Nugget of Knowledge: Where do we get the phrase ‘trick or treat’?


For American children, tricks -- and treats -- were a huge part of Halloween throughout the early 20th century

(WYTV) – Why do kids yell “trick or treat” at Halloween?

We have to go back to the 19th century when Irish and Scottish children celebrated the holiday by playing pranks on their neighbors. You know, jam a piece of hot cabbage into a keyhole to stink up someone’s house! says American children took this tradition from immigrants, so tricks were a huge part of Halloween throughout the early 20th century.

Treats were big, too. The practice of visiting your neighbors for a handout around Halloween has existed in some form or another for centuries.

Combining the two — tricks and treats — may have come from Canada. A Saskatchewan newspaper first put the words together in an article in 1923. The story read, “Halloween passed off very quietly here…treats not tricks were the order of the evening.”

The phrase appeared in Michigan’s Bay City Times the next year, describing how children called out “tricks or treats” to blackmail their neighbors into handing out sweets.

Sugar rationing brought trick-or-treating to a stop during World War II but by the early 1950s, it was back big time. The candy companies helped it along.

Charles Schulz had his Peanuts gang walking around town in costume for a Halloween comic strip in 1951 and Huey, Dewey and Louie got to go trick-or-treating in a 1952 Donald Duck cartoon titled “Trick or Treat.”

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