With Halloween so near, my thoughts naturally turn to candy. Now that my kids are grown, I now longer have access to all the sweets they’d bring home.

While that, in general, is a good thing, it did stir some memories of the holiday when I was a kid. Of course, the big decision was what costume to choose. Unfortunately for me, my mother insisted Halloween was about witches and ghosts and things of that ilk, so I couldn’t be a princess, which is what I really wanted to be.

I would point out, quite wisely I thought, that my best friend, Lizzie Cohen, was dressing as a princess, to which my mother replied, “If Lizzie Cohen walked off a cliff would you follow her?”

If I could wear a princess costume, then maybe.

One year, after our usual princess versus true Halloween characters, my mother suggested I go as a witch. I agreed, thinking of the comic book character Wendy the Witch, who was a cute witch wearing cute witch outfits.

My mother, on the other hand, decided to dye a bunch of sheets black, and then sew this voluminous witch outfit consisting of flowing black sheets with another black sheet as a cape.

So I had to go trick-or-treating with Liz and a bunch of other neighborhood friends, all of whom were dressed in some type of glittery princess costume.

Looking back, I realize how much work my mother put into that horrible costume – and she had a full-time job. As soon as I left the house, I ditched the large black pointy hat she had made following some complicated instructions.

I did not appreciate it at all. What I remember is feeling like, well, a kid wearing black sheets following a couple of princesses around. I’m sure my mom didn’t mean to cause any lasting psychological harm.

All this is why I really got into the candy aspect of Halloween – I needed a different focus. One of our neighbors handed out popcorn balls wrapped in blue, red or pin cellophane.

That was definitely No. 1, but I also coveted candy corn, taffies with peanut butter in the middle, and what I call candy corn pumpkins, because they taste like candy corn but look like little pumpkins.

I did not like getting apples unless they were covered with caramel. We had plenty of regular apples at home.

Trick-or-treating meant sweets, not healthy.

As for worries about razor blades, we went around the neighborhood, so my mother was pretty sure Dr. Lipner and his wife down the block weren’t inserting sharp objects into their taffy apples, nor was my grandmother next door putting glass in her popcorn balls.

So what do kids like to get for trick-or-treating nowadays?

According to candycorn.com, a company that sells candy, the top three in Michigan – they surveyed more than 40,000 people, and broke down the results by state – were Starburst, candy corn and Skittles.

Reading about trends made me realize that besides chocolate and candy there’s more emphasis on healthy Halloween treats, too. Or maybe I should say healthier.

Marge Hess Yetzke suggested Halloween Bark, including a recipe. Making Witch Fingers also was a popular idea, and might qualify as somewhat healthy as the recipes include almonds – though that’s probably a stretch.

Teresa Tharp suggested dipping a pretzel rod in melted chocolate chips, which, if not available at local grocery stores, are at any of the craft stores.

Once the rod is coated with chocolate, just add a slivered almond at the end for a fingernail.

If you want to take it one step further, Tharp suggested colored frosting to imitate the look of nail polish.

As for healthy, I collected recipes for fruit and veggies doctored with candy such as Ghostly Bananas, Healthy Witch Fingers and Bleeding Mouth Apples.

Halloween Bark

16 ounces dark chocolate, melted

Candy corn


White chocolate, melted

Spread dark chocolate in a sheet pan. Sprinkle candy corn and almonds on top. Drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Chill for 20 minutes and serve.

Healthy Witch Fingers

4 celery stalks, trimmed and cut in half

Almond or peanut butter

8 almonds

Red food coloring


Spread the celery halves with almond or peanut butter. Place an almond at one end.

Drop a very small amount of food coloring onto the base of the almond. Take the toothpick and spread the food coloring around.

To serve, place the almond fingers in a jar or large glass so the almond nails are standing up.

Bleeding Apple Mouths

1 apple

Slivered almonds

Strawberry or raspberry jam

Cut off the sides of an apple and cut them in half. Cut out a mouth in each apple quarter. Put 1 teaspoon of jam inside the apple to create a tongue.

Place slivered almonds upright into the front halves of the apple for the teeth.

Ghostly Bananas

1 banana

Chocolate chips

Peel a banana and cut in half. Place 1 chocolate chip with the pointy side in to create a mouth.

Cut a chocolate chip into quarters. Use 2 quarters to create the ghost’s eyes.

Mummy Dogs

1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 package hot dogs

2 to 3 slices cheese, cut into strips

Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise or relish, or a combination (for eyes and mouths)

Heat an oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the crescent dough from its package and form it into four rectangles. Seal the edges, and then, with a knife, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces for a total of 40 strips of dough. These are destined to become the mummies tattered bandages.

Wrap each hot dog with a strip of cheese. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog, leaving enough room at one end for part of a face to show.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, spray dough lightly with cooking spray. Bake around 15 minutes, until dough is golden brown in color.

Once cooked, use condiments to make eyes and mouth.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald-Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.