Forget dooking for apples, modern Halloween traditions involve eating cake and drinking cocktails, says Gaby Soutar

In recent years, Halloween has become yet another excuse to eat.

Published 29th Oct 2021
Updated 12 th Sep 2023

This week, my hunger has been invoked by Instagram pictures of impressively ghoulish cupcakes, haunted biscuits, and sinister cocktails.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an enthusiast. After all, each of my years are measured by a chronological cycle of haggis, chocolate eggs, picnics, birthday cake, brandy butter and black buns.

Some of my earliest food memories involve Halloween, especially at Brownies, circa 1982. In a cold church hall, my troop attempted to eat scones that were coated in black treacle and dangling from a washing line, while we kept our hands behind our backs. This Scottish tradition isn’t much fun, but I still get Proustian cravings for that black sugary stuff. If only there had been an eating badge, it would’ve got pride of place on the arm of my brown shirt.

I was even less of a fan of the apple dooking. Nobody likes it, if you live in fear of a sibling.

You know they’re always itching to apply pressure to the back of your head while you’re leaving tooth marks in the bobbing Braeburns and getting water up your nose. Perhaps that’s why the tradition is dying out, or maybe it’s because apples are less of a treat since the advent of Haribo.

At this time of year, it’s also traditional for those over a certain age to complain about neepie lanterns being usurped by US-style pumpkins. To be fair, turnips never had a chance, with their grey faces and the strange sweetly fusty smell that emanated once you’d inserted your tea-light. The pumpkin is the good-looking cousin. They won. We have to let it go.

We’ll probably see a few of these on Sunday, when I go guising – not trick or treating – with my nieces and nephew.

Back in the day, I only accepted cold hard cash when I was going door-to-door in my bin-bag, but they sing and tell jokes for sweets and chocolate.

As I usually write some of their material, this auntie will be sure to take a 30 per cent cut.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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