Full-size candy bars are the holy grail of Halloween. For many trick-or-treaters, they are seen as the ultimate bounty—a proper, grown-up Snickers or Milky Way with which to mock less-fortunate peers before engorgement. For those giving out the candy, they offer a not-so-subtle way to outdo the neighbors—Halloween as potlatch. The house with the full-size bars is the best house on the block.
Though tempting, the practice is wrong-headed. Giving out full-size candy bars misses the point of Halloween. Here’s why.
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It’s not clear when the fun-size category first appeared in the candy aisle. Hershey’s Miniatures played the matter straight for decades. They were small versions of traditional bars. Then bite-size candy appeared in reception-desk bowls and Halloween tubs. As a descriptor, bite-size is both accurate and soulless. Though mostly a marketing term, fun-size is the right way to think about Halloween candy from a gastronomic perspective.
To understand why, it’s first necessary to understand what fun means. That’s easier said than done. It’s a word that people use without really knowing what they mean by it. Fun seems connected to enjoyment, but it also feels different than pleasure—hard things like games and sports can be fun, for example. As a game designer, I’ve thought a lot about the mystery of fun, and here’s what I’ve come up with: Fun is the feeling of finding something new in something familiar. Reaching a new accomplishment in a difficult task at work. Succeeding at an act on the pitch or in the gym that had previously resulted in failure. Doing the same thing already seen before, even, but with small variation.