Antedating of "Trick or Treat"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 3 14:24:30 UTC 2004

trick or treat (OED 1947)

1934 _Helena Daily Independent_ ( 2 Nov. 4  Pretty
Boy John Doe rang the door bells and his gang awaited his signal.  It was
his plan to proceed cautiously at first and give a citizen every
opportunity to comply with his demands before pulling any rough stuff.
"Madam, we are here for the usual purpose, 'trick or treat.'"  This is the
old demand of the little people who go out to have some innocent fun.
Many women have some apples, cookies or doughnuts for them, but they call
rather early and the "treat" is given out gladly.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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