Halloween Apples!

October 28th, 2009 by Emma Durand-Wood

I’m excited for my first opportunity to distribute Halloween candy to Winnipeg kids this coming Saturday! Why? Well, aside from my personal “one for me, one for the kids” candy distribution rule, I’m looking forward to whether any visiting trick or treaters say “Halloween Apples!”

According to my trusty “Manitoba Book of Everything” this is what kids here often say instead of “Trick or Treat!”. I’d never heard of it until I moved here, and sort of have the idea that it might be something people used to say (see  Aaron Schwartz remembers Halloween in Ashern, MB and Willy Cole remembers Halloween in East Selkirk, MB) but do they anymore? I’ll find out!

Growing up in Alberta we said “Trick or Treat!”, but also joked around with a little song that went “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat” – how charming, now that I think of it.

Did you grow up saying “Halloween Apples”?  Or something else?

46 Responses to “Halloween Apples!”

  1. Sean says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “halloween apples” in Winnipeg so I think that it is a pretty old saying.

    I grew up in southern Ontario so I said “trick or treat”. The biggest difference there was we would ring the doorbell and wait for the door to open before saying “trick or treat”. My first Halloween here was rather weird with scores of children yelling outside my door.

  2. Marianne says:

    My sister and I grew up saying Halloween Apples, sometimes interchanged with Trick or Treat. This is yet another thing I didn’t realize was a Manitobanism until you guys told me – thanks for filling me in! 🙂

  3. I grew up in Ashern! Random. I said Halloween Apples all the time!

  4. “Halloween apples” all the way. Rarely heard “trick or treat” — maybe just on American TV. It is odd that that’s a Winnipeg/Manitoba thing. May be generational. I was out for Halloween in the 70’s.

  5. Norm says:

    The version I remember was “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat, not too big, not too small, just the size of Montreal”

    I never really knew what a treat the size of Montreal would be like – something suggests to me that it would be virtually impossible…

  6. mungman says:

    As a kid it was always Halloween apples, and you never used the doorbell. You just yelled louder until they answered 😉

  7. mrchristian says:

    Maybe it’s an NK thing, too. We always called “Hallowe’en App-pulz !” at the door ! Man, would we be p.o.’d if someone gave us an apple !

  8. Ruth says:

    I grew up in Dauphin in the late 80s/early nineties and it was always Trick or Treat. Possibly with the rhyme as well!

  9. linds_c_m says:

    It’s always been Hallowe’en Apples. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve heard the kids really switch to Trick or Treat.

  10. Barb says:

    Mainly Halloween Apples in my neighbourhood when I was growing up although we starting using it less as we got older. The seniors just assumed that you REALLY wanted apples and that’s what you would get. 🙁 They weighed a ton and would all get thrown out when you got home.

  11. Gepinniw says:

    We always said Trick or Treat or Hallowe’en Apples, in about equal measure. I liked the sound of Haloween Apples better (accent on “ween” and “pulz”).
    My funniest Winnipeg Hallowee’en memory is some crazy guy on our street giving out toast!

  12. Until I dated a girl from out of province, I never knew our traditional cry of “Hallowe’en Apples” to be colloquial…

  13. Trick or treat and halloween apples for this guy! great blog!

  14. david says:

    I grew up in winnipeg and of course it was Halloween Apples. As an earlier poster said, you would say it louder and louder until the door was answered. Moving out of Winnipeg, you heard nothing but trick or treat, so that was really odd to me. I have lived all across Canada and never run into the great saying we said in Winnipeg. Maybe slightly ahead of our time?!
    I hope the custom is fading away, as it is a great saying for a great city to be proud of.

  15. david says:

    I hope the custom ISN’T fading away – is what that should say – sheesh proofread!

  16. mrchristian says:

    Ha ! Toast ! That’s great.

    So, Emma. What was the outcome?!

  17. Emma says:

    Thanks for the input, everyone. I am a bit sad to report that although we had close to 100 kids, not one of them said “Halloween Apples”! It sounds like a revival of the saying is in order 🙂

  18. Josh says:

    I grew up in Edmonton and it was nothing but “Halloween Apples”…and with no MB connection. I haven’t heard it in years. Good times.

  19. Ryan says:

    That’s funny. Perhaps in Winnipeg we hold on to things more antiquated for a little longer… take for example all the random small-scale examples of modern architecture that have stuck around for this long: “the wave” style Safeways, anyone? too bad they’re being torn down… the route of Halloween Apples too, it seems.

  20. saurabh says:

    I grew up in New Jersey in the US, and we had that smell-my-feet rhyme there, too. Must be a genetic legacy of being human.

  21. Bob Armstrong says:

    I know I’m late to this, but I agree that this is a generational, rather than purely Manitoba, difference. I went “Halloweening” in Alberta from 1965- 66 and from 1969 to 73 or 74 and we said Halloween Apples. Trick or Treat, and Trick or Treating, replaced Halloween Apples and Halloweening, probably due to the influence of American television.

  22. Neil says:

    I too grew up in Edmonton in the ’60s and it was “Halloween Apples” all over town – sung, no less, to a minor third interval. There was not a “Trick or Treat” to be heard, and definitely no ringing of doorbells. A friend of mine who grew up in Calgary tells me that he too used to say “Halloween Apples”. Anyone else from Calgary care to comment?

    Anyway, could it be a Prairie thing? How about you Saskatchewanites (? I just realized that after 50 years I still don’t know what to call you! Is that correct?)

    I’m sad to hear that it is being replaced by “Trick or Treat”, that always seemed to me to be an American saying…

  23. Bart says:

    In Regina in the 60s and 70s I heard “Halloween Ap-ples!” with a distinctive tune — C, C, C, A, C. Personally I hated it and much preferred Trick or Treat. There were debates at school about which was correct, better, first, etc. but nobody had any actual information, just opinions.

  24. Anthony G says:

    Very funny… I am a Winnipeg ex-part in Toronto and I was at a house party recently talking halloween, and when i mentioned singing “Halloween Apples” as a kid, everyone looked at me like I was crazy. We determined it “must be a winnipeg thing” and this post (and comments) confirms that!

  25. Liz says:

    The kids came knocking or rang the doorbell tonight in BC. Nobody called ‘Trick or Treat’ or ‘Hallowe’en Apples’. They don’t seem to do either here.
    Going out for Hallowe’en in Winnipeg in the ’30s (yes, that’s right) it was always HALLOWEEEE’EN AAPULLS. Considering how difficult it is to grow apples easily on The Prairies one has to wonder why we said that????? We sure had fun though.

  26. Emma says:

    I heard my first “Halloween Apples” last night – only one in a sea of “Trick or Treat”. But even then, lots of kids just shuffled up to the door, pillow cases outstretched. Hrumpf. Kids these days!

  27. June says:

    Grew up in Edmonton Alberta in the 50’s and 60’s….Halloween Apples…was mainly what we said in a singing type voice…also did the Trick or Treat…smell your fight one the odd time.

  28. LA says:

    It was mostly Hallowe’en apples (with the accent at the end of each word). It had a sing song sort of appeal. We also used trick or treat every once in a while. I remember thinking that trick or treat sounded much more demanding than calling out Hallowe’en apples. Winnipeg is the only city in which I went trick or treating.

  29. Bob says:

    The sing-song ‘Halloween Apples’ was most common in Calgary when I grew up in the 60’s/70’s, now entirely replaced with ‘trick or treat’ or just thumping on the door. Used to be pretty common in Saskatchewan too apparently, so maybe it was a prairie thing.

  30. Jill says:

    We always sang “Halloween Apples” back in the 70’s to mid 80’s.
    “Trick or Treat” was considered rude (at least by my parents), but we all knew the “Trick or Treat, smell my feet song”. I did hear other kids use “Trick or Treat”. We would “sing” first, and then knock or ring the doorbell if we didn’t get a timely response.
    My partner lived in various small AB towns back in the 70s, he said “Trick or Treat” but heard other kids using “Halloween Apples”.

    I will ask my parents about their Halloweens, in small Manitoba towns; Morris, Dominion City and Birch River back in the 50’s-60s.

  31. Tracey says:

    I moved to Winnipeg in 1978 and lived there until 1980 and moved back to my home province of Oontario. This was the first time I had ever heard the saying “Halloween Apples” but I went along with it and my other friends as we went door to door trick or treating. It was something I have always remembered. So yes I did say Halloween Apples!

  32. I am from Edmonton, AB and we always sang Halloween Apples. My friend in BC never heard of it.
    I would like to know where and when it started. Let me know as I am researching this right now.

  33. Connie says:

    We always said Halloween Apples. Now that I give out my own goodies at the door I was surprised to only hear Trick or Treat.

  34. Allan says:

    In the 60’s in Saskatchewan it was HALLOWEEN APPLES Halloween Now catching on in Australia and it’s Trick or Treat…..

  35. Jane says:

    Halloween apples all the way!!
    From Winnipeg, grew up in North Kildonan and River Heights!

  36. Binky says:

    Many years ago, after moving from Wpg to Toronto to NY & finally settling in Connecticut, I took my little girl out for Halloween & sang “Halloween Apples” at the 1st house. The other mums looked at me like I was completely insane!!! No one has ever heard of it in the Excited States :/

  37. Rhiannon says:

    I grew up in Edmonton, AB and it was always Halloween Apples – I heard that up till I moved away in the 90s actually. So it’s obviously not only a Winnipeg thing. I accept that people might not say it anymore, as I moved out of Edmonton 18 years ago and I haven’t been back there at Halloween since.

  38. Birdsong says:

    Lived in Winnipeg from 1978 to 1982 and heard mostly “Halloween Apples.” I always thought it sounded so cute but never realized it was a prairie saying until recently. I now live in Washington state, by the way.

  39. SuzyQ says:

    I grew up in Edmonton saying “Halloween Apples”, sometimes intermixed with trick or treat

  40. Bill says:

    Oh the memories yelling Halloween apples. Live on the west coast now my nefew was here on Halloween and everyone laughed at him when he called out Halloween apples so funny he was so embarrassed

  41. Marty says:

    I was going from door-to-door with only friends from St. Vital where I lived, in the years from, I guess, 1955 – 65 (I was born in 1953). We only ever called out “Halloween Apples”! Only later, did I learn about this Trick or Treat rant and I thought right then it sounded very “Amar-i-kin” !! When the UNICEF boxes came out, we were stymied a bit, but we would yell, “Halloween Apples For UNICEF!!! We got both. Funny that, cause apples were the last thing that we wanted. Give us CANDY!!! My older sister was 8 years older than me so she would have been the socializing agent in the use of this rant, so take it from there. “Halloween Apples” has been around for a long, long time and is maybe a Winnipeg thang!!

  42. Marianna says:

    I grew up in winnipeg from age 5 in 1967 and the only thing I ever chanted on Halloween was “Halloween Apples!”

  43. mark says:

    grew up in Calgary in the 70s and early 80s, and we said Trick or Treat, and Halloween apples.

  44. Pat says:

    I grew up in Winnipeg in the early 50’s. We sang Hallowe’en Apples and sometimes had to sing a song to get a treat. The native people used to come in with horse and wagon and came around at the end of the night to get apples. My mother used to make a lot of applesauce from our apples.

  45. Tim says:

    I grew up in Calgary in the early 60s and it was always Halloween apples. Then we moved to the United States Southern California and my first Halloween I was saying Halloween apples and people wanted to know what was wrong with me? Immediately switch to trick or treat been that way ever since. Talking to my family recently and telling them about childhood in Canada and they could have believed the Halloween apples was a real thing thanks for proving them wrong. This Is Halloween 2018 Southern California

  46. Tico Smyth says:

    In Thunder Bay (then Fort William and Port Arthur) in the 1950s and 60s, we said “Hallowe’en treats please” sung to C C C A A. Never heard “Hallowe’en apples” until I moved to Edmonton in 1975. Toronto and Ottawa are almost purely “Trick or treat”, but somehow the meaning of “trick” has been lost. It used to mean “Give me some treats or I’ll play a trick on you” — soaping or egging your windows, for example. These days some kids think that they have to DO a trick, e.g. a little dance, rather than PLAY a trick.

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