A bit of Halloween-related cultural anthropology…

On WAMU’s The Big Broadcast on Sunday, they played an old Halloween-themed episode from The Jack Benny Program called, “Jack Goes Trick or Treating.”

Despite the title, which matches our current day usage of the term “trick or treat,” Jack and others in the episode use the phrase differently. At about 17 minutes in, Jack says, “I’m with the boys, and we’re having a lot of fun playing trick or treat.”

“Playing trick or treat.” I love that – likely just because it’s different.

The earliest known usage of “trick or treat” describes the “edible plunder” (a magnificent phrase in itself) thusly:

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. […] The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

Happy Halloween, everyone.