A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 18, 2008
“Trick or Treat” (“Trick or Treat for UNICEF”)

The origin of the “trick or treat” ritual (children going from door-to-door on Halloween, asking for candy) derives from “guising” that was done in Scotland and Ireland. The phrase “trick or treat” first appears in Ontario, Canada, in 1917, and was popular in the 1920s in the Northwest (the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and then the earliest United States citations are from the states of Oregon, Washington, Montana and Michigan).
“‘Tricks or treats’ you could hear the gangs call out” was printed in The Sault Daily Star (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) on November 1, 1917, “Treat or trick” was printed in the Owen Sound (ON) Sun on November 2, 1917. “Tricks and treats” was printed in The Daily Standard (Kingston, ON) on October 31, 1918.
“‘TREAT OR TRICKS’ HALLOWE’EN SLOGAN WAS OUT OF PLACE. ‘Treat up or tricks,’ the ultimatum on the part of young Canada which is usually associated with Hallowe’en was on Tuesday evening apparently in the same classification as those proclamations broadcasted to the Turks—no one took particular notice of it” was printed in the Edmonton (Alberta) Bulletin on November 2, 1922.
“Hallowe’en passed off very quietly here. ‘Treats’ not ‘tricks’ were the order of the evening” was printed in The Leader (Regina, Saskatchewan) on November 2, 1923. “Treat or Trick” was printed in the Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate on November 7, 1924. “Treats or tricks!“was printed in The Leader (Regina, Saskatchewan) on December 11, 1926.
Citations of “trick or treat” were published in the Calgary (Alberta) Daily Herald on November 3, 1927, and in the Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) Herald on November 4, 1927. Both stories described the practice in Blackie, Alberta.
The New York City-based United Nations became associated with Halloween in 1952, when children in Philadelphia went trick-or-treating by asking for coins for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
“Tricks or treats, money or eats!” has been cited in print since at least 1943. Another rhyming extension (cited in print since at least 1964) is “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.” “Trick or treat, bags of sweets, ghosts are walking down the street” is still another extension.
“Twick or tweat” (or “Twick or tweet”) is sometimes used in print, usually to indicate the speech of a very young child.
“Halloween apples!” and “Shell out!” are other Halloween shouts that have been popular in Canada. “Charity, please!” is a Halloween shout that has been used mostly in the province of Quebec.
Wikipedia: Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters. The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children planned to go trick-or-treating.
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas.”
Yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practiced in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British antecedent. There is little primary documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween — in Ireland, the UK, or America — before 1900. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York, reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street guising (see below) on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Another isolated reference appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. Ruth Edna Kelley, in her 1919 history of the holiday, The Book of Hallowe’en, makes no mention of such a custom in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America.” It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term “trick or treat” appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.
The tradition of ‘Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF’ began in 1950 in the United States when Philadelphia school children first went door-to-door at Halloween collecting money in decorated milk cartons to help the world’s children.
They raised a grand total of $17, kicking off a campaign that has since brought in more than $188 million to provide medicine, better nutrition, clean water, education, emergency relief and other support to children in more than 160 countries.
1 November 1917, The Sault Daily Star (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), pg. 2, col. 5:
But Those Out Last Night Seemed to Hav Good Time
“Tricks or treats” you could hear the gangs call out, and if the householder passed out the “coin” for the “treats” his establishment would be immune from attack until another gang came along that knew not of or had no part in the agreement.
2 November 1917, Owen Sound (ON) Sun, “Chatsworth,” pg. 2, col. 5:
The usual number of boys and girls were out on Wednesday evening ringing door bells, etc., but nothing more formidable than a few false faces and “treat or trick” greeted me, on going to the door.
31 October 1918, The Daily Standard (Kingston, ON), pg. 1, col. 5:
Children’s Festival Will Likely be Quiet for Several Reasons
In many homes Hallowe’en parties will be held, at which games, tricks and treats will be in order, but on the whole, it is likely that the evening will be passed quietly.
3 November 1921, Owen Sound (ON) Sun-Times, pg. 3, col. 3:
Chatsworth Boys and Girls Were on Good Behavior That Night
Hallowe’en, on the whole, passed off very quietly here. The small boys and girls too, were out in large numbers, with their customer false faces, etc., calling on many of the citizens, wit the salutation “treat or a trick.”
2 November 1922, Edmonton (Alberta) Bulletin, pg. 6, col. 4:
(The Morning Bulletin is the newspaper title on the first page, but Edmonton Bulletin is at the top of this page.—ed.)
“Treat up or tricks,” the ultimatum on the part of young Canada which is usually associated with Hallowe’en was on Tuesday evening apparently in the same classification as those proclamations broadcasted to the Turks—no one took particular notice of it.
2 November 1923, The Leader (Regina, Saskatchewan), pg. 3, col. 5:
Hallowe’en passed off very quietly here. “Treats” not “tricks” were the order of the evening.
3 November 1923, Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Daily Star, “Hallowe’en Celebrations,” pg. 24, col. 4:
ROSETOWN.—Hallowe’en was celebrated here in a lively fashion. Numerous parties were held throughout the town and the usual battalions of children covered all sections of the town demanding treats or else suffering the dire penalty of tricks for refusal.
31 October 1924, Edmonton (Alberta) Bulletin, pg. 3, col. 2:
The familiar Hallowe’en ultimatum of “Treat up—or tricks” is to be more or less a back number this season.
7 November 1924, Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate, pg. 4, col. 2:
Hallowe’en night was observed in the usual manner by the young “bloods” in Penhold. “Fun is fun, and tricks are tricks,” but when such public buildings as school and Memorial Hall are molested with no option for “Treat or Trick,” we can not see where either fun or trick is enjoyed by the participants.
4 November 1925, Red Deer (Alberta) News, pg. 7, col. 2:
Spooks, witches goblins black cats and all their kindred associations were out in full force on Saturday to play their usual Hallowe’en pranks. Hordes of juveniles in a variety of make-ups made house-to-house canvass of the city, and in most cases, in response to their time-honored threat of “trick or treat” were regaled with plentiful supplies of candy, peanuts, apples, etc., by the householders—discretion this time being considered the better part of valor.
6 November 1925, Chehalis (WA) Bee-Nugget, pg. 2, col. 3:
A little folks party was given at the home of Clias, Westerland, Saturday afternoon for Charlotte Dunn, who entertained her little guests with Halloween treats and tricks during the afternoon.
3 November 1926, Sault Daily Star (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), “Algoma News,” pg. 8, col. 2:
Saturday night the kids of the town went on their annual pilgrimage to pester the residents “trick or treat,” being the password.
11 December 1926, The Leader (Regina, Saskatchewan), “Torchbearers’ Letters,” Torchbearers’ Magazine, pg. 6, col. 1:
Dear Torchies:
We had a dandy time on Hallowe’en. A bunch of us went out together and it wasn’t very long before we had a real crowd. We played tricks and also yelled “Treats or tricks!” and usually we got the treats, which were apples, peanuts, candy, or gum.
Wilcox, Sask.
3 November 1927, Calgary (Alberta) Daily Herald, “High River News,” pg. 22, col. 4:
(Special Dispatch to The Herald)
HIGH RIVER, Nov. 3.—T. D. Colcord of Minot, South Dakota, proprietor of the newspaper “The Independent,” spent some time this fall with his brother-in-law, Mr. Jack Evans of Blackie. He was much interested in this country and since his return to Minot has devoted several columns in his newspaper to records of his trip, extolling the virtues of South Alberta and giving very complete statistics on the achievements of this country.
Hallowe’en came and went and was observed most circumspectly in town, without the usual depredations. The greatest activity was manifested by the very young, who wandered in droves from door to door, heavily disguised and demanding “trick or treat.” To treat was to be untricked, and the youthful hold-up men soon returned home bowed down with treats.
3 November 1927, The Sault Daily Star (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), “Algoma News,” pg. 7, col. 1:
Last night was Hallowe’en and it sure was. The town was overrun with hundred of kids, all in their peculiar getup. They traipsed the town from one end to the other, never missing a house and the cry of “trick or treat” netted them gains either way.
3 November 1927, The Sault Daily Star (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), pg. 8, cols. 5-6:
The good people of the town had many calls at their doors where the same phrase was always delivered “Treat or trick.”
4 November 1927, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, pg. 5, col. 2:
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
BLACKIE, Nov. 3—Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. 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.
25 October 1928, Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate, pg. 12, col. 6 ad:
Porter’s Hallowe’en Display
Trick-or-Treat Candy—Give them a better candy at the same price. Special—35c lb
(Porter’s Pharmacy.—ed.)
1 November 1928, Bay City (MI) Daily Times, pg. 3, col. 2:
“Trick or Treats?”
The Black Hand gang itself would envy the activities of some of the children of Bay City if it could see them in the midst of their practice of the gentle art of blackmail. But like duck shooting, blackmail is a seasonable sport, and that season was closed last night after about six weeks during which trade was plyed with furor.
In fact, regular beats were developed by the children, and the peaceful citizens lived in terror of the time each evening when they should be summoned to their front doors to hear the fatal ultimatum “Tricks or treats!” uttered in a merciless tone by some small child who clutched in one grubby fist a small chunk of scap capable of eliminating the transparency from any number of windows.
The none too subtle are of blackmail!
And woe betide any housekeeper who had not the proper supply of apples, cookies, candy, or peanuts on hand to avert disaster. Though they were stale to the crumbling point yet they served to assuage the unbelievable appetites of the “Hallowe’eners.”
But that is all over now, and all the unfortunates have is bitter memories, and all the “Hallowe’eners” have is—stomachaches.
University of Alberta Libraries
8 November 1929, Irma (Alberta) Times, pg. 5, col. 3:
Hallowee’en passed off in the usual manner Thursday evening. The smaller children made up parties and had a jolly time making house to house calls with the greeting “tricks or treats,” and the owners not wishing any tricks, came across with a smile.
University of Alberta Libraries
6 November 1930, Western Globe (Lacombe, Alberta), pg. 5, col. 6:
On Friday evening, while their younger brothers and sisters were threatening the good people of the town with “treats or tricks” the High School boys and girls enjoyed themselves at a masquerade frolic.
31 October 1931, Calgary (Alberta) Daily Herald, “Making the Most of Hallowe’en” by Hilda Buckman, pg. 21, col. 8:
THE days are shorter now and the evenings lengthening out, so it is high time to being to plan for the winter’s entertainment. A Hallowe’en party would be a splendid start, for the children always want something special for that day, and if you don’t want them playing the usual trick and treat stunt, you had better make timely provision.
7 November 1931, Calgary (Alberta) Daily Herald, “Sunshine Aids Through Dance at High River,” pg. 22, col. 3:
The young people of the town organized a number of “spook” parties at various homes, and the juveniles made their annual canvas of the town, on the “trick or treat” principle.
31 October 1932, Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Halloween Jollity Within Reason” by Marian Miller, pg. 8, col. 1:
“Trick or treat?” the youthful mischief-maker will say this evening, probably, as he rings the doorbell of a neighbor. Or he may not stop to warn the innocent householder, but will proceed to soap his windows, steal his door mat, uproot his precious shrubs or place his garbage can on the front porch.
2 November 1933, Minneapolis (MN) Tribune, “Halloween Has Police Sequel: More Than 100 Juveniles Questioned About Their Part in Major Vandalism,” pg. 11, col. 5:
“Treats or tricks,” was the way she put it.
1 November 1934, Oregon Journal (Portland, OR), “Halloween Pranks Keep Police on Hop”:
Other young goblins and ghosts, employing modern shakedown methods, successfully worked the “trick or treat” system in all parts of the city.
2 November 1934, Helena (MT) Independent, “The Gangsters of Tomorrow,” pg. 4:
Pretty Boy John Doe rang the door bells and his gang waited his signal. It was his plan to proceed cautiously at first and give a citizen every opportunity to comply with his demands before pulling any rough stuff. “Madam, we are here for the usual purpose, ‘trick or treat.’” This is the old demand of the little people who go out to have some innocent fun. Many women have some apples, cookies or doughnuts for them, but they call rather early and the “treat” is given out gladly.
2 November 1935, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, “High River Sees Orderly Hallowe’en,” pg. 3, col. 8:
So the juveniles of High River contented themselves with decorous pilgrimages from house to house collecting tribute, and the old threat of “trick or treat” was only half-hearted.
6 November 1935, Helena (MT) Independent, “After Hallowe’en,” pg. 4, cols 1-2:
The Mayor, not having awakened to this opportunity, The Independent assumes the task of heartily thanking the children, big and little, for not even pulling the old “trick or treat” racket.
Google News Archive
6 November 1935, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, pg. 4, col. 1:
SPOKANE youngsters have found a sort of “racket” which one its first trial was tolerated by their elders. It was limited to Halloween time and for that reason some regarded it almost as a boon rather than a nuisance. A little harder thinking probably would class it as not merely a nuisance, but a danger that might lead to serious harm.
As of old, the boys or girls ring the door bell. Then, instead of running away they wait for the householder to come and greet him with the cry: “Trick or treat!”
In other words, if the house owner will take them in and entertain them for a moment or will give them some treat of apples or candy or the like, they will not put “tick-tacks” or soap on his windows nor tip his woodpile.
In plain fact it is straight New York or Chicago “graft” or “racket” in miniature. Certainly it wouldn’t be a good idea for youngsters to go in extensively for this kind of petty “blackmail” on any other date than Halloween. Neither police nor public opinion would stand for that.
3 November 1937, Daily Gazette-Times (Corvallis, OR), pg. 2, col. 5:
(To the Editor): During the Hallowe’en just past “Trick or Treat” seemed to be the war cry of those youngsters roaming the streets. (...) But this new blackmailing racket of “Trick or Treat” is not one householders should encourage by surrender. Blackmail, by children or gangsters, is still blackmail.  Is it an occupation you would have your child take up so early?
—Mrs. J. P. Matthews.
30 October 1938, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. A8:
(Photo caption—ed.)
Elio Martini, left, and Wendy Rough tie bicycle to post as prelude to Halloween.]
“Trick or treat!” is the Halloween hijacking game hundreds of Southern California youngsters will play tomorrow night as they practice streamlined versions of traditional Allhallows Eve pranks.
The preparations are simple: a bar of soap, some old films and a couple of Times funny papers clipped into confetti. From house to house the boys and girls will travel, punching doorbells with nerve-jangling peals.
“Trick or treat!” is the terse command as the householder peeks warily around the door.  “If you don’t give us something, we’ll play a trick on you.  You wouldn’t want your porch littered with paper, or your windows soaped, or a smelly roll of burning film left around, would you?”
So the diminutive Halloween goon squads are bought off with cookies, candy, tickless alarm clocks or the price of an ice cream cone.
With election but a week away it will be a field night for the Halloween billboard artists.  The more subtle pranksters already have spotted all the wind socks in their vicinity and are stuffing shirts with rumpled papers, ready to be judiciously affixed to candidates’ signboards.  Where no wind socks are available, a well blown-up paper bag will make an acceptable substitute.  Less imaginative of the costumed prowlers Monday night will be content to change the benign expressions of the pictured candidates with ferocious mustaches and beetle-browed frowns.
Although there are few gates available for modern city boys to perch on rooftops, loose kiddie cars and motor scooters can be hitched to doorknobs, trash baskets can be emptied on front lawns and flower pots can appear on chimneys.  Portable (Next column—ed.) signs that unwary filling station proprietors forget to take in always make good decorations for streetcars and city halls.
The automobile will be subjected to unusual hazards Halloween night. If the windows escape a few “nerts” and “foos” scrawled in soap or paraffin, the owner is sure to find a shirt clothespinned to the radio aerial or a stack of tin cans tied on the axle.
Of course, Halloween funsters are even now fixing lifelike dummies to be placed on busy thoroughfares just to give motorists a bad half-minute or to send police with sirens screaming to “investigate a dead body.”
Pumpkins will never lose their appeal for the very young at Halloween time. Although some of the jack-o’-lanterns now are lighted with flashlights and even wired for sound, most of the faces stick to the traditional toothy grins and triangles for eyes and noses.
It’s a grumpy citizen indeed that won’t be frightened into shrieks at the appearance of a little imp on Halloween night, attired in a spooky costume and carrying a lighted pumpkin and a rattling chain.
3 November 1938, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, pg. 13, col. 6:
STIRLING, Nov. 2—The second group primary class with their teacher held a Hallowe’en party Monday evening at the home of Mrs. William Spachman. The younger group of Hallowe’eners canvassed the town Monday evening, securing treats in answer to their demands of “Treats or Tricks.” 
13 October 1952, Sheboygan (WI) Journal, “City-Wide Children’s program Being Planned For Hallowe’en,” pg. 14, col. 4:
They will outline plans for a community-wide “Tricks or Treats” campaign in which children will collect coins for the United nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. 
30 October 1952, Sheboygan (WI)

Press, “3,000 Local Children to Aid UNICEF,” pg. 1, col. 8: 
... “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” campaign ...
10 October 1953, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, “Oshkosh Children Learn New ‘Trick or Treat’ Twist,” pg. 8, col. 2:
Halloween plans for 1953 aren’t waiting for the frost to be on the pumpkin. In fact, they’ve been building up ever since children in the United States last fall turned the traditional goblin night into a nationwide “Trick or Treat for All the World’s Children” by collecting cents for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
Penn State Daily Collegian (October 28, 1954)
Churches Plan
“Trick or Treat”
UN Collection

Albertans may have been 1st to say ‘trick or treat’
Earliest reference appeared in 1927 southern Alberta newspaper article, historian says

Danielle Nerman · CBC News · Posted: Oct 31, 2016 5:00 PM MT | Last Updated: October 31, 2016
Here is the excerpt from The Blackie Times from Nov. 3, 1927:
“Halloween gave an opportunity to the young to use up some of their surplus energy which was freely taken advantage of. Threshing outfits, wagons, old autos, barrels, etc., decorated the front streets and buildings were overturned, while front and back doors were invaded and inmates held up by the awful word “Trick or Treat” from the youthful invaders who carried ...” (End of the shown snippet.—ed.)
Word History
‘Trick or Treat’: A History
A tale of candy, costumes, and divine mischief

30 Oct 2019
Popik’s research traces early iterations of the term to the northwestern part of North America, specifically the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan: ...

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, September 18, 2008 • Permalink

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