Our Halloween check list has us deep in all things pumpkin, so we've been sharing some of our favorite pumpkin recipes on our Facebook page.
But beyond the glorious gourd, one of my favorite things to do this time of year is to create sweet treats for trick-or-treaters and our party guests. This is, after all, the time of year when candy corn and sugary sweets are EVERYWHERE.
My favorite Halloween candy factoid comes from this great story in The Atlantic magazine a few years ago: The average Jack-O-Lantern bucket in the U.S. will hold about 250 pieces of candy - or about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar.
Holy mother of sweet treats. That's a ton of sugar. But it wasn't always that way. I remember stories my parents would tell, about how back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, parents would be handing out pennies or fruit or homemade cookies - even small toys from the five-and-dime store in town. Halloween night was more about pulling pranks - such as knocking over mailboxes - than hauling in sweet loot (according to some older guy friends who have since reformed their bad-boy ways).
Today, there are still pranksters - and candy. Lots and lots of candy. One DIY Halloween treat that's always a hit: spooky rock candy. A tasty party favor, these lollipops are a nod to a classic candy - with a crafty twist.
What is rock candy? It's simply sugar that has crystallized onto a string or stick. It's very easy to make, but it can be time consuming. (We're working on a tutorial.) So you can make your own - or you can buy the lollipops from candy makers. Often, the sugar is colored or flavored. Kids love to eat them. So do adults! I tend to use them to stir a bit of sweetness into my coffee or tea in the morning.
The beauty of this project is you can't do anything wrong. And it's AWESOME for kids to create with their Moms and Dads (and grandparents).
Here's what we used:
You can buy rock candy lollipops from any classic candy store or online. (Or email us and we'd be happy to check our supplies. We're stocking some of these in our retail shop in Chicago right now, in preparation for the Halloween and Christmas season.)
For decorations, hunt through your button collection for colorful buttons, sift through your local craft shop for fun little doodads, or hit a vintage shop and find old magazines with interesting images to cut out. We found some fun buttons in tombstone shapes, bats and mini skulls.
Want to jazz up the bag? You can glue decorations onto the pretzel bag, then slide the candy stick in. We bought these DIY printable Halloween tags from Vectoria Designs on Etsy, then printed them on a white cardstock and cut out the designs - easy!
Washi tape is a decorative Japanese masking tape - there are tons of different designs out there, and easily available through Etsy and other big online e-commerce sites. The pretzel rod bags can be purchased through most candy or baking supply shops or on Amazon.
Want to cover the wooden candy handle? Simply roll the washi tape along the bottom of the candy stick.
Finally, slip your rock candy into the pretzel bag, loop the ribbon through a decorative button (if you have one), and tie the bag closed. And get ready for the kids and adults to dive in!