PumpkinHeadI didn’t have any trick-or-treaters tonight for Halloween. A few parties here and there and when I read Nicole Sikora’s latest update on her blog as she was dressed up with just one kid knocking at the door, I couldn’t help remember my own fright night long ago. An era when Halloween meant coming home with enough candy to last until January.

I remember when all that changed too and the trick-or-treaters stayed home – afraid to go out in the dark.

One of my favorite memories of Halloween recalls me and my brother Keith scrambling from neighbor to neighbor in the seventies. We were about ten years old and we had to carry more than one bag as we had no trouble taking home a robber’s portion of candy bars, Now-Laters, Sweet Tarts, Mallow Cups and Zotz ! I remember Keith who was much shorter than I running through yards with a grocery bag and the dew from the October night slowly working a hole into his bag until he came home crying because he lost all his loot.

That’s the way it was. Now to the way it is.

I’ve started a new book from the two brothers, Chip and Dan Heath. Their bright orange cover with a strip of duck tape is titled “Made to Stick,” with the subtitle as “Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”

This book is the latest title about modern-day business thinking and Chip and Dan come from different backgrounds to explore this topic. Dan lives in nearby Raleigh and is a former Harvard Researcher who leads Thinkwell – a tech start-up working with educators and create multi-media resources. Chip is a professor at Stanford University where he teaches organizational behavior and became fascinated with why bad ideas sometimes won out in the social marketplace. Over his ten year experience, he worked with students and researchers to explore urban myths and stories. It’s a great book and real gem for business book worms looking for sticky ideas.

Back to Halloween.

I remember when Halloween changed. It was sometime in the early seventies and all of a sudden, rumors spread like a virus about Halloween sadists who hid razor blades and booby-trapped peices of candy. By 1985, an ABC news poll showed that 60 percent of parents worried their children might be victimized.

What’s interesting about this legend – it’s not true. According to the Heaths, researchers studied Halloween incidents all the way back to 1958. Their studies revealed no single incident like the rumors that spread for decades. In fact, two children did die on Halloween, but their deaths didn’t come from strangers. A five year old boy discovered his uncle’s heroin stash and overdosed. Another case exposes a father who was hoping to cash in on an insurance scam and caused his own son’s death by contaminating candy (meant for himself) with cyanide.

Interesting note from the authors;

“In other words, the best social science evident reveals that taking candy from strangers is perfectly okay. It’s your family you should worry about.”