About 16 years ago, Peter Geiger decided to hand out oversized candy bars to the neighborhood kids who trick-or-treated at his door. He’s always enjoyed getting a big haul on Halloween and thought other kids would as well.
Then he started offering multiple bars to kids who knew the secret password he’d announced on the radio.
Then he added a haunted garage.
Between 380 and 475 people, 2,400 candy bars, one spooky night a year. Geiger loves Halloween.
Name: Peter Geiger
Job: Executive vice president, Geiger; Editor, Farmers’ Almanac
What do you do for Halloween? This is my favorite day of the year because it is about family and fun. I hand out “giant” candy bars to all who come to my door. I appear on WMME radio (92 Moose) in the morning (Oct. 29 this year) and announce the “secret password.” If any child knows the password they get three bars and can choose from 16 varieties. I also have a haunted house in my garage with fog, blood and guts — the usual. So kids line up at one door for candy and exit another door spooked — the way it should be.
Why do it? When I was young, my brother Gene (Mr. Organized) would map out the town with all the houses that gave the biggest and best candy. We’d clean up with at least two supermarket bags full of treats. So I put myself in the place of today’s trick-or-treater. Where can someone go where the candy is huge and plentiful?
How did the candy password come about? One Halloween I was being interviewed by Jon James on Moose radio in Augusta when we started talking about the “good old days” and how you could get really big candy bars. So I said that I would hand out big bars that night and I did. The next year, I decided to offer multiple bars if the kids knew the “secret password” only made known during my three hours on the radio with Jon James. A boy named Ryan called in and said, “Mr. Geiger is cool and he lives on Brentwood Avenue,” so the word was out as to exactly where to go for the candy. What started as giving out big candy bars grew to getting triple bars when each child relates the “secret password.”
What kind of passwords do you like to use? Passwords usually tie into the Farmers’ Almanac. A third-grader in Ohio once checked my almanac’s weather accuracy and reported that “The Farmers’ Almanac is so accurate that it is almost spooky.” That became my password that year. Another time it might be the winter forecast for the year. One year it was “Rommel for Gabon” — a Bates College student. I liked the name and it was difficult to remember and harder to pronounce.
What kind of candy are we talking here? Smarties, Snickers or sugar free gum? No, we are talking about the real stuff — Kit Kats, M&Ms, Reese’s, Three Musketeers, Snickers, to name a few. I usually have about 16 types of candy. I also have a special stash of little bars for the 1-year-olds who have a little round plastic pail. The big bars don’t fit, so they get a fist full of mini soft candy.
You were the kind of kid who designed his own mega-cool costumes and won every Halloween contest he entered, weren’t you? No — I just wanted to get the candy. NO parties. My mother would make some outfit, but, for me, it was a means to the end.
How many people usually come to your house for Halloween? Depending upon the weather I will have between 380 and 475. Since it is a deadend street, traffic backs up. Actually, anyone who comes gets candy. In fact, once a couple of elderly ladies showed up, so my rule is “kids of all ages as long as you have your own teeth.”
From how far away do people come? Lisbon, Turner, Poland. One year a couple told me they moved to Lisbon Falls in July and the first thing their neighbor said is, “You have to go to Pete Geiger’s house for Halloween.” Now that is being neighborly.
Do you have to spend a month peeling grapes for fake eyeballs? No, but I spend the entire year saving all my change and cashing it in to buy the candy. It isn’t cheap. But it is my investment in the economy for area dentists.
The best part of Halloween: costumes, candy, or drippy fake blood? I live for this day of the year. The best is just seeing children show up in huge groups and with their parents. I added the haunted garage about six years ago and that is just a bonus extra. It isn’t overly fancy — just spooky.
Pssst. What’s this year’s candy password? We won’t tell. Promise. The word is out. The 2011 password is “I LOVE the Farmers’ Almanac.” Rather than an automatic three candy bars, the more passion in this password, the more candy one gets.