History of Trick-or-treating

Pranks and More Pranks

In the United States, Halloween started out as mostly trick with very little treat. On Halloween night, you make yourself up in a homemade costume as spooky and evil as you could, being sure no one could recognize you. You’d make it out of burlap, old clothes, and masks.

Then, out the door you’d scamper for tricks! You’d grease doorknobs, throw flour at grumpy neighbors sitting on their porches, and even steal dead bodies. In the 1880s, kids took so many gates off their hinges to let the cows and sheep escape that people called October 31st, Gate Night.


In the 1930s during the Great Depression when everyone was out of work and poor, Halloween got a out of control and teenagers felled streetlamps and turned over cars. Parents got together and decided they needed to change Halloween to less tricking and more treating.

Instead of just having a party, some towns divided up the fun. One house handed out costumes, like white sheets for the kids to dress up as ghosts. The next house handed out treats. The next would set up a haunted house in the basement with bobbing for applies and other games.

Over the years, the going from house to house turned into kids dressing up and going house to house asking for treats.

Cute Costumes but a Lot of Work

As Halloween moved from tricks to treats, kids also started to wear costumes not based on evil characters but on popular ones, like Minnie and Mickey Mouse, and well, not sure if they aren’t evil, clowns. The costumes were still homemade.

Just Buy It

In the 1940s, companies began manufacturing costumes and selling them for as little as $1.25. The costumes came in a box with a mask and a one-piece fabric costume. That sounded like a good deal, especially to those making the homemade costumes and you could choose to anybody or anything!

Stars Wars or Bust

All went well, until Star Wars exploded on the scene. So many kids wanted to dress up as C-3PO, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia, that there was a shortage of costumes. But, instead of choosing to dress up as someone or something else, kids went back to making their own.

Superhero or Princess

Today, kids are split between dressing up like a superhero or a princess, with superheroes are winning. Which do you choose? And is it homemade or store bought?