ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri: The Halloween edition

Oct 15, 2019

Humor columnist Alexandra Petri will be online every Tuesday at 11 a.m. Eastern for ComPost live, where she'll offer a lighter take on the news of the day. Submit your comments on her columns and any other questions you might have.

Read Alexandra Petri's columns or catch up on past ComPost chats.

Follow Alexandria Petri on Twitter here.

Hello, all! Happy Tuesday and welcome to the chat where we discuss food, resolve grammar disputes, and ponder imponderable questions. This week we will be pondering two especially imponderable ones: what Halloween candy is the best? And does anyone need Halloween costume ideas? We are here to help! 

The full list of Americans' favorite candy, according to the poll: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - 36%... Snickers - 18%... M&M's - 11%... Hershey bars - 6%... Candy corn - 6%... Skittles - 5%... Starburst - 4%... Tootsie Pops - 2%... Take that Baby Ruth and Peeps!

I’m stunned and honored that candy corn beat Starbursts! I guess sweet and/or chocolatey defeats fruity? 

I would like to live in the gentle neighborhood where someone posting last week reported that the Halloween displays didn't show up until after the first of October. Where I live, they appeared around the 10th of August, alas.

I will switch with you! Unless they are gourds; those gourds may not still be thriving when the holiday itself rolls around. 

It's as if we share the same brain. (I'm sorry for you.) I was just about to declare conclusively that Reese's peanut butter cups are the best candy. I went through a perfect bag of the stuff last week. I may or may not be on the verge of opening a new bag this morning.

See, I am part of the dreaded candy corn preferring six percent on this one. Reese’s cups are objectively excellent, but give me the vile triangles any day. 

Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

It’s a Thanksgiving movie.

Which Democratic candidate will make the best costume this year?

I know the question is “as which candidate will people dress up?” (gotta be Tom Steyer, right?) but now I am trying to imagine the candidates constructing costumes. 

Six months pregnant and no good ideas! Bonus points if it's topical.

Ooh, a worthy challenge! Political topical? A few months ago I would have advised you to dress as Waiting For the Mueller Report, but maybe you could be [Name] and the Giant Impeach? 

Are the Nationals going to do the baseball thing?

Oh boy, I am sure excited about how they are doing! I am very proud of our brave lads. They are fit to stand toe to toe with any team in baseball, and I just hope they continue to put plays together and put points on the board! 

You have to get the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate correct. The full size ones are good, but the snack size ones are awful.

I am trying to visualize the snack-size ones. Too little peanut butter, right? Changes the whole equation. And has anyone tried the “thins”?

Following on the woman who is six months pregnant looking for a costume, what's the best costume if you're not showing yet but you're at the point that you're ready to announce to the world that you're pregnant and want to use your costume to that end?

You could go as “Great Expectations”!

Or, if you wanted to alarm people at the same time as sharing the exciting news, as Rosemary...

let me keep thinking! 

Let's give credit where it's due for the Nationals. All hail Baby Shark!

doo doo doo doo doo

I would be happy to adopt any unloved Baby Ruths. Will also rescue unwanted KitKats.

The questioner from earlier could go as “Ruth” and “Baby Ruth.” 


While some (and you know who you are!) contend that the Full Size Reese's Cups provide the optimal PB to Chocolate Ratio, for those of us in a hurry, the unwrapped Minis provide immediate access to yummy gratification. And you can delude yourself into believing that even 25 Minis contain fewer calories than just one Full Size. And as an added bonus Trader Joe's has a very acceptable rendition.

I accept this counterpoint. Yes, as you say, that is the miraculous thing about minis. There’s NO AMOUNT of them that you can consume that adds up to even ONE regular! 

Red robed Handmaiden seems to work.

is cookies. Peanut butter in the dough, and not too much of it, with either a chocolate melted on top, or a rolled-out dough spread with melted chocolate, rolled up, and sliced, like a cinnamon roll. Crisp.

That sounds delicious! And I bet it makes your home smell wonderful when baking! 

My mom always had a dish with candy corn in it every year around Halloween. She died six years ago and each year I buy a small bag and nibble on it in her memory. I used to like it a lot more than I do now, but I still enjoy it once a year. I'll raise one as a toast to you as well this year. I go more for Snickers or M&Ms or any chocolate with filbert/hazelnuts in it. It is fun, though, to try other candies from one's past around Halloween or Christmas. Sometimes you remember why you didn't like them and other times you say to yourself "Hey, this isn't bad!" and maybe try it again.

Yes! I enjoy discovering that my taste has changed! This is what I keep hoping will happen every time I eat scallops. 

You’re the star of a prestige television normal-person-becomes-criminal drama. For whatever reason, you have to launder a pile of money through a pop-up cash-only seasonal Halloween store. What is your scheme for getting enough customers that you can believably wash your ill-gotten gains? Bonus: What is the name of your show?

I think I’d have to go with the HALLOWEEN BOOTIQUE but there’s also MAUL OF AMERICA and AMERICAN GHOUL STORE. 

My show, on the other hand... Going Rogue? No, that’s taken. 

I live in the Baltimore suburbs, so I don't really follow the Nationals (but I'm rooting for them now!) Do they still have the racing Presidents mascots? Have they been replaced by baby sharks?

The racing presidents, like the fourth, will always be with us. The shark is something I think Gerardo Parra instigated because he used Baby Shark as his walk-on music and people delighted in it, so now it’s become a whole thing! 

The OP should submit it to the WaPo food section for inclusion in theyearly Christmas cookie extravaganza. Sounds like a winner to me!

Do you eat them all year round? I develop an irresistible craving for them around the 1st of October, one that vanishes in November each year.

Me too! My husband bought me an early bag and I just let them sit there untouched until the month turned! Now they are in a bowl and I’m honestly amazed some are still there.

Please explain for those of us too old / out of touch / oblivious to get the reference.

And then if people ask you can say “I’m a pregnant pause!” 

I used to love it, until one Halloween I bought myself a bag, a friend bought me a bag, and my boyfriend bought me a bag of candy corn. Enter dog, who jumps up on the counter while I’m at work and eats all three bags. I was cleaning up candy corn colored dog puke from the carpet for weeks.

Oh no! That would certainly do it for me! 

Speaking of racing presidents: Did anyone else hear one of the announcers last night say that the last time a Washington team was in the play offs or the world series (forgot which) was when Teddy Roosevelt was president. In 1933.

I did not! But that seems like the right timeframe.

I spotted a very small pack priced at about $1.95 for maybe a Trumpish handful and wondered "can they be all that much better?" Has anyone partaken?

I have not! Can anyone speak to this? 

for a horrific pun...that no one would get.

This is the trouble with all my Halloween costume ideas! They usually mandate that you carry a sign explaining what you are supposed to be. 

T Roosevelt was president 1901-1909, folks. FDR was in 1933.


I apologize, everyone. This is mortifying. 

Can you go with your partner, who would be dressed as "meaning"? You can just be you.

I saw a picture of two guys who made themselves half-avocados with their bellies sticking out as the pit. Just a thought.

Avocados are always topical!

There's always the good ol' Alien chestburster costume. Or an avocado (with the belly as the pit, of course)

Go as a nun.

Reese's - but pumpkins (or other holiday special shapes, e.g., trees, eggs, etc.), not the regular ones. For some reason the special shapes are the best Reese's of all - sugarier? I don't know. But I agree with the other chatter about the Trader Joe's version of mini Reese's - plus they are dark chocolate, so healthy!

Yes! Um, antioxidants! 

Jack or Jill O'Lantern

You could also go as Lady Liberty and have a sign that says “CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY.” 

Can we still be talking about regular Reese's Peanut Butter Cups when we can buy the (relatively) new Reese's BIG CUP ?

How is the ratio?

when I was growing up in England, my mother used to make a special treat every year on Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night. She called it Bonfire Toffee, but basically it was some sort of melted dark sugar concoction with a slightly burned taste (deliberate?) that cooled into something like a sheet of brown-colored glass that you had to break into pieces. When you sucked on it for a while it turned into an extremely sticky mess that wrought dreadful dental damage. No one liked it much but it was a family tradition.

“No one liked it much but it was a family tradition.” I think you’ve described every family tradition! 

I have so many questions, especially the “(deliberate?)” which made me giggle heartily. 

I'm with Paula Poundstone on this: the *new* Butterfingers are terrible. I'm heartbroken.

Oh no, what did they do to them?

Maybe it wasn't just the Chatter's family who partook (is that a word?), maybe all of England endured that concoction. Would help explain the perception that the British have bad teeth.

They were all forced through this sugary gauntlet! That they emerged so comparatively unscathed was a miracle! 

They are no longer made with real butter or real fingers?

Wear regular clothes, as if you weren't in costume at all. When people ask about your costume, tell them you're dressed as a non-pregnant woman. Boom. Announcement to the world made.

I don't find the new ones horrible, but I won't go out of my way to buy them. I loved the old butterfinger. Whoever created the new Butterfinger commercials, however, should be put in jail. They are truly awful.

I have yet to see them, although I have lately become absolutely obsessed with the Chantix turkey. I just wish there were another turkey visible anywhere in the landscape! Otherwise his solitude seems vast and unspeakable. None of his vacation photos include other birds! He goes camping alone! At one point my husband texted me urgently because he saw a pigeon in the commercial but it was not to scale so if anything I know less about the world than I did previously. 

After being bought by Ferrero, the recipe was changed. And changed for the worse. Blech.

In my long ago youth, I loved Pay Day candy bars, and felt that their nougat to peanut to salt ratio bordered on perfection. As it became imperative to reduce the size of the candy or raise the price beyond the reach of elementary school children (or at least those whose allowances were meager) Mars (?) in their misguided marketing acumen decided to change things. And the health nuts probably said reduce the salt while you're at it. But I say "Don't tamper with perfection." What probably was weekly indulgence is now little more than a few times a year. Did you learn nothing from New Coke?

I too used to love Paydays, but I think the thing I loved was the adulterated version. I think they would have been lovely saltier!

This is classic English toffee. They even sell little hammers to smash them up into bite-sized pieces with.

Well, that’s how you know you have a flawless comestible. It’s sold with a hammer.

Nats aps etc, plus an ad for Hebrew Nationals hot dogs. Presto, you're a Hebrew Nat! You can get Nats caps with the name in Hebrew.

I know you did a podcast script for Flying V. Well, I saw their new show on Sunday. It is terrific. A little macabre. A little worried about the human condition. Sometimes sweetly funny. VERY well directed with lots of movement. Not the same old "only a little over an hour and a half so everyone can actually get home before the Metro closes" so be careful about the timing. The Silver Spring transportation hub is just a few minutes walk. Highly recommended.

Thanks for the recommendation! This sounds really cool!

Candy Corn or Mellowcreme pumpkins? Also, flavors of candy corn? Do you have truck with any of these variants?

I have no truck with mellocreme pumpkins. If I had a truck with mellowcreme pumpkins, I would eat all of them.

I don’t like non-standard flavors of candy corn — not chocolate topped, not Christmas, not Valentines. 

dress up as it for Halloween. I'm really not getting this one.

It’s a hot dog!

I think that the jelly belly candy corn is the same as Goelitz (sp?) which is just about the gold standard of candy corn, tied only with BRACH'S

BRACH’s is perfection. My one objection to candy corn is to any candy corn with a glaze on it. It needs no glaze.

It looks like the color and flavor come from molasses which sounds most excellent to me. I've been known to eat spoonfuls of blackstrap molasses from the jar.

When candy and drinks and anything good were laced with hardcore drugs! By the original manufacturers! And advertised as such! It's possible I'm remembering this wrong. But I wasn't there.

And on that note, have a great day, everyone! See you next week! In the interim, I’ll be on the blog ( and Twitter (@petridishes)! Go Nats! 

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.
Recent Chats
  • Next: