Halloween has always been a thrilling time, even now as an adult. Being fond of spooky monsters and horror stories from my childhood, I’d wait anxiously for this time of the year. I’d start all of the preparations a month earlier; as soon as September 30 arrived, I’d start planning! Halloween was a time for spooky adventures as I enjoyed shopping for costumes and putting up scary decorations. While my friends dressed up as boring old witches, fairies, and cartoon characters, I strived for the most unique and scariest costume.

Of course, the most anticipated activity on Halloween night was trick or treating. In addition to grabbing heaps of candy from the neighbourhood, this night provided endless opportunities to explore the horrifying sights. Each year my friends and I would head out on a special Halloween adventure to visit abandoned places, like old houses, dark parks, and closed-down stores. I had a “ghost club” with my friends where we’d share haunted stories and plan our Halloween trips.

I clearly remember one particular Halloween night in great detail, when we headed out to explore an abandoned house up on a hill. It was one of those sites that captivated our interest mostly due to its age and mystery surrounding it. We wanted to discover the secrets of that old house and explore a place where no one had stepped foot in decades.

We made a plan to hike up to the house after collecting all of our neighbourhood’s delicious candy. It took us a while to climb that hill, but my friends and I made it up the muddy, moonlit slope around 10 pm. The squeak of the rusty gate is burned into my memory, not to mention the heavy scent of moss and dirt. As we crossed the threshold of the foyer, we heard the scuttle of rats, which unsettled our already fraying nerves. But what kind of Halloween adventurers would we be if we hadn’t pressed on? We passed the old living room furnishings as we made our way to the dining room, crossing dirty threadbare carpets and faded paintings.

My friends and I looked through the room’s trinkets. I found a dust-covered box of candy, seemingly undisturbed for years. It was pink in colour with the most ornate gold embellishments on each side of the box. I slowly removed the lid and found several small compartments within; some were empty, but some contained candy wrappers and a sweet fruity scent filled the air. I loved the candy box, and I decided to take it as we hurried out of the old house. I wasn’t the only one that came away from that adventure with a prize; my friend Maria found an old tea set, and another friend Tyler brought home a toy train, carved out of wood. We brought our loot down the hill and before parting ways, we promised never to tell anyone where we found these items. I still keep all of my candy in the pink and gold candy box from that dark, abandoned mansion. Each Halloween, once the trick-or-treaters have ended their nights, I sort through the leftover candy and place it into the compartments of the candy box. A continuing epilogue to a story started long ago: my very own Halloween candy adventure.

I have 4 brothers. I’m right in the middle. That means that anything we got into was never really my fault. And we got into a lot.

We lived on the very edge of a small town where we ended up mostly hanging out with each other. Rick, my oldest brother, was just 11 and the rest of us were younger than that. None of us had jobs, and our parents were certainly not handing out anything like an allowance for doing chores.

But we were a creative bunch.

I won’t tell you the story about when we filled the bathtub up with garter snakes, or the time we drove dad’s old car into the creek. Those stories are true, but they only happened once. One thing we did constantly was go on a mission to find a way to get some candy. We were honest, small town kids so we had to either find work or find money.

Work might have been easy enough to find, but it would have meant, well… working… so we went for the money route. We collected pop bottles and cans. We stuck our heads into garbage cans and opened the ties on garbage bags to check out the contents. We scoured every ditch. We tip toed behind the restaurant (yes, there was only one) to see if they had thrown anything returnable out into the trash.

After hours and hours of searching and doing our civic duty for the environment (my current spin on it but that wasn’t even on the horizon then), we came up with a box of bottles and cans. There was that one time we used mom’s laundry basket, which apparently got sticky and she did not “appreciate it, in the least!”

We all took an end. Sometimes sliding the box on the sidewalk, and sometimes managing to carry it between us, we got it to the corner store. Well, not really a “corner store” because it wasn’t on the corner. It was directly across the main street from the Post Office. The Post Office seemed huge in comparison. The candy store was just 2 aisles. In my memory at least. Maybe there were more aisles, but if there were, they did not have any candy on those shelves.

The clerk took the bottles and cans and took forever counting how much cash we had earned that afternoon. Finally, he forked it over and we divvied it up.

And then came the Candy Math.

How much money did I have? How much did everything cost? What could I get? I remember walking up and down those 2 aisles smelling the sweet scent of chocolate and sugar, with a faint hint of mint near the gum display. I might have just strolled near the candy all day if Wayne (my second oldest brother and the person in the world who scared me the most at the time) didn’t remind me that we needed to get home quickly, now. (That sounded nicer than it was.)

I got a chocolate bar, and some penny candies (I think they were a nickel). I held them close to my heart as we walked back home.

When we got home my brothers all ran to their rooms to eat all their candies. I remember sitting on the back step with our dog, Suzie, and just smelling that Snickers Bar for a long time. I must have eaten it eventually, but what I remember is how good it smelled.

My kids LOVE lollipops! I love lollipops, too! I figure they are some sort of secret weapon for managing kids in line-ups and waiting rooms.

Allan Vertlieb started making lollipops in his kitchen and then sold them out of his home like it was a candy store. All it takes is heating up a syrup to 146-150C (295-300F) so that 99% of the liquid is removed. Yes, I said 150C! Body temperature is 37C, and room temperature is 22C (or 18C if you have to pay for the hydro). That is super hot syrup! The result is a lovely almost pure sugar in a beautiful clear solution that is perfect for lollipops!

This was back in 1931, when Allan Vertlieb founded The Allan Candy Company Limited, in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. I like to remind people that not just steel is made in Hamilton, since the best Easter and Christmas candies are made there, too. More candy canes are made by Allan Candy than any other candy company in Canada! In fact, they have even been nicknamed “The Easter Bunny Company”.

I’m sure you’ve heard of something that Allan Candy makes. You’ve probably seen them all at better local candy stores. There’s Big Foot, Sour Grape Slices, Hot Lips, Say Bon, Sour Blue Raspberries, Allan Candy Canes, Mr. Solid Easter Bunny, Eggztra, Sour Cherry Slices, plus the Allan Candy’s Bulk, Pick a Treat and Pick & Mix assortments of sugary confectioneries in soft toffee and hard candy. If you didn’t recognize the name, you would recognize the candy! How about Sour Patch Kids?

Allan Candy Company has been careful to keep up with what Canadians and candy lovers around the world are looking for. The Quebec facility is peanut-free with an SQF Level 2 certification. (That’s the only audit program the Global Food Safety Initiative recognizes.)

The latest products they have released are called “Dessert Bites”. These come as a response to a decline in the sales of candy recently. (Say what???) A combination of a declining birth rate (so there are fewer kids, it is not your imagination), and a general shift toward healthier snack choices has created the need for these new Dessert Bites.

The Dessert Bites are offering lower calories and fat than other chocolate bars but are still amazingly delicious. They naturally support portion control and often have more natural ingredients.

Sugar confectionery sales might be going down, but the chocolate confection sector is growing for the entire candy industry, as well as for Allan Candy. Chocolate is projected to continue to grow by 2% a year. Now, that makes perfect sense to me.

In 2014, Hershey, the Pennsylvania chocolate company, completed their purchase of The Allan Candy Company. The acquisition of the iconic Canadian candy manufacturer built on The Hershey Company’s long-term presence in Canada, and their commitment to our Canadian candy market.

The market is still changing rapidly, and Canadians are seeking healthier options for our indulgences. Hershey and Allan Candy are responding with delicious options. Together they are founded on their longstanding successful histories of providing candy in Canada, a huge line of products, and cool options for clients to order specially made candies. Allan Candy joins the list of legendary Canadian candy companies.