It's a Fact: Kids Hate Tootsie-Rolls

We decided to tend to the trick-or-treaters until about 6:30 then went down to Crate & Barrel in Bellevue to finally buy the dining room chairs that go with the table we purchased 3 years ago. Yes, we've had a table with no chairs in our dining room for 3 years but that's beside the point.

I'm writing because before we left I combined the two enormous bowls of candy into one disposable aluminum roasting pan and set it on a folding table on the front porch. On the door I taped an orange and black sign that read, "Happy Halloween! Take 2 pieces of candy & leave some for everyone else. Thanks!" So the social experiment was on. I decided to forego hiding a videocamera on the porch but in hindsight I really wish I had.

As many of you know, Kristin and I live in one of those massive planned communities where the homes are all really close together and every house (by law it would seem) has at least two youngsters running around. And if that wasn't enough to get your doorstep walked off every 31st of October, hundreds of families from surrounding towns drive their kids here to go trick-or-treating. Simply driving down our street tonight was a challenge as parked cars lined both sides of the road and an endless stream of traffic was pouring into our neighborhood. We were the proverbial salmon fighting the current. In the midst of this mayhem was a local ambulance parked catty-corner giving out candy and glow-sticks to all the kids. One block down from them was a local church group giving out free hot cocoa. I wasn't able to identify the feeling I had upon seeing such a scene but in retrospect I do believe it was my cockles being warmed.

Kristin and I felt certain that there would be no candy left in the bowl when we returned home. We felt so sure of this that we put the candy in the cheap aluminum throwaway tin because I actually expected someone to simply walk off with the nice plastic bowls I normally use. Kristin actually suspected that our folding snack table may well disappear too.

Well, wouldn't you know that when we returned home after 10pm that there was still a small amount of candy left in the bowl? The sign still hung where I taped it and everything on the porch was nice and neat. I can tell you I set out exactly 10.7 pounds of candy consisting of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Ways, Kit-Kats, Skittles, Nerds, Butterfingers, and on and on. Over 400 pieces of candy according to the bags! This is what's left:
  • 39 Tootsie Rolls
  • 9 Sweet Tarts
  • 6 Nestle Crunch
  • 1 Tootsie Pop (cherry)
  • 1 Laffy Taffy (strawberry)
  • 1 Baby Ruth
  • 1 Jolly Rancher (cherry)

I always believed based on my own experience that Tootsie Rolls -- second only to Sugar Daddies -- were the most loathsome candy you can give out at Halloween, but this proves it. It's clear the kids picked over the selection pretty thoroughly and, I'm guessing, the large majority stuck by the take-2-pieces rule I posted on the sign. If not, there would certainly not be any Baby Ruths or Sweet Tarts left. Naturally, my science background is warning me against trying to draw any sweeping conclusions from this "experiment" but I can't help but think that this not only proves that kids really don't like Tootsie Rolls, but also that if you trust today's kids with an offering of good will, most will return that trust by doing what you ask. And this sort of shames me, not only because I expected them to steal the candy but because I know damn well that if my friends and I had come across a house with a giant bowl of candy when we were kids, that we would have walked off with the whole bowl. And then we would have fought over who would get to keep it. Sharing? Nonsense! But maybe I say that because nobody ever did trust us with such a scenario. Maybe we would have felt obligated to do what the sign asked?

Or maybe nobody over the age of eight came trick-or-treating while we were gone...


Jackie said...

Hmm, too many variables. Video data would've been helpful, but you could consult various friends/neighbors both nearby and afar to test your hypotheses. I suspect that it was the parents who were controlling the children. Today, it seems, fewer children are out on their own, due to fears of safety. When we were kids, we went out trick-or-treating on our own, which means a different environment and different course of action...hence, your prior expectations of a stolen candy bowl. (That's the scientist in ME talking now!)

Great story though! How are the chairs? ;-)

Criscipline said...

Perhaps size was also a factor here. I imagine kids reached first for the biggest items and after all that grabbing I think it's possible that the tootsie rolls sort of kept falling in the bowl to the bottom like unpopped corn kernels. There also may have been more tootsie rolls to begin with. A bag of tootsie rolls has a lot more pieces than a bag of baby ruths.

Mike and I took a walk last night and saw a couple of the same metal roasting pans (LOL - they too were afraid someone would steal the bowl) and there wasn't a morsel of candy in any of them.

Jackie said...

And I thought I'd add just another theory that my labmate came up with when I was talking with him at lunch: perhaps they DID steal the bowl, take the good stuff, and give back what they didn't want, and we nice enough to put the bowl back with the final pickin's.