ROBERT ST. JOHN: Happy Halloween – now go stick your head in that bucket

As of today, I am a little over three weeks removed from a tortuous month of veganism. I chose the month of September to endure that particular dietary agony for two reasons:
1.) It’s a month with only 30 days.
2.) Halloween is in October.
Even at 49 years old, I associate Halloween with chocolate. If a shrink were to give me a word association test with photographs, the session would go some thing like this:
Photo of a witch: “Dark chocolate”
Photo of a ghost: “White chocolate”
Photo of a jack-o-lantern: “Milk chocolate”
Photo of Bats: “Dark chocolate”
Photo of a black cat: “Kit Kat Bar”
Halloween and veganism have nothing in common, or so I thought. Yesterday, my friend Steve sent an email link to a “Vegan Halloween Tricks and Treats” page on the Vegfamily website.
The article was written by a woman named Erin Pavlina, a spiritual reader and psychic medium, who has published articles entitled, “Aunt Viola: My First Encounter with the Dead,” and “How to Spot and Get Rid of an Energy Vampire.”
Erin suggests hosting a children’s Halloween party and serving snack foods such as “veggies and dip, fruit skewers, nuts, hummus and pita, and tortilla chips with guacamole.”
Certainly a Halloween party every kid in the neighborhood will be lining up to attend.
At the party, she also suggests serving “dinner” foods such as: “tofu dogs, veggie burgers, or vegan pizza.” I’ve had vegan pizza, and please know I am not exaggerating when I say soy cheese on pizza tastes like vomit. Hosting a kid’s party with soy cheese pizza will do nothing more than guarantee that your child gets beaten up twice a week until he graduates.
When it comes to party activities, Pavlina suggests the kids “bob for apples.” That is where I would have to put my foot down. Even if I were still living as a vegan, I wouldn’t let my kids bob for apples.
“Timmy, eat all of the soy-cheese pizza and hummus you want, but don’t you ever let me catch you sticking your head in that apple bobbing bucket.”
Apple bobbing might be second only to lawn darts in the category of strange and dangerous kid activities.
My elementary school used to have apple bobbing, but that was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Parents didn’t care what kids did back then.
Here’s the quick rundown for those lucky enough not to have ever bobbed for apples. Apple bobbing is an activity in which a large aluminum bucket, similar to a horse trough, is filled with water and then loaded with a few dozen apples.
The apples float because they are less dense than the water. Kids stick their heads in the water trying to bite an apple. This all sounds fun and harmless, and it is, as long as you are the first kid with his head in the bucket. Because when it comes to apple bobbing, if you aren’t the first bobber, you get a mouthful of slobber.
Anyone who attended a school Halloween carnival before 1980 remembers what the water looked like after a few hours of sweaty, dirty kids sticking their faces into that bucket. And to what end? The grand prize – an apple.
A vegan Halloween? I’d rather be tricked than end up with those kinds of treats.
Robert St.John is a restaurateur, chef
and author of the newly released “Dispatches
From My South.” This week’s
recipe for Apple Cobbler can be found at


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