • cake
  • candy corn
  • Jack-O'Lanterns: pumpkins & turnips
  • kale
  • nuts
  • toffee apples

  • Ritual connections between food and the dead are ancient and cross many cultures. These began as pagan rituals and were later incorporated into the Catholic religion [All Hallows Eve/All Souls Day/All Saints Day].Recipes and rituals evolved according to local culture and cuisine. In Ancient Egypt, the dead were buried with honey cakes to eat in the afterlife. In the Netherlands, "Doed Koeks" were consumed by the mourners at funerals. Irish Samhain provided the basis for American Halloween. Sicilians welcome their dead with cartocci and tatu. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated with food-laden alters for departed dining.

    Celebrating the departed with food: a common multicultural tradition
    "Halloween and the Day of the Dead share a common origin in the Christian commemoration of the dead on All Saints' and All Souls' Day. In the case of Halloween, the Celtic celebration of Samhain is critical to its pagan legacy...In the case of the Day of the Dead, commentors routinely emphasize its pre-Columbian origins in the cults of the dead that abounded among the Nahuatl-sepaking peoples of central Mexico. The anthropologist Hugo Nuntini...has...noted those occasions, such as during the festivities of Tepeihuital, when images of the dead were placed on family altars and food was offered to them, much in the manner of ofrendas so centrao to the Day of the Dead. Other authors have stressed the peculiarly culinary aspects of the Aztec mortuary ritual in which wooden images of the god Huitzilopoochti, the solar diety who emerged every morning form the earth goddess Coaticue, were covered with a dough made of amaranth seed that was subsequently eaten by the celebrants." ---Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers [Oxford University Press:New York] 2002 (p. 142-143)

    Traditional Halloween foods & customs

    The Halloween Americans celebrate today is a very modern twist on an ancient pagan ritual. The recurring themes of fall foods, mumming, and divination are the primary connectors. Our survey of historic cookbooks and newspapers confirms Americans began celebrating Halloween in the early 20th century. This was a period when theme parties were trendy. Party suggestions for adults, teens and children grew as the century progressed. It was not until after World War II that Trick-or-Treat, as we know it today, originated.

    "Halloween...is thought to have derived from a pre-Christian festival known as Samhain...celebrated among the Celtic peoples...Samhain was the principal feast day of a year that began on 1 November. Traditionally, bonfires were lit as part of the celebration. It was believed that the spirits of those who had died during the previous twelve months were granted access into the otherworld during Samhain...Scholars know little about the actual practicies and beliefs associated with Samhain. Most account were not written down until centuries after the conversion of Ireland to Christianity...and then by Christian monks recording ancient sagas. From the evidence, we know that Samhain was a focal point of the yearly cycle, and that traditions of leaving out offerings of food and drink to comfort the wandering spirits had joined the bonfire custom. Also, the tradition of mumming--dressing in disguise and performing from home to home in exchange for food or drink, as well as pranking, perhaps a customary activity of the wandering spirits, or simply as a customary activity found throughout Europe--had become part of the occasion...Halloween was brought to North America with Irish and British colonists, although it was not widely observed until the large influx of European immigrants in the nineteenth century."
    ---Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Solomon H. Katz editor and chief [Thomson Gale:New York] 2003, Volume 2 (p. 167-9)
    [NOTE: this book contains far more information than can be paraphrased here. Your local public librarian will be happy to help you find a copy.]

    Traditional Halloween foods & customs: Ireland
    "Samhain. This ancient festival, the first day of winter, is traditionally kept on 1 November, which in the Christian calendar is the Feast of All Saints. The vigil of the feast is Halloween, the night when charms and incantations were powerful, when people looked into the future, and when feasting and merriment were ordained. Up to recent time this was a day of abstinence, when according to church ruling no flesh meat was allowed. Colcannon, apple cake and barm brack, as well as apples and nuts were part of the festive fare. Colcannon was cooked in a skillet pot which had a large round bottom, three little legs and two ear-like handles at the sides, and consisted of potatoes mashed and mixed with chopped kale or green cabbage and onions...Another favourite was champ, an Armagh name for a dish of mashed potatoes, sweet milk, and chopped chives or onions, eaten like colcannon by dipping each spoonful into the well of butter. It was also the custom that when the first of the new potatoes were dug they were made into champ. Boxty pancakes were another Halloween favourite. Grated raw potatoes were squeezed in a cloth, sieved, and mixed with baking powder and salt and a well-beaten egg. Sufficient sweet milk was added to make a pancake batter. These were served hot and well buttered and sprinkled with caster sugar. They could also be made into scones called farls and baked on a griddle...Apple potato cake or fadge was a popular dish in the north-east of the country, made with a potato cake mixture of freshly boiled potatoes, a little salt, melted butter and flour to bind. The mixture was divided into two, and rolled into rounds. Layers of sliced apples were laid on the base of the fadge; then the lid of pastry was placed on top. It was put down to cook in a pot-oven on a bed of red-hot turf. When the fadge was almost ready it was sliced round the sides, the top turned back and the apples liberally sprinkled with brown sugar and a good knob of butter. The fadge was then returnd to the oven until the sugar and butter melted to form a sauce. A ring was inserted in the cake and it was believed that whoever got the rind would be married before the year was out. It was traditional that cattle could be taken in or housed in the byres and that all potatoes should be dug and all oats stacked by Halloween. Blackberries should not be picked or apples taken from the tree because it was said that puca spat on them on the night after Samhain. In the Glens of Antrim they said the devil shook his club at these fruits and shook his blanket at them. In north Leinster and parts of Ulster the old tradition of leaving food out for the fairies on Halloween was still observed in living memory. A plate of champ, complete with spoon, was set at the foot of the nearest fairy thorn (hawthorn or whitethorn) or at the gate entrance to a field on both Halloween and All Souls' Night, 2 November. This was considered by some a ritual for the dead, by others an offering to the fairies. The association between food and the fairies is marked and this is especillay true of the festivals, most of which had their origin in pre-Christian times. An informant in Layde, Co Antrim, describes how here grandmother used to make thick oaten cakes with a hold in the centre on Halloween. A string was threaded through the hole and any child who came in had an oaten cake tied around her neck...This ancient festival is still celebrated not only at home but in parts of Britain and all over the New England states of America. In town and country children still carry on the age-old custom of disguising themselves in masks and costumes and going from house to house collecting apples and nuts for the halloween party...After the traditional supper of colcannon young people played games involving ducking for apples in a barrel or basin of water, or allowing the peel of an apple to fall on the ground in the belief that it would shosw the initial letter of a sweetheart's name. A favourite pastime was for courting couples to sit around the fire telling stories and roasting nuts...Almost all games and practices on this night had to do with love and courtship: the ring hidden in the colcannon or barm brack denoting marriage, or more disappointingly, the thimble foretelling spinsterhood. In many parts of the country the first and last spoonfuls of colcannon were put into the girl's stocking, which was then hung from a nail in the door in the belief that her future husband would be the first to enter. Still another custom was for a girl to go blindfolded into the night to pull a head of cabbage. The size and shape of the root denoted the size and shape of her future spouse...Another custom was to cut nine stalks of yarrow with a black handled knife. Part of the spell decreed that the girl must not speak from the moment she began to eat her colcannon until all the family had gone to bed...Still another charm was for a girl to eat an apple before a mirror at midnight while combing her hair. Her future husband would look over her right shoulder as the clock struck twelve. The Halloween supper at home was always the most enjoyable feast of the year. On 31 October 1831, Amhlaoibh O Suilleabhain noted in his diary: A fine dry, cloudy day. I spent the night pleasantly eating apples, burning nuts, drinking tea and eating apple pie."
    ---Land of Milk and Honey: The Story of Traditional Irish Food and Drink, Brid Mahon [Merdier Press:Boulder CO] 1998 (p. 138-141)

    Traditional Halloween foods: United States
    "Halloween may be the only American holiday that is not associated with a particular feast of recipe. Nineteenth-century Irish immigrants brough the October 31 celebration to the United States. On that night it was traditional to give soul cakes to visitors to their households in return for promises to say prayers on behalf of dead relatives. They also put lanterns made from vegetables in the windows to welcome ghosts and wantering souls...Carved pumpkin jack-o'lanterns are an integral part of Halloween festivities, but they are seldom eaten...Smaller species of cheese pumpkin, pie pumpkin, or sweet pumpkin, which have sweeter, less watery flesh, are used for making pies...Some people save the seeds to dry, roast, and salt as a snack...American harvest festivals called play parties were a precursor to the modern Halloween. In the mid-nineteenth century, Snap Apple Night or Nut Crack Night parties were celebrated in some regions of the United States with games, such as dunking for apples...In the late nineteenth cnetury, middle-class Americans looking toward their Celtic heritage rediscovered (and reinvented) Halloween customs and made them respectable. Beginning in the 1870s, articles on Halloween appeared in periodicals that encouraged a new, more uniformly celebrated Victorian fete. By the twentieth century, Halloween parties for both children and adults had become a common way to mark the day...Candies made in the shape of corn kernels and pumpkins commemorated the harvest season. The Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia was the first to commerically produce candy corn in the 1880s."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford Univeristy Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 585-6)

    Pumpkins & turnips: Jack-O'-Lanterns
    "There are a host of stories to explain the origin of the Halloween Jack-o-lantern. The Irish claim it first, and tell the tale of Jack, a man so miserly that he once tricked the Devil into turning himself into a sixpence, then snapped the money into his pocket and made the Devil promise not to come for him for a whole year. Jack lived another stingy and spiteful year, and when the Devil came back for him, Jack tricked him into climbing up a tree to pick a big, beautiful apple from a high branch. Jack quickly carved the sign of the cross in the trunk of the tree so the Devil couldn't climb down, and made him promise not to come for Jack for 10 years. When Jack died soon after, he went up to Heaven, but Saint Peter denied him entrance because of his stingy nature. Jack tried Hell, but was surprised to find that the Devil wouldn't let him in. The Devil had to keep his promise, and besides, he wasn't very fond of Jack anyway. For punishment, the nasty old man was sentenced to walk the earth forever with only a lantern made from a carved turnip and one coal for Hell to guide him. When the Irish immigrants arrived in America, they delighted in the size and carving potential of the native pumpkin. The fat orange harvest vegetable was quickly substituted for the turnip, and the carved-out snaggle-toothed Halloween jack-o'lantern was born."
    ---Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 78)

    "The vegetable most associated with Halloween...the jack-o'-lantern, which also had its roots in British folklore. Jack was a perennial trickster of folktales, who offended not only God but also the devil with his many pranks and transgressions. Upon his death, he was denied entrance into both heaven and hell, though the devil grudgingly tossed him a fiery coal, which Jack caught in a hollowed turnip and which would light his night-walk on hearth until Judgement Day...The Oxford English Dictionary gives a date of 1663 for its first printed record of the phrase "jack-with-the-lantern," and 1704 , "Jack of lanthorns," both referring to a night watchman...the jack-o-lantern is definately associated by 1817 with spooky pranks--but not explicity with Halloween or hollowed turnips. Although ever modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chroniclers of British holidays and folk customs makes any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween....The Oxford English Dictionary provides no clue as to when the Halloween association began; it credits the United States as the primary source of the modern definition of the jack-o'lantern, followed by England and Ireland, but without dates or citations."
    ---Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David J. Skal [Bloomsbury:New York] 2002 (p. 31-2)

    Apples
    "In old England, apples and nuts were seen as powerful prognosticators. Celtic folk used them in their Halloween divination games for centuries, and there were some Scottish, Irish and British men and women--people from the northern parts of England--still celebrating All Hallows with apples and nuts throughout the heyday of Guy Fawkes...The night of October 31 was known in parts of the British Isles ad "Snap Apple Night"...the name came from an old game played by tying the player's hands behind his back and having him try to bite an apple suspended from a string...Like their English ancestors before them, Americans used apple dunking to find who will marry first. Whoever could snag an apple from a big bucket filled with water, hands tied behind the back, would be wed soonest."
    ---Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 56)

    "The Romans brought their own pagan mythology and celbration to Britain, including the November 1 harvest festival of Pomona, goddess of the orchards, and the masked revels of Saturnalia, the winter solstice. Pomona's association with the apple no doubt fostered the fruit's later prominence in Halloween games and festivities."
    ---Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David J. Skal [Bloomsbury:New York] 2002 (p. 21-2)

    Cake
    "People often made cake offerings to dieties to remove their evil influence. They also offered cake to spirits of the dead, believing that the cakes would nourish them during their long journey to the otherworld. One of the best-known examples of cakes for the dead are soul cakes, made on 28 October, in connection with All Souls' Day. For many pagan peoples--the early Celts, for instance--this was the day the dead got up and walked around on earth, and unless they were fed, people believed, the spirits might harm the living. In some areas of Germany, soul cakes are black in color, suggesting death. The Ainu people of Germany and Austria left cakes on graves, ad the ancient Egyptians placed them inside tombs. Throughout Europe, people offered soul cakes to the dead to nourish them on their journey to the otherworld, or used cakes as offerings during funeral rights and feasts. Eating cakes on All Souls' Day became common practice. In Belgium, people believed that on this day, one soul was released from purgatory for every cake consumed." ---Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 53-4)

    Nuts
    "Nuts have been used for magic since Roman times. Some Scottish and northern English people believed nuts were such powerful sorcerers that they called their October 31st celebration "Nut Crack Night"...Chestnuts and walnuts, both plentiful at harvesttime, were popular in early divination games. The most well-known game goet as follows: two nuts are named, each for a potential lover, and put on a grate in the fire. She who wants to know the future watches and waits. If a nut burns true and steady, it indicates the lover will have a faithful nature; if it pops in the heat, it indicates the man is not to be trusted."
    ---Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 56-7)

    Kale
    "In Scotland, young people went blindfolded into the garden to pull kale stalks; later, before the crackling fireplace, the plants would be "read" for revealing signs of the future wife or husband--short and stunted, tall and healthy, withered and old, and so on. The amount of earth clinging to the root was believed to indicate the amount of dowry or fortune the player could expect from a mate. The stalks were then hung above the door in a row, and each subsequent Halloween visitor was assigned the identity of a vegetable-spouse in turn. Cabbages and leeks were similarly used."
    ---Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David J. Skal [Bloomsbury:New York] 2002 (p. 29)

    TRICK-OR-TREAT

    Origin & symbolism
    "The custom of begging for food from house to house on Halloween came for the old Catholic soul-sale custom. Once charitable in nature, "souling" took a popular turn as it evolved over the years. Irish Halloween begging always involved a masquerade... but who did the begging and what they were after varied from region to region. In Ireland's County Cork, a mummers' procession marked All Hallows...Prosperity was promised to those who gave food, drink or money to the revelers...This custom of taking a masquerade from house to house and asking for food or money was one practiced in America on Guy Fawkes Day, and for some years even on Thanksgiving. The Irish Halloween masquerade proved so popular it eventually evolved into 20th-century American trick-or-treating."
    ---Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 67, 71)

    American evolution
    "Trick or treating grew popular between 1920 and 1950, probably finding its first practices in the wealthier areas of the East and slowly spreading to remote areas of the West and South. Reports of trick-or-treaters exist in Wellesley, Massachusetts, as early as the late 1920s, but not until the 40s in North Carolina, Florida and Texas. By the 1950s, every child in America had heard about the custom...The origins of Halloween trick or treating are very old indeed. A early American antecedent was Guy Fawkes Day. The celebration, popular in parts of the east during the 17th and 18th centuries, died out in most communities around the American Revolution. Thanksgiving, however, was being celebrating with some regularity at that time, and it became a Thanksgiving custom for children to dress up and beg from house to house on the last Thursday in November. At first the poorer children would dress in cast-off ragged clothes and beg "something for Thanksgiving" from their wealthier neighbors. Soon all kinds of children got involved, and the custom grew more popular and costumes more elaborate. The Thanksgiving masquerade existed as late as the 1930s, then suddenly vanished, and Halloween costumes and parades began to gain national popularity...As for begging, the notion of receiving gifts of candy on Halloween owed something to the public parties of the previous decades."
    ---Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 142-3)

    "Sometime in the middle of the 1930s, enterprising householders, fed up with soaped windows and worse, began experimenting with a home-based variation on the old protection racket practiced between shopkeepers and Thanksgiving ragamuffins. Doris Hudson Moss, writing for American Home in 1939, told of her success, begun several years earlier, of hosting a Halloween open house for neighborhood children...The American Home article is significant because it is apparently the first time the expression "trick or treat" is used in a mass-circulation periodical in the United States...It is probably that trick-or-treating had its immediate origins in thy myriad of organized celebrations mounted by schools and civic groups across the country specifically to curb vandalism...It is the postwar years that are generally regarded as the glorious heyday of trick-or-treating. Like the consumer economy, Halloween itself grew by leaps and bounds. Major candy companies like Curtiss and Brach, no longer constrained by sugar rationing, launched national advertising campaigns specifically aimed at Halloween. If trick-or-treating had previously been a localized, hit-or-miss phenomenon, it was now a national duty."
    ---Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David J. Skal [Bloomsbury:New York] 2002 (p. 52-5)

    Baby Boomer generation
    We Boomer children fondly remember Trick-or-Treating for Halloween. Most of us also collected money, usually pennies, for
    Unicef in cardboard containers shaped like milk cartons handed out in school. It was a neighborhood event and what we feared most were cold, rainy nights when mom insisted we wear coats over our costumes. Every neighborhood had one house that did not participate. That was part of the lore. The after ritual was just as fun as the actual candy gathering. Dumping our "loot" on the kitchen table to count, sort, and plan what to eat. Mom or Dad examined our candy, sifting out items they deemed unclean. They also accepted "donations" of items we didn't like. Most of us Trick-or-Treated until about Junior High. You knew it was time to stop when the neighbors asked "Aren't you a little old for this?" Then, with a smile, they dumped whatever they had left into our sacks & snapped off the porch light.

    [1950: trick-or-treat for UNICEF]
    "UNICEF and Halloween have long been associated. A Presbyterian minister, Clyde Allison, and his wife, Mary Emma, started Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF in 1950, in Bridesburg, Pennsylvania. The original idea was to make Halloween more meaningful for children by collecting a ‘treat’ for themselves, as well as one for children in other countries. The original benefactors were to be children in post-war Europe who were in need of basics like shoes and soap.... By 31 October 1950, the Allisons had decided that UNICEF would be a worthy recipient of this act of giving. On that Halloween, Mary Emma and her children, along with friends and congregants from their church, went door to door asking for donations for UNICEF. The original campaign raised $17, collected in decorated milk cartons and then sent to children overseas. A few years later, churches and schools adopted the practice and the US Committee for UNICEF (now known as the US Fund for UNICEF) institutionalized what has become a Halloween tradition."
    ---
    UNICEF history web.
    UNICEF timeline. [1962: community concerns]
    "Dear Lynn: Each Halloween I have the same problem. I greatly enjoy seeing the neighborhood children in their costumes and having them come by, especially now that our own children are grown and our grandchildren live in other cities. But my wife--a lovely, most practical person--will give only one miniature candy bar to each child. She says they come for fun, not candy, and that in our high-income neighborhood they waste most of the candy they get. She may be right, but she makes me feel like a cheap heel. The kids thank us politely, but I notice how they look at the single piece we give them and at the pile left on thd plate. I get painfully embarrassed. What can I do?--Grandpa.

    "If 'trick or treat' is a nuisance to some people let us have rules. let's talk to the children and ask if they will cooperate. If the folks who welcome the little 'beggars' will turn on their porch lights or put a jack-o-lantern in the window, perhaps we can control the custom for the enjoyment of all. The question is who will set the 'one night' for 'trick or treat' collecting and for those older children who prefer to collect unselfishly for UNICEF? Should the mayor make a proclamation? Should it be set locally by civic organizations" I don't know the answer, but let's do something constructive."
    ---"Voice of the People," Florence M. Carr, Chicago Daily Times, October 31, 1962 (p. 20)

    "I disagree with the woman in today's Voice of the People who dislikes the 'trick or treat' Halloween custom of children. I think that msot people who have kids like to see them have fun. It's not the little candy or whatever else they collect in their shopping bags that they care about, but the fun they have and meeting different kinds of people. It's not what we give, but the spirit of giving."
    ---"Letter to the Editor," Mrs. H. T. Robinson, Chicago Daily Tribune, October 31, 1962 (p. 20)

    "More than 3,000,000 American youngsters will say 'Trick or Treat for UNICEF' on Wednesday to help the sick and hungry children of the world. The United Nation Children's Fund will benefit from the door-to-door collections across the country by youngsters in Halloween costumes. The agency's initials stand for United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund...In New York today, Mayor Wagner proclaimed Wednesday UNICEF Day. Elsewhere in the nation torchlight parades, costume and poster contests and penny-counting parties are being planned. Mayor Wagner said that all youngsters who want to collect for UNICEF must carry the black and orange symbol of a mother and child. A New York City license must be affixed to the collection container. The Halloween program started in 1950, when a Sunday school class in Pennsylvania collected $36 in pennies for UNICEF. Since then more than $9.000,000 has been donated...A UNICEF spokesman said a penny could buy vaccine to protect a youngster from tuberculosis. For 2 cents a hungry child can be supplied with a daily cup of milk for 10 days, and for 3 cents penicillin can be bought to cure a child of yaws, a crippling tropical disease."
    ---"'Trick or Treat' Again Will Aid The World's Needy Youngsters," New York Times, October 30, 1962 (p. 11)

    [1972: Trick or treat banned to protect children]
    "The children and grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Ollamon H. Moore of Chicago returned from their Halloween trick-or-treating last year with a whole lot of goodies. And some not-so-goodies. When the Moores's son...bit into an apple, a concealed pin stabbed into the roof of his mouth. A ...granddaughter slashed her hands on razor blades hidden inside an apple. And another granddaugher who ate poisoned treats had to be rushed to the hospital to have her stomach pumped...Stories like these are changing Halloween in dozens of communities across ths country. Some places are flatly banning trick-or-treating, others are sharply restricting the hours in which it's permitted, and still others are beefing up police and other secruity forces hoping to discourage child-haters. The true extent of the danger to children isn't known. Frequently, children who are injured don't require hospitalization, and parents may not always complain to popice. In some cases, investigators have found reports of adulterated treats to be false--invented by children hoping to draw attention to themselves. Nonetheless, enough verified or believable cases of mayem at Halloween have cropped up to make a number of towns ban door-to-door solicitation...'It's pretty difficult to substantiate the souces of doctored candy...Children can't remember where they got things.;...Like most places that have banned or discouraged trick-or-treating...[towns and counties] are sponsoring a series of parties at parks and recreational centers...Not everyone is happy about the ban on trick-or-treating...'I'm a little disappointed. I want my three children to grow up trusting people...It's just another thing else taken away from the children.'"
    ---"Many Towns Institute Trick-or-Treating Ban to Protect Children," William S. Hieronymus Jr., Wall Street Journal, October 27, 1972 (p. 1)

    [21st century]
    "Old fashioned" Halloween trick-or-treating is rare. Cautious parents, social and government organizations host invitation-only theme parties.

    HALLOWEEN CANDY

    Halloween candies of the 1900s
    "Candies for Hallowe'en. Every ounce just as good as it tastes! We make these candies in our own spotless candy kitchen and when we tell you that they are pure, wholesome, and good to eat, we know what we are talking about. A few of to-day's specials: Nut Kisses-- Mexican, vanilla and strawberry, lb...25 cents; Buttercups--all flavors, nut and cream centers, lb...25 cents; Meadowbrook Caramels-- our famious full cream caramels, vanilla, vanilla English walnut, vanilla filbert, maple...lb...25 cents; Waldorf Chocolates and Bonbon or all Chocolates, lb...25 cents; Hallowe'en Favords--each 5 cents to 50 cents [no description]."
    ---display ad, Siegle Cooper Company NYC, New York Times, October 31, 1906 (p. 5)

    Halloween candies of the 1920s
    "There was a profusion, even a confusion, of candies in orange and black. There were orange gumdrops, orange jelly beans, orange buttercups, and chips and hard candies. And there were black (licorice) gumdrops and jelly beans and buttons and all possible devices that were ever seen in black candies...There were lovely and dainty opera sticks in both orange and black, tied often with ribbon and for the center of some of the endless arrangement of these things in Halloween candy boxes--witch and black cat decorations on them--and ultimately tied with wonderful pompons of black...ribbon."
    ---"Halloween Fal-Lalls and Fare," Jane Eddingon, Chicago Daily Tribune, October 23, 1921 (p. E6)

    Halloween candies of the 1950s
    An an placed in the Washington Post October 28, 1951 (p. M7) lists these items under the heading "Trick or Treat Candies":
    Goeltiz Candy Corn, Brachs Harvest Jelly Beans, Brach's Harvest Panned Mix, Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's Miniatures, Butter Cream Pumpkins (pound bulk), Fleers Double Bubble Gum, Pure Sugar Apples, Jordan Almonds, Goetzes Caramel Creams, Reed's Buterscotch Squares, Midgee Tootsie Rolls, Starlight Kisses, Roasted Peanuts in Shell, Tootsie Roll Handi Pak, Chocolate Bridge Mixture, Spiced Jelly Drops, Chocolate Nonpareils, and Fireside Marshmallows.

    Halloween candies of the 1960s
    "Never before, it seems to us, have the food stores been stocked with so many varieties and such novel packages of candies, cookies and chewing gum, and other goodies designed to provide you with simple loot for those little trick-or-treaters who soon will be making their Halloween expeditions. A complete listing would take more space than we have. However, two-novelties especially caught our fancy. One is a cellophane bag filled with 14 miniature boxes of plump Sun-Maid Raisin. Altho these, we think, should really delight the junior set, they also are ideal as snacks at any time of the year, for young or old. The other item is a new package of TV Time Popcorn containing a unique plastic 'feed bag'--like an apron with a big pocket across the front--which can be worn around a youngster's necks. The feed bag naturally is intended to hold fistfuls of popcorn, but it also can be used by any child on trick-or-treat rounds to gather in other goodies. Besides the feedbag, the TV Time Popcorn carton holds two packs of corn grains, oil, and salt, enough to each to make three quarts of popcorn."
    ---"'Round the Food Stores: For a Look at the Latest Ideas," Lois Baker, Chicago Daily Tribune, October 26, 1962 (p. B8)

    Ads published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Washington Post & Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25-31, 1962 confirm:

    Baby Ruth
    Bazooka bubble gum
    Beechnut gum
    Bit-O-Honey
    Butterfingers
    Candy Cigarettes
    Candy Corn
    Candy Kisses
    Caramels
    Chocolate Covered Peppermints
    Chuckles
    Chunky
    Cracker Jack
    Cutie Face suckers (lollipops)
    Forever Yours
    Fruit drops
    Hershey Bars: milk choclate, almonds
    Huck Fins
    Jelly Beans
    Junior Mints
    Life Savers
    M&Ms…plain, peanut, almond
    M&Ms Chocolate Wafer Bar
    M&Ms Fruit Chews
    Mason Candies
    Milky Way
    Mint Juleps (chewy)
    "Money bags" of wafers
    Nestle Bars: milk chocolate, almond
    Oh Henry Bars
    Pal bubble gum
    Peanut butter kisses
    Polly Pops (fruit flavor)
    Popcorn balls
    Powerhouse bars
    Snickers
    3 Musketeers
    Taffy rolls
    Tootsie Roll Pops
    Tootsie Rolls miniatures
    Whoppers
    Wrigley gum

    Where does candy corn fit in?
    The earliest references we find to candy corn (aka chicken feed) credit Goelitz (now the Jelly Belly company) for introducing this confection the American public. No particular connection with Halloween or fall season. Professional confectionery formulae for novelty
    Indian Corn appear a decade earlier.

    "1898. Goelitz Confectionery Company begins making candy corn or "chicken feed." They continue to make this Halloween favorite longer than any other company."
    ---Candy: The Sweet History, Beth Kimmerle [Collectors Press:Portland OR] 2003 (p. 32)

    Certainly there is a connection between corn and fall and harvest time. Some people decorated their houses with cornstalks around Halloween time. Our survey of historic American newspapers confirms candy corn was special to many folks, but not necessarily connected with Halloween. We found ads published throughout the year. For example:

    "Pre Holiday Sale...Goelitz Candy Corn, pound cello bag, 25 cents. Butter cream candy in three colors and shaped like a real corn kernel. Worth crowing about."
    ---advertisement, Washington Post, July 1, 1951 (p. M7)
    [NOTE: This holiday promotion targets Independence Day!]

    "When a person starts talking about the good old days, it is said to be sure sign of age creeping up. Maybe I am already reverting to my second childhood because the other day I had a sudden longing for chicken-feed corn and jelly beans and when I looked into my corner store none was to be found..."
    ---"Childhood Memories of Good Old Home-Made Fudge, Penny Candies," Langston Hughes, The Chicago Defender, December 18, 1948 (p. 6)

    Candy corn, like many other candies we enjoy at Halloween, was promoted as treats for Halloween by candy companies after WWII. Candy corn might have been especially popular because it was also a seasonal (fall) confection. Popcorn balls and candied apples are other seasonal (fall) treats conventinetly transitioned to Halloween. Additional notes here.

    Indian corn
    Professional confectioners crafted many novetly items in the last decades of the 19th century. Advances in candy making equipment and processes made these items possible. Candy corn (aka chicken scratch) might possibly have been inspired by this creative confection.

    [1883]
    "Imitation Indian Corn

    A very good imitaiton of real Indian corn is made as follows: Boil the sugar as for other drops and with the usual amount of cream of tartar; flavor and color the boil yellow; pull half of it and case it over with the plain sugar; loosen the screws in a pair of thumb rollers a little and pass the boil through; cut the pieces about the length of the corn pod, and when cold fold them over loosely in shape."
    ---Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners' Trade, J. D. Hounihan [self published:Staunton VA] 1883 (p. 117)
    [NOTE: This recipe replicates the entire cob of yellow corn; not the multilayered/colored candy corn kernels we know today.]

    Historic American Halloween party menus
    If you would like recipes for any of items listed below, let us know. Happy to supply!

    [1901]
    "Halloween Party

    While the dictionary definition of Halloween is rather different than the modern small boy's interpretation of it would indicate, yet we say with all earnestness, give the boys a good time occasionally, and why not on Halloween?...Boys will be far less apt to carry off the clothes-posts, unhinge the gates, and make night hideous, if you give them a part in keeping with the occasion--a party where tin horns from the first course at the dinner-table--where colored paper, napkins, folded to represent the "jack-be-nimble" and "jack-be-quicks," "toads," "monkeys," and "parrots"; where paper caps adorn the head and where jack-lanterns adorn the room...

    Refreshments Bouillon, de Jolly Boys, Celery, Kindergarten Crackers, Turtle Sandwiches, Little Pigs in Blankets, Orange Jelly, Olives a la Natural History, Sugar Off, with maple syrup, Nut Cartoons, lemonade."
    ---The Blue Ribbon Cook Book, Annie R. Gregory [Monarch Book Company:Chicago IL] 1901 (p. 31)

    [1905]
    "Hallowe'en Box Cake

    The newest fashion in Hallowe'en supper-table decoration is a cake made of white pasteboard boxes, in shape like pieces of pie, which fit together and give the appearance of a large cake. Each one of the boxes is covered with a white paper which resembles frosting. At the close of the feast the pieces are distributed, each box containing some little souvenier sutiable to Hallowe'en. One box, of course, contains a ring, another a thimble, a third a piece of silver, a fourth a mitten, a fifth a fool's cap, and so on. Much fun is created as the boxes are opened, and the person who secures the ring is heartily congratulated. The unlucky individual who gets the fool's cap must wear it for the evening." (P. 86)

    "Hallowe'en Party
    All formality must be dispensed with on Hallowe'en. Not only will quaint customs and mythic tricks be in order, but the decorations and refreshments, and even the place of meeting, must be as strange and mystifying as possible. For the country or suburban home a roomy barn is decidedly the best accomodation that can be provided. If this is not practicable, a large attic, running the entire length of the house, is the next choice; but if this also is denied the ambitious hostess, let the kitchen be the place of meeting and of mystery, with the dining-room, cleared of its usual furniture and decorated suitably for the occasion, reserved for the refreshments. The light should be supplied only by Jack-o'-lanterns hung here and there about the kitchen, with candles in the dining-room.The decorations need not be expensive to be charming, no matter how large the room. Large vases of ferns and chrysanthemums and umbrella stands of fluffy grasses will be desirable; but if these cannot be readily obtained, quantities of gayly tinted autumn leaves will be quite as appropriate. Festoons of nuts, bunches of wheat or oats, and strings of cranberries may also help to brighten the wall decorations, and the nuts and cranberries will be useful in many odd arrangements for ornamenting the refreshment table. Have the table long enough (even if it must be extended with boards the whole length of the barn or attic) to accommodated all the guests at once. Arrange huge platters of gingerbread at each corner, with dishes of plain candies and nuts here and there, and pyramids of fruit that will be quickly demolished when the guests are grouped about the table. No formal waiting will be desirable. (p. 88-9)

    Hallowe'en Suggestions
    "Browning nuts, popping corn, roasting apples, and toasting marshmallows will add a great deal to the pleasure of the evening. The dining table should be draped in pale green crepe paper, the lights above being shrouded in gorgeous orange. Pumpkins of various sizes should be scooped and scraped to a hollow shell and, lined with wax paper and filled with good things to eat, should be placed in the centre of the table. Lighted candles and quaint oriental lanterns will add greatly to the decorations." (P. 90)
    ---Bright Ideas for Entertaining, Mrs. Herbert Linscott [George W. Jacobs:Philadelphia] 9th edition, 1905

    [1911]
    "Hallowe'en Spreads

    Menu No. I: Ganser Salad, Brown Bread Sandwiches, Raised Loaf Cake, Pricilla Popped Corn, Hot Coffee.
    Menu No. II: Rob's Rarebit, Zephyrettes, Sultana Fudge, German Punch
    Menu No. III: Hamlin Ham Timbales, Ribbon Sandwiches, Nut Ginger Cookies, Peneuche, Cider" ---Catering for Special Occasions with Menus & Recipes, Fannie Merritt Farmer [David McKay:Philadelphia] 1911 (p. 129-141)

    [1914]
    "Never were Halloween Decorations so Gay as This Year--Some Delicious Candy Recipes for the Festival

    Each year there are so many new decorations for Halloween and so many good old ones revived that the only shame is that Halloween doesn't last for a week. And surely never before were there such attractive Halloween decorations as there are this year...For a centrepiece on the table on which the refreshments are placed at a children's Halloween party are set forth, nothing is more interesting than a huge paper pumpkin, with green leaves and a greed stem. After the pumpkin and leaves are made, they can be varnished to make them stiff. A little doll, dressed in yellow crepe paper, is seated on the top of the pumpkin and it is drawn by half a dozen little gray mice, that can be bought at any toy or favor store. Each piece has a piece of yellow ribbon tied about its neck, with the other end in the hand of the doll Cinderella...Another Halloween idea that is good is a big Japanese paper parasol covered with yellow crepe paper, with two eyes, a nose and a mouth cut out of black paper, and touched up with white paint. These are fastened on the outside of the parasol, the nose over the tip, and the effect is delightful. Small gummed seals that can be used for decorative purposes come cut out and sold in packages. There are owls and witches, pumpkins, imps, and cats. An effective but easily made place card is a small white card with a seal pasted in one corner or at one end."
    ---"What Every Woman Wants to Know," The New York Times, October 25, 1914 (p. X5)

    [1932]
    "Hallowe'en Parties

    The colors of Harvest time make Hallowe'en party decorations the gayest of all the year. Color and the mystery of benevolent witchcraft are a great help to the gayety of such a party and should set the pace. Once of the most successful decorations for a Hallowe'en party I ever used was a large copper tray loaded with fruit. The tray was oval. In the center was a small pumpkin surrounded with apples, oranges, pears and clusters of green and purple grapes. The grapes trailed gracefully over the sides. A decoration of this sort arranged ona table or sideboard and flanked by 8 or 10 candles of orange color suggests the opulence of harvest. Candle light is so appropriate for Hallowe'en it is a good idea to have the rooms lighted entirely this way with orange candles in sticks everywhere. Another attractive lighting arrangement is orange colored paper lantersn. Paint Jack O'Lantern faces on the lanterns with black India Ink. A large pumpkin with eyes, nose and mouth cut out and burning candle should occupy a prominent place in the room. Of course, witches, black cats and skeletons should b purchased and hung about the room. A successful table decoration is made from oranges. Cut the tops from the oranges, scoop out the pulp with a teaspoon. Cut Jack O'Lantern faces in them. Place a tiny candle holder and candle in the lanterns. The holders and tapers used form birthday cakes are excellent. Marigolds or orange and yellow button chyrsanthemums are the flowers to use for the supper table. Sprays of orange Japanese Lantern flowers are beautiful and just the color for a Hallowe'en party. Now for the menus. There is as much orange in the mens as possible, so that the Hallowe'en color scheme may be carried out.
    Menu No. 1 Glorfied Club Sandwiches, Spiced Pears, Olives. Mince or Pumpkin Pie, Coffee, Sugared Nuts, Hallowee'en Candies
    Menu No. 2 Shrimp Wiggle, Celery Curls, Mixed Sweet Pickles, Orange Cream in Orange Baskets< Assprted Frosted Cakes, Coffee, Nuts and Cluster Raisins, Hallowee'en Candies
    Menu No. 3 Chicken or Oyster Patties, Sweet Pickled Gherkins, Cranberry Jelly, Ice Cream, Hallowe'en Orange Cake, Salted Almonds, Candied Ginger, Candies, Coffee
    Menu No. 4 Chicken Bouillon with Whipped Cream, Cheese Crackers, Crab Salad, Hot Buttered Rolls, Dill Pickles, Orange Sherbet, Assorted Frosted Cakes, Candy, Coffee, Nuts."
    ---Bamberger's Cook For the Busy Woman, Mabel Claire [Greenberg:New York] 1932 (p. 244-249)
    [NOTES: (1) This book was published under several names in partnership with department stores (Macy's, etc.) (2) Mabel Claire was an accomplished artist, hence her attention to color schemes in her menus.]

    "A Halloween Ghost Party
    Everyone loves a ghost party, whether he is fourteen or ninety. The invitations may be decorated with skull and crossbones and instruct the guests to come in ghostly garb. Have the room darkened, and as they enter the guests should be greeted with a ghostly handclasp; a wet glove filled with sand gives the desired effect. On the hearth bubbles a witch's cauldron (made from a cooking pot), stirred by a crone who sings the incantation from Macbeth as she tosses in toy snakes, frogs, and so forth. She also draws out fortunes for the curious. The bugget supper table for a ghost party may be covered with a black paper cloth on which white ghosts are pasted. The center peice might be a witch's cauldron (a black pot with a grinning face chalked on one side), filled with tiny dangling ghosts made from pipe cleaners, which act as favors. White tapers stuck in black bottles furnish the only light.

    A Hallowe'en Midnight Supper: Hot Ham Shortcakes with Cheese Sauce, Dill Pickle Sticks, Celery Curls, Radishes, Pumpkin-face Tarts, Ice-cold Coca-Cola, Chicken Corn (candy), Nuts, Apples on a Stick."
    ---When You Entertain: What To Do, And How, Ida Bailey Allen [Coca-Cola Company:Atlanta GA] 1932 (p. 94-5)

    [1937]
    "Hallowe'en Suppers

    Hallowee'en Salad
    Cream Cheese Sanwiches
    Nuts, Apples, Taffy
    Orange-filled Cup Cakes, Sweet Cider

    Goblin-faced Meat Pies (faced slashed in crust)
    Julienne Carrots
    Orange Ice in Orange Cups
    Chocolate Cookies, Ginger Ale."
    ---America's Cook Book, The Home Institute of the New York Herald Tribune [Charles Scribner's Sons:New York] 1937 (p. 861)

    [1942]
    "Hallowe'en Party

    Write your Hallowe'en invitations on cutouts of black cats, cauldrons, scarecrows, pumpkins or witches. Use black or orange paper and write the invitation in the form of a jingle or just a note. Room decorations are a simple matter for they can be as casual as you like. Spread a few sheaves of corn around the room or stand up some stalks of corn amid a profusion of gay autumn leaves. Orange or black candles or orange bulbs--just a few to create an eerie effect--can be used to provide the light. Large cutouts of black cats, witches, or pumpkins pinned to the walls around the room, brilliant orange, yellow, or red tablecloths of cotton or old sheets dyed in any of those colors enhance the them of the party. Playing games that originate from the character of the occasion, like pulling fortunes form the witches' cauldron or spirit rapping, are times fo interest for this type of party. And don't forget that traditional cider and doughnuts, orange and black candies, ice cream molds with a pumpkin, or made-with-honey pumpkin pie contribute much in a decorative way."
    ---Wartime Entertaining, Ethel X. Pator [Consolidated Book Publishers:Chicago] 1942 (p. 49)

    [1949]
    "Witches and hobgoblins have come to town, ready to appear at the children's Halloween parties. Never since before the war have the stores been so well stocked with paper masks, favors and other festive decorations in orange and black. bakeries ofer ginger-cookie owls and frosted cakes atop which the old lady rides her broom. She's also to be found molded in milk chocolate at some candy stores and, most wondrous of all, modeled in ice cream. Halloween means pumpkins with eyes, ears and noses cut out and a candle burning in the hollowed center...In the eyes of children, "homemade" surprises are just as enchanting as those bought at the store. They'll be delighted to find a marshmallow face floating in their cup of hot chocolate. Two dots of melted chocolate or frosting squeezed through a pastry tube make the eyes, one dot the nose and a line the mouth. Or, again, with a pastry tube, sketch a whiskered cat's face on an orange-frosted cake. Make popcorn balls, top them with crepe paper hats and give them frosting faces."
    ---"News of Food: Parties," New York Times, October 26, 1949 (p. 31)

    [1952]
    "Parties on Halloween are an old, old custom and one we especially like to observe. Children and grown-ups alike love the party-giving spirit of this old fateful night so let's plan a Halloween party today. Refreshments that emphasize the eerie atmosphere of the old traditions will delight the merrymakers. Witches Candle Cakes, flavored with mint chocolate wafers, are sure to triumph whether you serve them with ice cream, fruit or hot cocoa...Popcorn too should be in appearance at a Halloween party, as should apples."
    ---"Apples, Popcorn Still Liked by Halloween Party-Goers," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1952 (p. B4)

    [1956]
    "Halloween Refreshments

    (1) Cider and Doughnuts
    (2) Pigs in Blankets, Carrot Straws, Ripe Olives, Orange Sherbet, Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Butter Icing (Jack O'Lantern faces traced on icing with melted chocolate)."
    ---Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, revised and enlarged second edition [McGraw-Hill Book Company:New York] 1956 (p. 51)

    [1957]
    "Halloween night is an all-important knight for the small fry. Whether you're planning a large-scale party or merely treating the visiting spooks, a table of clever edibles, with decorations to fit the occasion, will make you a popular hostess. The eerie atmosphere can be created simply and inexpensively with impish orange candles. Take bright-colored oranges and draw faces, using crayon, soft pencil or black enamel...Another great for the pigtail crowd are Halloween Candy Apples....Of course, Halloween parties are not limited to the youngsters. it's the perfect time to start the fall entertaining season."
    ---"How to be popular on Halloween night," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 1957 (p. M36)

    [1963]
    "Halloween Party

    No other time of year provides a better opportunity fo rthe colorful decorations children love so well...Use Halloween paper plates and napkins. Fill small paper cups with assorted Halloween candy; set at each place. Let your child help make the invitations--orange jack-o-lanterns or round black cats, cut out of construction paper. Make costumes mandatory. Have a prizes for the best. Menu: Sloppy Joes, Halloween Cake (Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting, Decorated with Candy Corn, Ice Cream, Hot Cocoa."
    ---McCall's Cook Book [Random House:New York] 1963 (p. 634-5)

    [1964]
    "Halloween Party

    Bob for apples, carve a pumpkin, play spooky games...Menu: Witches' Cauldron Soup, Goblin Franks, Vegetable Relishes, Ice Cream Jack-O'-Lanterns, Milk Halloween Cookies."
    ---Betty Crocker's Parties for Children, zlois M. Freeman [Golden Press:New York] 1964 (p. 161)

    Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) [Mexico]
    Historians generally agree that modern Day of the Dead festivities are Christianized versions of ancient pagan celebrations. There appears to be some conflicting reports regarding exactly which festivity was morphed. The Aztecs recognized two gods of death. Mictecacihuatl was the darker of the two. His celebration was traditionally held in the Ninth month (August in our calendar). The other god was kinder and gentler; his celebration coincided more with today's dates.

    Ancient Aztec perspective on death
    "To the Aztec, cosmic balance and therefore life would not be possible without offering sacrificial blood to forces of life and fertility, such as the sun, rain, and the earth. Thus in Aztec myth, the gods sacrificed themselves for the newly created sun to move on its path...The sixteenth-century accounts written in Spanish and Nahuatl provide detailed descriptions of Aztec concepts of death and the afterlife...People who eventually succumbed to illness and old age went to Mictlan, the dark underworld presided by the skeletal god of death, Mictlantecuhtli, and his consort Mictlancihuatl. In preparation for this journey, the corpse was dressed in paper vestments, wrapped and tied in a cloth bundle, and then cremated, along with a dog to serve as a guide through the underworld. The path to Mictlan traversed a landscape fraught with dangers... With no exits, Mictlan was a place of no return. Aside from the dreary...realm of Mictlan, there was the afterworld of Tlalocan, the paradise of Tlaloc, the god of rain and water. A region of eternal spring, abundance, and wealth, this place was for those who died by lightning, drowning, or were afflicted by particular disease...Rather than being cremated, these individuals were buried whole with images of the mountain gods, being closely related to Tlaloc...For the Aztec, yearly ceremonies pertaining to the dead were performed during two consecutive twenty-day months, the first month for children, and the second for adults, with special focus on the cult of warrior souls. Although then occurring in the late summertime of August, many aspects of these ceremonies have continued in the fall Catholic celebrations of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Along with the ritual offering of food for the visiting dead, marigolds frequently play a major part in the contemporary celebrations, a flower specifically related to the dead in Aztec ritual."
    ---"Aztec Religion," MacMillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, Robert Kastenbaum editor [McMillan Reference:New York] 2003 (p. 52-53)

    Ancient Aztec celebrations of death
    "It was on the eighth month of August by our calendar that these [Ancient Aztec] people observed the ninth month of the year of twenty days, like all th rest. The festival celebrated at the beginning of this month was performed with great rejoicing. It was called Micialhuitontli, which is a diminutive and means Feast of the Little Dead. According to my information, it was the commemoration of innocent dead children, and that is why the diminutive was used. In the solemn ceremonies of this day offerings and sacrifices were made to honor and venerate these children. The second reason this feast was named in the diminutive is the same [as that] used for the previous feast. That is to say, it was a preparation or anticipation of the coming festivity, called the Great Feast of the Dead, when adults were to be remembered. There was another reason (and this is the main one), founded on omens and superstition. This feast fell on the eighth of August...and so these people feared the loss of their crops owing to frost at the beginning of August. Thus the natives prepared their offerings, oblations, and sacrifices for this feast and for that of the following month. I have already mentioned that the first reason for the name Feast of the Little Dead was due to the offerings made for deceased children. I wish to refer to something I have seen taken place on the Day of Allhallows and on the Day of the Faithful Departed. When I asked why offerings were made on the day of Allhallows, I was told that this was in honor of the children, it being an ancient custom which had survived. I inquired whether offerings were also made on the Day of the Faithful Departed, and the answer was, 'yes, in honor of adults.' I was sorry to hear these things because I saw clearly that the Feast of the Little Dead and [the feast] of the Adults were still being celebrated. On the first I saw people offering chocolate, candles, fowl, fruit, great quantities of seed, and food. On the next day I saw the same being done. Though this feast fell in August, I suspect that if it is an evil simulation (which I do not dare affirm) the pagan festival has been passed to the Feast of Allhallows in order to cover up the ancient ceremony...This main festivity of theirs lasted the entire month, until the beginning of the Great Feast of the Dead. On this day an enormous thick tree trunk was cut--the largest that the woods could produce. The bark was stripped off and smoothed. Once this had been done, it was brought and set up at the entrance of the city or town. Upon its arrival the priests came out of the temples with trumpets, singing and dancing. The common men appeared with conch shells, offerings, food, incense burners filled with copal, and other types of incense."
    ---"The Ninth Month of the Year," Book of the Gods and Rites and The Ancient Calendar, Fray Diego Duran [University of Oklahoma Press:Norman OK] 1971 (p. 441-443)
    [NOTE: Preh-Hispanic Cooking, Ana M. de Benitez offers that modern Day of the Dead was similar to the ancient Twelfth month celebration of Teotelco (p. 26).]

    The Catholic Church Connection
    "Early Spanish observers...remarked on the fabrication of idols from edible grains and their distribution as talismans or articles of communion...pre-Columbian practices were simply annexed to the festival of All Souls'; sometimes with a convivance of Franciscan friars who wished to encourage the rapid conversion of the indigenous population to Christianity...Writing in 1580, Father Diego de Duran was troubled by the way in which indigenous cults of the dead were transposed to All Saints' and All Souls'. He was particularly concerned that All Saints' had become a festival devoted to little children who had died, thereby emulating the pre-Christian feast of Miccailhiotontli...which had traditionally take place two months earlier. Mexican scholars disagree over the influence of these ancient festivals on the popular practice of Todos Santos...as the Day of the Dead is sometimes called. But an overemphasis on the continuities with the pre-Columbian past can easily elide the fact that there are also striking similarities between the rituals of the Day of the Dead and the early modern observance of All Souls' Day in Europe. Yellow flowers of mourning were common to both sixteenth-century Spain and Mexico...In the old Castilian province of Zamora...ofrendas and banquets were a customary aspect of funeral rites. IN Barcelona, food stands routinely sold seasonal sweets called panellets del morts or All Saints Day. A variety of other cakes and sweets also formed part of the festive fare in Catalonia, Sardinia, Portugal, the Azores, and Haute-Saone in France, just as soul cakes were widely distributed in pre-Reformation Britain. What seems unique to the Mexican Todos Santos...was the widespread consumption of anthorpomorphic foods, or foods in the shape of humans. These included sugared skulls and figurines in the shape of humans. These included the sugared skulls and figurines that now attract international attention, and the pan de muertos, ' bread figures in the style of angels and human beings,' which took on 'a ritual character'...These kinds of foods---breads in human or animal form, in particular---were also made throughout the Iberian peninsula, though rarely for this holiday. There are grounds...for suggesting that the Mexican Day of the Dead was a complex mix of Mesoamerican and European influences, rather than a holiday onto which Christian observances were superficially imposed. In this respect, the Day of the Dead was not so very different from Halloween. Both shared a common European legacy as well as a dynamic fusion of pre-Christian and Christian belief. If this is the case, then their differences may be grounded not only in the peculiarities of that syntretism, but also in the ways in which the two holidays subsequently developed in the New Worlds."
    ---Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers [Oxford University Press:New York] 2002(p. 143-146)

    Modern observance
    "In Mexico, the festival of Dia de los Muertos embodies the greatest expression of both popular Catholicism and national cuisine. People construct alters in homes and graveyards throughout the country in order to feed the souls of the dead. Church officials recognize two holy days, November 1 (All Saints' Day)...and November 2 (All Souls' Day), in memory of the faithful departed. According to popular belief, the angelitos (deceased children) return on the evening of October 31 and the adults on the following night, although the dates in local celebrations vary all the way from October 28 to November 4. The feast for the dead originated as a form of ancestor worship, and the clergy were long reluctant to incorporate such pagan practices into the liturgical calendar. The festival held particularly strong associations with pre-Hispanic agrarian cults because it coincided with the maize harvest. Celebrations begin with the cleaning of the graves and the construction of the altar. At home this consist of a table or platform hung from the ceiling, covered with a white cloth and supporting an arch of palm fronds. The ofrenda are decorated with flowers, particularly the cempasuhil (marigold), the 'flower of the dead,'...The foods offered to the dead vary according to age and taste, but bread, water, and salt are always included. The bread is made from a special egg dough forming bones, and a skull in the center. Sugar candies with similar skull and calavera (skeleton) designs are also popular. In some areas of Oaxa and Michoacan, bakers shape the bread to resemble humans or animals. Offerings for children are miniature in size and relatively simple: breads, candies, fruits, and milk or soft drinks. The adult dead receive the finest foods, grown-up breads and sugar figures, as well as candied pumpkin and other sweets. More elaborate preparations include mole (turkey in a rich chili sauce) and tamales (corn dumplings stuffed with meat and chili and steamed in husks or banana leaves). The spirits also drink their favorite beverages, whether soft drinks, coffee, chocolate, beer or tequila...The Day of the Dead has recently become an important tourist attraction for the towns such as Mixquic, near Mexico City, and in the state of Oacaca."
    ---"Day of the Dead," Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Solomon H. Katz, editor in chief [Charles Scribner: New York] 2003, Volume 1 (p. 505-506)

    Food notes & recipes
    Pan de Muerto (literally, bread of the dead) is universal. Sugar skulls are also offered. Other foods depend upon what the person liked when he/she was alive. Notes here:

    "Every year the people of Mexico celebrate El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The holiday begins the evening of October 31 and continues throughout the day of November 2. It is a time when Mexican families remember the dead by mixing ancient beliefs and ritual of the early peoples of Mexico with the customs introduced by the Spanish Christians.Much preparation leads up to the holiday, which is actually a pleasant commemoration, rather than a solemn occasion, as one might think. It is a very social event, which begins by cleaning the gravesite and decorating with flowers and well as preparing special foods such as pan de muertos (bread of the dead), for their departed. Family members gather at the cemetery to picnic and remember the dead by telling stories about them."
    Food for the Ancestors (lesson plan)
    [NOTE: this site includes selected modernized recipes]

    "In our day throughout the country, but principally in the states of Puebla, Mexico, Oaxaca and Michoacan...the Day of the Dead is celebrated with catholic-pagan ceremonies...people, in happy contradiction with the sad day, place offerings of sweets, fruits and tasty dishes of all kinds to their dead relations...The Christian part is represented with figures and pictures placed on a kind of altar. The pagan part is prepared on a table or sideboard below the altar covered with a beautifully embroidered tablecloth...The dishes, jubs and pans are made of black glazed clay, as if for a special rite, because this ceramic ware is only used at this time. The glazed dishes are filled with turkey mole, pork or chicken, a dessert made of pumpkin, choke-cherries and guavas; tasted sesame seed is sprinkled over the dishes; a dessert called punche, which is a kind of pudding of ground maize of different colors, blue, purple and red; fruits of the season organves, limes, choke-cherries, jicamas and others; skulls made with sugar with the eye sockets stuffed with brightly coloured paper and decorated with sugar filigree with the name of the dead person on its forehead, bread in the shape of skulls and bones, colored with red and white sugar; bread made with eggs which is called hojaldras or bread of the dead, a kind of scone decorated with figures made of the same dough in the shape of tears of bones. Tamales and the dead person's favourite delicacies...are alos placed with the other offerings...It seems that both the ritual and the offerings are similar to those of the Aztec ceremonies which took place in the twelfth month of the Aztec calendar, called Teotelco. Teotelco was at about the same line of the year as our last days in Octover. On the eighteenth day the priests washed the feed of the god called Tlamatizicatl Titlacauan or Tezcatlipoca, and it was a day of great rejoicing."
    ---Pre-Hispanic Cooking, Ana M. de Benitez [Ediciones Euroamericanas:Mexico] 1974 (p. 24-29)
    [NOTE: Book includes recipe for Bread of the Dead.]


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    2005
    14 July 2013