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By Molly Blake

To come home with the biggest bag of candy this Halloween, you've got to be willing to be a little devil.

Ava Ramsdale has a game plan in place for Halloween’s main event. Never mind that her mom was still hunting for her costume accessories at the 11th hour, 10-year old Ramsdale knows exactly which Palo Alto, California doorbell she will ring first.

“There’s a lady who works for Yahoo,” said Ramsdale, a 4th grader. “She gives out the full size boxes of candy.”

“Like the ones you get at the movies,” said Ramsdale, holding her hands up to show exactly how big.

NextDoor treat app
NextDoor's trick-or-treat-mapping app.Today

“I need to go there,” said her friend Helen, her eyes widening. “Seriously.”

Besides targeting high-powered executives in this day and age there must be a high-tech trick or treating tactic to ensure an overflowing pillowcase.

Lynn Felter, a mother of three boys, says no.

“There’s actually a trick or treating app,” said Felter referring to Nextdoor’s Neighborhood Treat app that shows whether a home is offering candy or not, “but my boys are too busy sprinting from house to house to stop and look at their phones.”

Kimberly Toppel‘s daughter is going for speed as well. Dressed as a zombie, she plans on running from house to house in her Louisville, KY neighborhood in order to gather the most candy. Connecticut mom Molly Smith says her boys, who are dressing as two bananas and a grim reaper, swear by zigzagging. “They cover more ground that way,” she said.

Others, like Amy Cronan, mother of two, take the trick part a tad more literally.

Candy sort
Connecticut Boys Carter and Hayden Smith sort and graph their Halloween candy haul in this photo from 2013.Today

As a child growing up in North Carolina, Cronan would periodically dump her candy in her brother’s treat bag making it appear, to unsuspecting neighbors, that the pig-tailed, pink unicorn’s bag was frightfully empty.

“They felt sorry for me,” said Cronan, who, along with her accomplice, hauled in gobs of candy year after year. She also sheepishly admits to returning home and changing into a California Raisin costume, “because it covered my face,” and hitting the streets for round two.

“I only did that once,” said the Marine Corps spouse.

Urban candy hunters must get crafty too.

Mike Avila, a TV producer in New York City, carefully selects a favorable apartment building, “typically one with a doorman and at least 25 floors.”

Because of the sheer numbers of doors to knock on, “the odds are in your favor to score a huge haul,” said Avila.

From there, Avila and his two daughters, 15-month old Talia and 4-year old Alexia, head home and ride the elevator up to the top floor of their Upper West Side building and work their way down.

“We take the stairs to get ahead of the crowds,” said Avila.

In any case, the real winners are, of course, the parents. Especially when they add a touch of the mischievous spirit of the season.

Stephanie Himel-Nelson hopes her neighbors will fall in love with her “adorable 10-month old dressed as a turtle,” and hand out candy proportionate to the toothless turtle’s cuteness.

“I plan on raiding his bag after I put him to bed,” said Himel-Nelson.

If that’s not bad enough, Vishwa Chandra, aSan Francisco-based consultant, takes his two fluffy white dogs, dressed as Batman and Robin, trick or treating. Just he, his wife and their dogs hit the streets. 

When they return, loot in hand, Chandra said, “I take one for the team and polish off their haul.” It's okay, he said, because "dogs can't eat candy."

(Don't know what to do with all that candy once you've got it? Here's 7 ways to turn your leftover goodies into over-the-top treats.)

Molly Blake is a California-based freelance writer. Find her online at