Trick or Treating consisted of going to every door on our block (with Mom or Dad along), and ringing the bell to demand candy. I'm sure there had to be a code the parents knew telling them which doors to leave alone, but I was little and I never knew about it. And, for older kids (those mostly into the "tricking" part), I'm sure the code was just as useful -- just in an unintended fashion.
Personally, the only doors I wanted to avoid were the ones where someone's Mom was really in the spirit of the holiday. I didn't care how good the treats might be. I was completely creeped out by the thought of somebody's mother dressed and made-up to the nines with blood dripping from the corners of her mouth.
I don't have any distinct memory of when I decided trick or treating was for babies, but I suspect it was around the age of 12. At least I hope it was.
Costumes, of course, make a comeback around the time you're in college. Costume parties can be fun! And when you're a little older, you get to take things too far. I'll never forget the kid from my Freshman year in college who came dressed as Jackie Kennedy...immediately after leaving Parkland Hospital. It was...colorful. 'Nuf said.
If any of the above make it sound like I've got a prejudice against "store-bought" costumes, nothing could be further from the truth. All I ask is that there's a little imagination or effort or both involved.
This is a fine costume:
This is not:
I don't know if things have changed for kids who grow up in cities since I never lived in the middle of one before I was 18. Trick or Treating in cities seems a little pathetic. When I was in Boston, in the Back Bay, I realized there was a tradition of throwing the kids into the car and heading to gentrified (read rich) neighborhoods so the kids could make a good haul. I saw the same thing when I lived in Brooklyn Heights.
I've never seen it in action, but I'm told that kids who live in big apartment buildings just ride the elevators from floor to floor and ring any doorbell where there are decorations.
Since moving to Ft. Greene, I've noticed that kids mostly don't go to houses. They go to the stores that are still open up on Myrtle Avenue. We tried sitting out on our front porch one year with a bowl of candy to encourage trick or treaters who walked by, but I think we just scared their parents.