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THE STORY ~
Whooooo will you be for Halloween? This is the frenzied question on every American kid's lips that signals autumn has settled in, and Halloween is just around the corner. Kids rejoice at thoughts of that upcoming candy haul, and retailers celebrate as well, since Halloween generates over six billion dollars in costume, decoration, party, parade, and candy sales now. Candy alone accounts for more than half of all the sales. The candy industry relies on Halloween for a quarter of its annual revenue.
Halloween wasn't always such a commercial jackpot. Although regional traditions have always varied slightly throughout America, it used to be simpler. On the east coast in the mid-1800s, Halloween celebrants pulled up kale or cabbage stalks and heated walnuts in the hearth fire, playing divination games from an earlier age. Halloween was devoted to revealing the identity of a future spouse, or the number of children one might eventually have.
By 1914—when the patent on which our Halloween design is based was issued—dressing up in costumes was clearly the custom for both children and adults. Carving jack-o-lanterns and placing candles in them was as popular a century ago as it is today. Parties and parades were also common in 1914. Apple-bobbing, hayrides, and bonfires were more prevalent in earlier times than they are now, although they are still enjoyed by many.
The yearly tradition meant crowds gathered in downtown areas while people wandered around in their costumes, or "disguises" as they were called at the turn of the twentieth century. Local police issued stern warnings that “ticklers (a stick used to poke people),” talcum powder, and “flying wedges” would not be tolerated. There were also children’s parties and activities, but Halloween was largely an adult affair. Kids, however, for better or worse, found ways to amuse themselves.
A holiday for pranksters, police warnings hint at the rising level of mischief, most of it attributed to youngsters. Local newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s are filled with reports of soaped cars, streetlights knocked out, fire hydrants turned on, random property damage, hatchets through doors (!), and objects such as pianos ending up in backyards (!!).
Nationwide, Halloween became such a dangerous holiday that civic leaders called for solutions. The realization dawned that handing out treats to children might diminish the tricks. Communities began offering parties and parades filled with prizes and treats for kids; vandalism diminished. World War II also changed things: as a new sense of civic duty arose and even pumpkins flashed “V for Victory,” excessive pranking seemed downright unpatriotic.
The post-war Baby Boom brought more changes, and Halloween became primarily an event for children. Now young masqueraders headed out with candy as their goal during an evening of Trick or Treating, perfect for new suburban neighborhoods. While costumes and characters have changed since then, the 1950s and 1960s created the holiday most of us know today.
Whether you dress up for Halloween yourself, or just hand out the treats that ward off neighborhood tricksters, PatentWear’s Halloween design from the 1914 patent will ensure that you do it in timeless style.