Parties and parades figure into it, and there's something to be said for dressing up as something slightly more ridiculous than your usual ridiculous self. But, for some of us, Halloween begins and ends with It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. A classic treatment of the hazards and rewards of disappointment, the half-hour TV special has been a hallmark of the season since it first aired in 1966. This year it's set to show on ABC tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 30) at 8 p.m. EST. Here's what you might consider setting out for snacks while viewing.
Who could forget the scene in which Lucy bobs for apples and winds up tugging at one chomped on the opposite side by none other than Snoopy. "My lips touched dog lips--poison dog lips!," she screams. Of the many perturbances that set Lucy off, this is the one that unhinges her the most. But it's not the apple's fault. It looks like a nice red delicious in the show, but discerning snackers would be better served by the variety known as honeycrisp, which tastes almost embarrassingly sweet and boasts a light firmness ideal for bobbing.
Who would have thought that a promissory note regarding one's intention to hold a football in place to be kicked would need to be notarized? Certainly not Charlie Brown, who winds up flat on his back after Lucy messes with his head and yanks the elusive pigskin away yet again. It's a sad and awful moment that can be made even more sad and awful with the right kind of pork rinds (read: any kind in a shiny bag from a sketchy deli or convenience store). They're the closest you'll get to an edible football--and they're considerably closer than any foodstuff should be.
There's only one brand of pizza that will work here: Red Baron. Not because it's especially good (though, for frozen pizza, it's not bad), but for the menacing reference in its name to Snoopy's crafty nemesis. Dressed for Halloween as a World War I flying ace, Snoopy lights out across psychedelic skies to take on the Red Baron, who gets the better of him in what could only be called a harrowing dogfight. Surprisingly, the manufacturer of Red Baron Frozen Pizza maintains an actual squadron of old biplanes that have flown in air shows since 1979. To wit, from the company's web site: "Red Baron® pizza meets the needs of today's families by providing family meal solutions and entertainment with the Red Baron Squadron® pilots and exciting ground elements."
So invincible are the Red Baron's skills that Snoopy actually gets shot down and winds up wandering behind enemy lines through a fantasized French countryside in search of rescue. As he slinks through the muck and tiptoes past road signs pointing to Chalons-sur-Marne, you can all but smell the French bread in the air. To match the mood, try a baguette as fresh as you can find. They're a touch sweet inside and significantly crusty, so the struggle to tear off a piece will be rewarded for those who persevere.
Out with his "friends" in an ill-cut ghost costume with way too many eyes, Charlie Brown gets a rock instead of candy in his trick-or-treat bag three separate times. The way he intones, "I got a rock" over and over says a lot about his capacity for disillusionment. Putting out a snack bowl full of rocks--especially brown ones that look like caramel--might tell you a lot about your friends' capacity for same. If they actually bite into one, they might even be wont to yell the greatest Great Pumpkin line of all, delivered to a quivering Linus by Sally as she realizes she's wasted her entire Halloween night sitting in a stupid pumpkin patch: "You owe me restitution!"