Halloween by the Numbers

People were asking this week if we get a lot of trick-or-treaters. I wasn’t sure what to say because the truth is I’ve never actually counted — until last night.

In an effort to apply a little science to Halloween, I kept track of how many trick-or-treaters received candy, and took notes on their costumes to see if I could pick out any cultural trend among the local children.

We served a total of 63 trick-or-treaters. There was one adult, who was either dressed as a biker or an S&M enthusiast. I was not sure and did not want to ask.

The greatest number of costumes recorded fall into the category “unknown.” These were either impossible to distinguish by observation, or incomprehensible after explanation. This may reflect a cultural bias on the part of the examiner who is not up on every aspect of pre-teen culture.

A note on methodology. I tried not to ask young kids what they were dressed as. Generally speaking, adults should avoid chatting with young children who come to their door because it’s creepy. When I was growing up, there was one creepy guy who insisted that we do a “trick” to get our “treat.” He clearly misunderstood Halloween, which is about handing out a “treat” so you don’t become the target of a “trick.” I remember walking away flummoxed because I didn’t know any tricks. What a jerk! I hope somebody egged his house.

Anyway, the diversity of costumes was impressive. There were more than 40 different identifiable costume character types represented and it is difficult to establish any sort of pattern. Surprisingly, there was only one vampire — and there were no politically themed costumes. Here are the top costume categories:

[table ]
[attr style=”width:10px”],Type of Costume,Trick-or-treaters,
1,Hippie ,4,

All of this makes me wish I’d started recording this data ten years ago, because it’s only with that sort of history that you can pick out trends. Expect another blog post like this in 2022.

12 thoughts on “Halloween by the Numbers

  1. I was shocked at the lack of trick or treaters (compared to past years) in my Guilderland neighborhood. Volume was down about 50 %. Now I have way too much candy left over…
    I didn’t keep track like you did but I do recall an awful lot of zombies.

    1. “Beggar’s Night” sounds like a rejection of Halloween and its pagan roots. It also sounds oddly… Republican.

  2. Egging houses is SOOOO LONG ISLAND!
    We used to do it through HS. But we never egged any houses or cars like the idiots in Colonie. We just egged each other. Much more fun.
    Oh, and dont forget the shaving cream!

    1. When I was in like ninth grade, huge packs of kids would roam around the streets of Carle Place on Halloween. When one group encountered another, the egging and shaving cream antics would begin. There was a mini-urban legend that people would spray Nair on you on Halloween and your hair would fall out. To the best of my knowledge, this never happened.

      But egging houses? It did sometimes happen, but only to people who were douchebags.

      1. In ‘The Pines’ in Hauppauge, the kids of NYC policemen would use the fireworks (confiscated from city kids by their dads) they hadn’t used on July 4th to lay waste to every pumpkin in the neighborhood. M-80’s would put pumpkin guts on the roof. Remarkable that none of them lost more than their hearing for a couple days.

        1. The M-80s were big at Mitchel Field, too . . . as were wrist rockets: half a dozen BBs shot from a wrist-braced slingshot could make quite a mess of a pumpkin (and the walls/windows behind them). Another stupid teenage trick that was common at Mitchel Field in the ’70s, and which I never encountered anywhere else: “Skitching,” e.g. holding onto the bumper of a car on a snowy/icy day and letting it pull you along behind it, with usually tragic/injurious/hilarious results . . .

          All of this hypothetically speaking, of course. Not that I ever saw or engaged in such behavior. Ahem.

          1. Ha! Just a short distance away, we called skitching “hitching.”
            As for fireworks, they were very common — and generally tolerated by adults.

  3. Kid packs were the norm here in the ‘burbs, too. The mean kids would get a can of their sisters Nair and use it, with poor results. Burning poop stoop paper bags were highly overated, and required a strong stomach to load.

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