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halloween

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1. Halloween is still the Wiccan New Year.

Halloween originates from a Celtic tradition called Samhain, a festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. They believed it was a time that spirits or fairies could enter our world, and the Celts would put out treats and food to placate the spirits – sometimes, a place at the table was even set for the souls of the dead.

Wiccans still celebrate Samhain as a New Year celebration today.

2. The moniker “Halloween” comes from the Catholics.

Hallowmas is a three-day Catholic holiday where saints are honored and people pray for the recently deceased. At the start of the 11th century, it was decreed by the pope that it would last from October 31 (All Hallow’s Eve) until November 2, most likely because that was when Samhain was celebrated and the church was trying to convert the pagans.

3. Dressing up on Halloween comes from the Celts.

Celts believed Samhain was a time when the wall between our world and the paranormal world was porous and spirits could get through. Because of this belief, it was common for the Celts to wear costumes and masks during the festival to ward off or befuddle any evil spirits.

“All Hallow’s Eve” then evolved into “All Hallow’s Even,” and by the 18th century it was commonly referred to as “Hallowe’en.”

4. Halloween symbols aren’t random.

Black cats, spiders, and bats are all Halloween symbols because of their spooky history and ties to Wiccans. All three were thought to be the familiars of witches in the middle ages, and are often associated with bad luck.

Bats are even further connected to Halloween by the ancient Samhain ritual of building a bonfire, which drove away insects and attracted bats.

5. We should carve turnips, not pumpkins.

The origin of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from a Celtic folk tale of a stingy farmer named Jack who would constantly play tricks on the devil. The devil responded by forcing him to wander purgatory with only a burning lump of coal from hell. Jack took the coal and made a lantern from a turnip, using it to guide his lost soul.

The myth was brought over by Irish families fleeing the potato famine in the 1800s, and since turnips were hard to come by in the US, America’s pumpkins were used as a substitute to guide lost souls and keep evil spirits like “Jack of the Lantern” away.

Dressing up on Halloween comes from the Celts

Dressing up on Halloween comes from the Celts

6. Halloween and the candy industry supposedly influenced Daylight Savings Time.

Candy makers supposedly lobbied to extend daylight savings time into the beginning of November to get an extra hour of daylight so children could collect even more candy (thus forcing people to purchase more sweets to meet the demand).

They wanted it so badly that during the 1985 hearings on daylight saving time, they put candy pumpkins on the seat of committee members, according to NPR. (The candy industry disputes this account, according to The New York Times.)

7. Candy Corn was originally known as “chicken feed.”

Invented by George Renninger, a candy maker at the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s, Candy Corn was originally called “butter cream candies” and “chicken feed” since back then, corn was commonly used as food for livestock (they even had a rooster on the candy boxes).

It had no association with Halloween or fall, and was sold seasonally from March to November. After World War II, advertisers began marketing it as a special Halloween treat due to its colors and ties to the fall harvest.

8. Fears of poisoned Halloween candy are unfounded.

One of parents’ biggest fears is that their child’s Halloween candy is poisoned or contains razor blades.

In reality, this fear is almost entirely unfounded. There are only two known cases of poisoning, and both involved relatives, according to LiveScience. In 1970, a boy died of a heroin overdose. The investigators found it on his candy, but in a twist they later discovered the boy had accidentally consumed some of his uncle’s heroin stash, and the family had sprinkled some on the candy to cover up the incident.

Even more horrifically, in 1974 Timothy O’Bryan died after eating a Pixy Stix his father had laced with cyanide to collect on the insurance money, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

And now, parents in Colorado are worried about their children eating candy infused with marijuana.

9. Trick-or-treating has been around for a long time.

Versions of trick-or-treating have existed since medieval times. In the past, it was known as “guising” where children and poor adults went around in costumes during Hallowmas begging for food and money in exchange for songs or prayers. It was also called “souling.”

10. Trick-or-treating as we know it was re-popularized by cartoons.

Trick-or-treating was brought to America by the Irish and became popular during the early 20th century, but died out during WWII when sugar was rationed. After the rationing ended in 1947, children’s magazine Jack and Jill, radio program The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and the Peanuts comic strip all helped to re-popularize the tradition of dressing up in costumes and asking for candy from door-to-door.

By 1952, trick-or-treating was hugely popular again.

11. Halloween is the second-most commercial American holiday of the year.

The candy industry in America rakes in an average of $2 billion annually thanks to Halloween (that’s 90 million pounds of chocolate).

Americans spend an estimated $6 billion on Halloween annually, including candy, costumes, and decorations, according to History.com.

The most commercial holiday in the US is obviously Christmas.

12. A full moon on Halloween is extremely rare.

Though a common trope in horror movies and Halloween decorations with witches flying across the full moon, it’s actually extremely uncommon for the monthly event to coincide with October 31, or any other date, for that matter.

The next full moon on Halloween won’t occur until 2020. The most recent Halloween full moon was back in 2001, and before that it was in 1955.

13. There’s a $1,000 fine for using or selling Silly String in Hollywood on Halloween.

The prank product has been banned in Hollywood since 2004 after thousands of bored people would buy it on the streets of Hollywood from illegal vendors and “vandalize” the streets. The city ordinance calls for a maximum $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail for “use, possession, sale or distribution of Silly String in Hollywood from 12:01 AM on October 31 to 12:00 PM on November 1.”

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Patrick Stewart shared the story behind his Halloween lobster costume on The Daily Show.

Patrick Stewart, 73, has become something of a social media sensation of late – especially when it comes to posting wacky things on his Twitter account.

The veteran actor caused a stir when he shared a picture of himself dressed as a lobster to wish his followers a happy Halloween.

Patrick Stewart has become something of a social media sensation with his Halloween lobster costume

Patrick Stewart has become something of a social media sensation with his Halloween lobster costume

Patrick Stewart opened with a poignant line about the Rob Ford and Rand Paul scandals that knocked Jon Stewart back. Jon Stewart quickly turned the conversation away from world politics because he wanted to know everything about the lobster costume.

Patrick Stewart’s Halloween getup has a sweet story behind it, but it still managed to earn him some blowback from the hardcore crustacean fanboy community on Twitter.

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Ellen DeGeneres decided to pay tribute to Nicki Minaj on her Halloween episode of her talk show.

The outfit made headlines during Nicki Minaj’s guest appearance in September.

Ellen DeGeneres decided to pay tribute to Nicki Minaj on her Halloween episode of her talk show

Ellen DeGeneres decided to pay tribute to Nicki Minaj on her Halloween episode of her talk show

Ellen DeGeneres: “This year I decided to go as something really scary … Nicki was on the show a few weeks ago and her shirt was not … she took our show from PG to double D, that’s what she did!”

 

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Jimmy Kimmel decided to try Snow White costume for his Halloween show.

His Snow White costume was his best Jimmy Kimmel Live getup since he dressed up as Jay Leno in 2010.

Jimmy Kimmel decided to try Snow White costume for his Halloween show

Jimmy Kimmel decided to try Snow White costume for his Halloween show

Jimmy Kimmel’s guest, Mindy Kaling, meanwhile, turned up as Peter Pan’s nemesis — though Kimmel initially took her for Prince.

The two sat down to talk about their childhood Halloween costumes.

Jimmy Kimmel seems to know where his bread is buttered: His show airs on Disney-owned ABC, and his theater is owned by the Walt Disney Company. So no one will poison his apple at this year’s company Christmas party.

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Ghastly webs with giant black spiders adorned an orange-hued White House on Thursday, slithering down from the Truman Balcony along the South Portico, where haystacks and nearly 200 pumpkins dotted the lawn for the annual White House Halloween event.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes waiting diligently to hear the president’s response to an eerie query: Trick or treat?

It was treats – thousands of packages of jelly beans, dried fruit and White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookies – that Barack and Michelle Obama handed children as they walked across the South Lawn, past stilt-walkers, jugglers and a giant, transparent bubble housing Glinda the Good Witch, who brandished her magic wand in true Wizard-of-Oz fashion.

Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes

Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes

Fog billowed across the lawn, obscuring the Washington Monument in the distance as children and their parents mingled with White House staffers dressed as football players, vampires and princesses. A brass band of white-faced skeletons set the mood with creepy Halloween tunes, dancing as they played alongside a family of ghosts camped out near the area where the president’s helicopter normally lifts off.

Even Barack Obama’s dogs donned costumes — no, not the real Sunny and Bo, but topiaries carved from ribbons and pipe cleaners and dressed up, Bo as a pirate and Sunny as a sunflower.

The festivities marked the return of a favorite annual tradition at the White House that had to be scrapped last year. After three straight years of passing out goodies, rain or shine, Obama and the first lady canceled the event last year because of Superstorm Sandy, which had walloped the East Coast earlier in the week.

More than 5,000 people took part in this year’s Halloween event, the White House said.

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Día De Los Muertos is one of Mexico’s traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends.

The holiday is celebrated over two days, on November 1 and 2. The roots of this celebration go back 3,000 years to pre-Hispanic cultures like the Aztecs, Mayans and Toltecas. When the Spaniards conquered Mexico, this indigenous custom was rooted so deeply that it survived centuries of European colonization.

For these ancient cultures, death wasn’t something to be feared. It was as much part of life as life itself.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) reflects this perspective. It is a happy celebration. Death is represented in whimsical, colorful ways. There is no place for weeping for this could be interpreted as offensive by the a dead relatives who are visiting gladly.

People build altars at home and at cemeteries to honor dead relatives and friends. To entice their souls to an earthly visit, they make offerings of their favorite foods and beverages. Photos of happy times and personal memorabilia of the deceased are also placed close by. The celebrations often turn humorous as family members remember funny anecdotes involving the deceased and leave items at the altar meant to remind them of such times.

Día De Los Muertos is one of Mexico's traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends

Día De Los Muertos is one of Mexico’s traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends

Calaveras, or sugar skulls, are offered as a gift to both the dead and the alive. The sweet treat can be store-bought or homemade, in which case it becomes a family activity with children and adults decorating the skulls in bright colors.

Toy Coffins. These are made to delight the returning spirits of children, also referred to as ”angelitos‘ (little angels). There are usually enough of these at any given celebration to also be offered as party favors to the children who attend.

Marigolds. Bright and sunny, these yellow flowers are as emblematic of Día de los Muertos as poinsettias are of Christmas. They are used to decorate intricate arches, wreaths and crosses adorning altars, or are simply spinkled all over them. Some people make trails of marigold petals that lead to their houses from the cemetery to help the spirits of loved ones find their way home. These trails are sometimes lit with candles that offer a soft, comforting glow.

Mezcal and Tequila. A nice tequila is smooth like a fine cognac. Living beings aren’t the only ones who enjoy it. During Día de los Muertos, tequila, mezcal and other spirits are placed at the altars. The belief is that, after such a long treck from the other side, the spirits are likely to crave a drink.

Pan de Muertos. This sweet bread is a staple of the celebrations. Children dunk it in hot chocolate and adults in café con leche. In Mexico, street vendors have it readily available during the festivities although many families make it at home following individual family recipes.

Bright colors, but especially yellow, dominate the decor at Día de los Muertos.

Skulls were powerful symbols for the Aztecs. The head was believed to be a source of power and energy. The skull decorations and costumes that abound in the Día de los Muertos celebrations aren’t meant to be spooky. They are a symbol of strength, intelligence and even vitality.

Día de Los Muertos is a time of joyful celebration and remembrance. It is also a time to come to terms with our mortality and the cycle of life and death. Rather than fear death, this ancient celebration teaches to accept our mortality while enjoying life to its fullest.

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A massive storm system could make for a rainy Halloween for trick-or-treaters across the US from New England to Texas.

The ferocious storm system was hurtling from Texas to the northeast early Thursday, threatening to lash a long arm of the US with buckets of rain and high winds as officials in three states postponed trick-or-treating to Friday.

Meteorologists warned people in the Ohio Valley, the lower Mississippi Valley and western Gulf Coast to brace for harsh gusts of wind, hail and even tornadoes – a scary forecast just in time for Halloween revelry.

Trick-or-treating has been pushed to Friday in scores of cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio – states expected to bear the brunt of the severe storm system, according to Weather.com.

The trouble was already brewing near Austin, Texas, early Thursday, where heavy train triggered flash floods, forcing scores of people from their homes amid evacuation advisories and prompting helicopter rescues, officials said.

Some areas surrounding the city were slammed by as much as 15 inches of rain, according to Austin-Travis County’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Meanwhile, emergency crews staged 15 water rescues across Austin and Travis counties throughout the early morning, EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said.

A massive storm system could make for a rainy Halloween for trick-or-treaters across the US from New England to Texas

A massive storm system could make for a rainy Halloween for trick-or-treaters across the US from New England to Texas

There was no reported deaths and only minor injuries early Thursday, although Warren Hassinger said there were reports from neighboring Hays and Comal Counties of people calling for help who were trapped in vehicles or clinging to trees.

The Texas Department for Public Safety said there were no firm numbers yet for the four worst affected counties of Williamson, Hays, Comel and Travis, but that there were at least 20 homes affected in Hutto, a town of more than 18,000 in Williamson County.

Austin Energy reported upwards of 12,000 customers without electric power Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press, while Wimberley Independent School District called off classes due to “extreme weather conditions,” according to its website. Schools in nearby San Marcos and Lockhart also cancelled classes amid the nasty weather and snarled traffic, the wire service reported.

The worst of the rain is over for the region, with the storm moving from west to east, according to the department.

“It will have hopefully abated by about 2 p.m. this afternoon,” a data collector at the department said.

“But the run-off is what we worry about – there’s always that danger.”

As the massive weather system barrels eastward, officials are warning people in the Midwest and Northeast to take precautions ahead of the storm.

The Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that locals should stay away from big trees and clear their sidewalks so any flooding can cut a clear path.

Heavy rain may pound the Northeast on Friday, with high wind watches posted for the Great Lakes as well as areas of southern New England and Long Island, according to the National Wather Service.

Officials have warned coastal residents to brace for possible power outages as well as felled trees and power lines, according to Weather.com.

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Halloween is all about the candy! Almost every child in the US will have candy on Halloween, and about half of the adults will eat some.

Test your knowledge of the world’s candies and check out some of our favorites here.

1. Bounty, UK

Mounds lovers will appreciate Bounty, a coconut-filled bar enrobed with milk chocolate.

2. Cheong Woo, Korea

Leave it to South Korea to come up with pumpkin candy — a mellow, slightly salty candy with a prominent squash-like flavor and the texture of Starburst. If you can track it down, it’s perfect for this time of year.

3. Baci, Italy

Hershey’s isn’t the only one with kisses — Italy has its own version, Perugina’s Baci. These chocolate bonbons are filled with hazelnut chocolate cream, topped with a whole hazelnut, and wrapped in a love note.

4. Yorkie, UK

The Yorkie bar — originally titled so because it was made by Rowntrees of York — was created in the 1970s as a larger chocolate bar alternative to Cadbury’s Dairy-Milk. To this day, the chocolate stays true to its original branding with the slogan: “It’s not for girls!”

Perugina's Baci chocolate bonbons are filled with hazelnut chocolate cream, topped with a whole hazelnut, and wrapped in a love note

Perugina’s Baci chocolate bonbons are filled with hazelnut chocolate cream, topped with a whole hazelnut, and wrapped in a love note

5. Chimes Mango Ginger Chews, Indonesia

These individually-wrapped Indonesian ginger candies in the quaint tin have a latent heat and spiciness to them, thanks to ginger that’s grown on volcanic soil in East Java.

6. ToffeeCrisp, UK

Nestlé makes a number of chocolate bars in Europe that aren’t readily available in the US. One of them is ToffeeCrisp, a staple in the UK. The long, slender milk chocolate bar is filled with crackling puffed rice and caramel. Its motto is: “Somebody, somewhere, is eating a ToffeeCrisp.”

7. Kinder Country, Germany

Kinder Country is described on the wrapper as “milk chocolate with rich milk filling.” It’s a creamy, milky white center, made crunchy with puffed rice and then doused in milk chocolate.

8. Peko Milky Candy, Japan

Peko-chan Milk Candy is commonplace among children in Japan. The individually-wrapped candies are firm yet chewy and have a distinctive sweet milk flavor.

9. Lion, UK

Another chocolate confection that hails from the UK. It was similar to a ToffeeCrisp, with caramel, crisp cereal, and a wafer enrobed in milk chocolate and reminded me of an even heartier 100 Grand.

 10. Botan Rice Candy, Japan

Even if you’ve never been to Japan, you may have come across Botan Rice Candy in Asian supermarkets. Botan, which means “peony,” is a prominent brand in Japan and makes a sticky rice candy with a slightly citrusy flavor.

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Happy Halloween 2013!

It’s no mystery that this annual night of fright is chockfull of candy, costumes and chilling decor, but do you know just how many confectionary treats are actually gobbled up on Halloween? Or the amount of cash spent to make all the macabre magic happen?

Here are some facts that will make you the brainiest of the bunch on All Hallows’ Eve:

  1. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest time to carve a face into a pumpkin is 20.1 seconds, achieved by David Finkle of the United Kingdom. He completed the feat on October 7, 2010, while filming a Halloween show for the BBC.
  2. For some towns in the US, the Halloween theme lasts all year long, thanks to their names. A few that would be especially fun to visit for the holiday: Frankenstein, Missori; Scary, West Virginia; Spook City, Colorado; and Candy Town, Ohio.
  3. No matter how scary your local haunted house is, it probably can’t top the Haunted Cave in Lewisburg, Ohio. It measures 3,564 feet long, and Guinness World Records named it the world’s longest haunted house in 2010 (until it was beaten by a haunted house in Japan in 2011). Even spookier: It’s located 80 feet below ground in an abandoned mine.
  4. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there will be 41.1 million trick-or-treaters ages 5 to 14 in America this year. Parents are expected to spend $1.04 billion on children’s costumes -and if they’re on trend, most of the cash will go toward pumpkin, princess, witch or vampire getups.
  5. Although the cards may be ghoulish, the sentiment is sweet – according to Hallmark, Halloween ranks as the sixth most popular card-giving holiday, with 19 million cards sent each year. Christmas comes in first place, with a whopping 1.6 billion cards sent each year.
  6. Halloween candy coffers wouldn’t be the same without California. Why? Because according to the US Census Bureau, the Golden State leads the nation in non-chocolate confectionary production. Out of the 409 sites that manufacture non-chocolate confections in the US, California is home to 45 of them.
    Halloween 2013

    Halloween 2013

  7. In 1950, Philadelphia-based trick-or-treaters traded in a sweet tooth for a sweet action. In lieu of candy, residents collected change for children overseas and sent it to UNICEF. Subsequently, the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program was born.
  8. Valentine’s Day is no longer the sweetest national holiday – at least when it come to candy sales. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine’s Day; 90 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Halloween week alone. In total, $1.9 billion is spent on Halloween candy each year
  9. Americans’ enthusiasm to get in the Halloween spirit just keeps growing. According to the National Retail Federation, average spending on Halloween has increased 54% since 2005, with total spending estimated to reach $6.9 billion in 2013.
  10. A working magician from the age of 17, Harry Houdini (née Ehrich Weisz) became America’s favorite magician and a world-renown legend for his daring escapes. It was only fitting, then, for this master trickster to die on October 31, 1926 – from a ruptured appendix.
  11. Since its invention in 1898 by the Herman Goelitz Confectionery Co. of Fairfield, California, (now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), candy corn has been wildly popular – so much so that today, more than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year.
  12. It was just tricks – no treats – for Charlie Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In the 1966 TV special, he utters: “I got a rock,” while trick-or-treating. The phrase went on to become one of the most famous lines in Peanuts history.
  13. Halloween wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins, and thankfully, there are plenty of gourds to go around. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2010, the top pumpkin-producing states – Illinois, California, New York and Ohio – produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins.
  14. Due to safety concerns, trunk-or-treating was introduced in 2000 as an alternative to hitting the pavement for candy on Halloween night. Cars are parked in a circle at a school or church parking lot, with event-goers decorating their open trunks and dressing in costume in order to hand out treats
  15. From its vampy costumes and sweet treats to macabre household decorations, Halloween is big business. So big, in fact, that it’s the second-largest commercial holiday in America – only Christmas surpasses it in sales.
  16. In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, became the latest city to ban trick-or-treating for kids over 12. Teens can face fines from $100 to $1,000 for going door-to-door (although according to officials, more often than not, over-age Halloween-goers are just given a warning).
  17. Got leftover Halloween candy? Save it for later! Dark and milk chocolates can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free spot. Hard candy can last up to a year, while unopened packages of candy corn can last nine months.

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According to the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, Americans spend $300 million on costumes for their pets every Halloween.

On last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, creative dog groomer Catherine Opson showed off several dogs that were painted and groomed in interesting ways for Halloween. The five different dog designs shown included a zombie, a leopard, a koi pond, Sesame Street, and The Simpsons.

On last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, creative dog groomer Catherine Opson showed off several dogs that were painted and groomed in interesting ways for Halloween

On last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, creative dog groomer Catherine Opson showed off several dogs that were painted and groomed in interesting ways for Halloween

However, the most amazing design was likely The Simpsons, which were actually displayed on two dogs. Jimmy Kimmel quipped they were the only dogs “to be sued by FOX for copyright infringement.”

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Halloween Glittery Pumpkin Cupcake

Ingredients

1 teaspoon coarse orange sanding sugar or orange sprinkles

1 vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting

1 1-inch piece green licorice twist or gummy worm

Halloween Glittery Pumpkin Cupcakes

Halloween Glittery Pumpkin Cupcakes

Directions

Place the sugar in a small bowl. Dip the cupcake in the sugar to coat. Top with the licorice to make the stem.

You don’t need be a pro to create this easy look – simply dip the cupcake into a bowl of colored sanding sugar and top with a piece of green licorice twist.

Cupcakes are the perfect choice for any celebratory occasion and can be easily transformed to make scary, yet delicious treats that will complete any Halloween party or gathering.

 

Witch hat cupcakes

 

Ingredients

For the cakes:

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 3 medium eggs (room temperature)
  • 150g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 30ml milk (room temperature)

For the buttercream:

  • 270g unsalted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • 30ml milk
  • Tangerine food colour

For the toppers:

  • 250g black fondant
  • 100g white fondant
  • Gum tragacanth (optional)
  • Black, yellow, tangerine and violet food color
    Witch hat cupcakes

    Witch hat cupcakes

Equipment:

  • 12 purple cases
  • Sharp knife
  • 1cm and 7mm square cutters (optional)
  • Small paint brush
  • Wilton 2A nozzle and piping bag (optional)
  • Large drying sponge or greaseproof paper

 

 

Method:

For the toppers:

  1. You will need to make these toppers 2 days before you actually need them in order for them to set.
  2. The day before you want to make these toppers. Add your gum tragacanth to the black fondant and knead for 5 min, adding this can sometimes dull the black color so add a touch of black food color to bring it back again. Wrap this in cling film and pop in an airtight container overnight. This is an optional step but makes the fondant easier to work with.
  3. Color 50g fondant purple and 50g yellow.
  4. Rolling the black fondant out to 3mm thick and cut 12 triangles to fit the size of your cupcakes. After cutting the triangle bend the tops slightly to give a ‘floppy’ look. Pop the triangles on a large drying sponge or a piece of greaseproof to dry while you make the straps.
  5. Roll out the purple fondant to 2mm thick and with a sharp knife cut 4mm thick straps and place ¾ of the way up the hats. Trim to size and stick with a brush of water
  6. For the buckles roll out the yellow fondant and with a sharp knife cut 12 squares using the square cutters if you have them. With a smaller square cutter, cut the centre from the larger squares. Alternatively you can cut a small square from the left over purple fondant and stick it in the centre. Stick the buckles with a brush of water in the centre of the purple straps.
  7. Leave to dry for a couple of days in a breathable box – cake or shoe boxes work well. This will make sure the hats don’t droop onto the cakes.

For the cakes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line the baking tray with 12 cases
  2. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until smooth, don’t overbeat or the batter will be greasy.
  3. Divide the batter between the 12 cases and bake for 20-25. Remove and cool in the trays for 10 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack
  4. To make the buttercream: Pop all the ingredients onto a large bowl and beat on a low speed for about 7 min until smooth.
  5. Once cooled completely, pipe or spread a ball of buttercream into the centre of the cake. If using a piping bag, hold the nozzle in the centre of the cakes and apply pressure the bag, while keeping the nozzle in the centre. If you press the tip into the buttercream as you apply pressure you’ll get a perfect ball of buttercream. Stop applying pressure when the buttercream reaches close to the cake cases.
  6. Top the buttercream with a witch hat topper.

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Halloween is all about the candy. So, make the neighborhood kids scream with delight by stocking up on this year’s best Halloween candies.

From classics chocolates to new takes on old favorites, here’s what you should be carrying in your candy bowl this All Hallow’s Eve:

1. Candy Corn Oreos

We don’t suggest you hand these out to trick-or-treaters, but you can keep them at home for a perfect end-of-the-night sweet surprise for your little ones. Serve them with a glass of milk, naturally.

2. Reese’s Pumpkins

For some reason the festive shaped Reese’s always taste the best; maybe it’s the thinner chocolate, giving you a richer peanut butter bite.

3. Candy Corn M&Ms

These M&Ms are not only your favorite type, they’re also in on the spooky spirit of this holiday.

4. Crazy Bones Lollipops

There’s no better lollipop for All Hallow’s Eve than these with their creepy bone-shaped stick. They’re a terrifically terrifying option for those who prefer non-chocolate candy.

Halloween Crazy Bones Lollipops

Halloween Crazy Bones Lollipops

5. Chocolate-Covered Pumpkin-Shaped Peeps

Peeps are generally a take-’em or leave-’em sort of candy. They melt away a little too quickly and they go stale overnight, but these new varieties are upgraded with a decadent chocolate dip. They’re now one step away from being a s’more; that’s a pretty delicious difference.

6. Annie’s Naturals Bunny Grahams

This year, that downer of a house that refuses to hand out candy gets a delicious upgrade. These organic, adorably-shaped grahams have taken on a festive flair, donning orange and black. No longer will these fun-size bags be the scourge of your candy spoils.

7. Candy Corn Pretzels

Salty-sweet treats really hit the spot, and this Halloween there’s a new option for satisfying that craving. Using the classic candy corn as a coating for salty, crunchy pretzels, these sweet treats come in fun-size packs for handing out or just pacing yourself.

8. Pumpkin Spice Break-A-Part

These satisfying sweets now come in the year’s favorite flavor, pumpkin spice. The balance of comforting spices and sweet milk chocolate might just make you forget all about those lattes.

9. Pumpkin Spice Kisses

They may be little, but they’re packed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin flavors so you can have the sweet taste of your favorite seasonal latte any time of day.

10. Dove Sea Salt & Caramel

This candy-consumption-based holiday isn’t just for kids. For a grown-up indulgence, stock up on these chocolates that pack the elegant contrast of sea salt and buttery caramel into two-bite treats.

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Looking to score an awesome and unique Halloween costume this year, but don’t want to break the bank?

Check out five delightful DIY options for your Halloween costume:

1. Mary Poppins

Practically perfect in every way, this costume is easy to throw together at the last-minute using items in your closet. The accessories are key in nailing this costume so don’t forget the red bowtie, red belt, hats, the umbrella or the broomstick.

2. Bandits

Make out like bandits with this couples costume idea. Pull this look together using striped shirts, black pants, sneakers, black hats and black gloves. The bags can be purchsed from a thift store or craft store. Use your computer to print out a stencil for the $ sign.

Bandits Halloween costumes

Bandits Halloween costumes

3. Fantastic Mr. Fox

This couples’ costume is timely and easy to make. Wear a vintage outfit so that when you put down your mask, you still look like you’re dressed in costume.

4. The Hamburgler

Have a striped dress in your closet? All you need are a few accessories to transform yourself into a hamburgler.

5. Medusa

You just need a few items to make this costume: A beige or white dress, gold accessories, sandals and rubber snakes for your hair.

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Si Robertson dressed up as a beaver for the Halloween celebration on Duck Dynasty’s season finale.

“Look, it ain’t about the costume,” Uncle Si insisted.

“It’s about the attitude.”

“You’re telling me that if you saw a beaver the size of a man, that that would not scare you?” Si Robertson said looking straight into the camera.

Si Robertson dressed up as a beaver for the Halloween celebration

Si Robertson dressed up as a beaver for the Halloween celebration

“Buck teeth the size of your head? One chomp, he’d bite your right arm off.”

But when his nephew Willie Robertson, who dressed as Freddy Krueger, failed to see the sinister side of Uncle Si’s creature feature, what with it lacking any blood, Si warned him to be patient.

“That’ll come later when I eat a kid,” he smiled.

When Duck Commander’s haunted house kicked off, Willie Robertson could be seen jumping from the swamp with a warning: “I’m a man-eating mutant beaver, and I love little children the best!”

[youtube 4tYhZM7O1j4 650]

[youtube 6l8Vxw5een0 650]

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Poisoned candy, black cats, the “unlucky” number 13 – some legendary superstitions that make your skin crawl on Halloween.

1. Halloween is the devil’s holiday

Halloween is actually derived from Celtic and Druid ritual, which is separate from Christianity – meaning “Satan” isn’t even a factor. Scholars attribute this myth to Christian fundamentalists who thought that the dark imagery associated with Halloween made it evil and the work of the devil. In all actuality, the original Halloween celebrations were dedicated to positivity, like celebrating the harvest.

2. People hand out poisoned (or otherwise tampered with) candy

Every year, parents worry about their children’s well-being when they go out to trick or treat. But maybe this will make you relax just a bit: There have only been two confirmed cases of children being killed by poisoned Halloween candy, and in both cases, they were killed intentionally by one of their parents. With those two exceptions, no child has been killed or seriously injured thanks to Halloween candy.

3. A black cat crossing your path means bad things to come

Halloween is derived from Celtic and Druid ritual, which is separate from Christianity

Halloween is derived from Celtic and Druid ritual, which is separate from Christianity

If a black cat crosses your path, well – you’re screwed. This myth originates from the idea that witches used to keep these creatures as companions and that some could even change themselves into cats. All of this is completely bogus, and in some countries and cultures (the UK, Japan and Scotland, for example), a black cat actually has a positive connotation: foreshadowing good things to come.

4. A broken mirror equals bad luck

Break a mirror and you’ll have seven years’ bad luck. This myth is derived from an idea that our ancestors had: The image in a mirror was your actual soul, and if a mirror was shattered, it meant your soul had gone astray. The only way to set it straight? Bury the pieces of broken glass.

5. The number 13 is unlucky

Could a number get a worse rep than 13? People even skip it as an official floor in many buildings, going straight from 12 to 14. But this number is just that. There’s a lot of speculation as to why 13 has been deemed unlucky, including the idea that there were 13 witches in a coven, but rest assured – it’s perfectly fine to leave your house on the 13th. Even on a Friday.

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Halloween Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

6 bell peppers, any color

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

4 slices whole wheat bread, cubed

1 small onion, chopped

1 small tomato, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Halloween Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers

Halloween Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.
  2. Lightly mix together the ground beef, egg, bread cubes, onion, tomato, garlic, chili sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Wash the peppers, and cut jack-o’-lantern faces into the peppers with a sharp paring knife, making triangle eyes and noses, and pointy-teeth smiles. Slice off the tops of the peppers, and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff the peppers lightly with the beef stuffing, and place them into the prepared baking dish so they lean against each other.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the peppers are tender and the stuffing is cooked through and juicy, about 1 hour.[youtube uM6ErLnAGW4 650]

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If you’ve yet to figure out a Halloween game plan, there are some awesome finds to make your celebration a little less frightening.

Alex and Alexa’s Halloween shop offers cool updates on traditional ghoulish wear and décor. Use this fun, $24 pumpkin storage head from Lego to hold Halloween treats now, and those stray Lego pieces down the road.  It also comes in a cute skeleton face. Don’t forget to check out the clothes, too, featuring offbeat prints, like a Stella McCartney Glow in the Dark tee, on sale for $34.50.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Online costume retailers have scores for under-the-wire shoppers. Costume Express’s Pumpkin Busters start around $10. That’s where we found this undeniably adorable lady bug outfit for $20 for Baby. Buy Costumes also has Grave Busters lasting until this Friday; our favorite is this $17 red dragon get-up for toddlers. With attached wings and a one-piece body suit, it’s easy to put on and entertaining. Both sites feature clearance up to 60 percent off as well.

For more bargains, check out Wal-Mart’s Halloween store, where children’s costumes start at $6.97 and candy packs at $2. Beyond the savings, you’ll find guides for easy crafts and recipes, such as carving the perfect pumpkin.

Just remember, if you want your loot by the 31st, you’ll need to order online sooner rather than later.

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Animal lovers in Manila, Philippines, got their pets into the spirit of Halloween by dressing them up in spooky costumes.

The crowd of mostly dogs and cats donned colorful outfits ranging from vampires and headless horsemen to corpse brides.

Some owners even came with their own matching set of outfits and did some basic stunts with their pets.

On October 26, 2013, animal lovers are expected to be at the Eastwood Open Park for the SCAREDY CATS & DOGS 2013, a fund-raising Halloween event for the benefit of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Animal Shelter.

PAWS Executive Director Anna Carbrera said: “We always tell people to spend more time with your pets – that includes the holidays like Halloween.

“So when people like to dress up, they also like to dress up their pets and you see that they’re closer.”

For Julie Imperio and her pet Chihuahua, Halloween is all about having fun.

Julie Imperio said: “Halloween, for me and my pet, means a time for enjoyment by dressing up and being a kid, doing some trick or treating and attending parties.”

Scaredy Cats and Dogs 2013

Scaredy Cats and Dogs 2013

Now on its 10th year, kids & pet-lovers can once again dress up themselves and their pets and compete in the fun costume contest. Categories are as follows:

Crypt Keeper’s Choice – Most Original Costume

Casper’s Choice – Cutest Costume

Phantom’s Pick – Most Creative Costume

Scream of the Crop – Scariest Costume

Midnight Society – Best Group in Costume

Halim-Aw-Aw Award – Best Native Dog in Costume

Hali-Meow Award – Best Native Cat in Costume

Best Ghoulist Partners – Best Pet & Guardian Tandem

Mr. Boogeyman – Best Male in Costume

All Hallow’s Eve – Best Female in Costume

Transylvanian Star – Best Pet in Costume

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Here you can find some of the best tips, tricks and ghoulish tools for this year’s Halloween.

ZOMBIE-PALOOZA

According to Yahoo Search stats, Zombies are back at the top of the list of pop culture costumes. Look no further than your own smartphone for the start of a skin-puppet-palooza that puts you at the very center of this craze. Check out free apps Walking Dead (iTunes, Google Play), Zombiematic Camera (iTunes) and ZombieBooth (iTunes, Google Play). Each app uses chilling photo effects to transform you, your friends, even your pets, into a truly gruesome headshot that you can share with the (living) world.

If you want to bring even more undead action to life, take a look at Zombie apocalypse extravaganza World War Z. The newly released Blu-ray combo pack (around $20 on Amazon) includes an unrated version that was “too intense” for theaters — plus awesome behind-the-scenes footage that shows just how the blockbuster plague of corpse characters were made. You can leave it playing in the background of your Halloween happenings to create a “restless dead” effect, or use it to just get inspired.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Get all the Pin-spiration you need for everything else, from makeup tips, printable décor and even to braiinnnnn food on Pinterest. But if the edible eyeballs aren’t quite gory enough, just shuffle on back to your mobile device to add a pair of creepy peepers to just about anything via the Digital Dudz app (iTunes, Android). The animated 3-D gore this app brings to fright night is gut-rippingly great. You can make your costume to display the animation, or buy a Morphsuit (around $30) that comes with a special pouch to display the grisly scenes. There’s everything from an open-heart zipper wound exposing a still-beating heart to a scary clown face with moving eyes.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT WITH LESS CREEP AND MORE CUTE

Moving on from the stuff of nightmares to the stuff that can give parents nightmares – kids costumes. Here’s how to make sure they’re both stellar and safe. Electronics retailer RadioShack is demonstrating just how simple it is to make costumes stand out from the crowd, and in the dark, with a few simple DIY designs. Just follow the directions on this Hacky-Halloween how-to using EL Wire to make simple fairy wings appear to take flight, or set your little wizard aglow with some LEDs and a Battery Powered Inverter.

TRACK OR TWEET

A brand new combination of a QR coded bracelet and smartphone app called Scan Me Kidz helps you track down kids in seconds. With GPS, you can keep kids in sight on the app, while the QR code contains information that when scanned can get youngsters back home or even alert people of allergies and medical conditions.

Even without a bracelet, there are a handful of free smartphone tracking apps such as Mamabear (iTunes, Google Play) and Trick or Tracker (Amazon, Google Play, typically $4.99 but free on Halloween) that help keep a watchful eye on kids. Both apps let you see where your kids are at any time, and they both let parents create a digital fence to get alerts if kids go out of a pre-set area.

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Enjoy this Halloween season with these spooky chocolate spiders.

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark or milk chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 113g pack liquorice Catherine wheels
  • 2 x 154g packs Oreo cookies
  • white and black icing pens
    Chocolate spider cookies

    Chocolate spider cookies

Method:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once melted, turn off the heat and leave the chocolate in the bowl to keep warm while you assemble the spiders.
  2. Unroll some of the liquorice wheels and cut into 2-3cm lengths to use as the Chocolate spiders’ legs.
  3. Splodge a small tsp of chocolate onto half of the cookies. Arrange eight liquorice legs on top, then sandwich with another cookie. Spread some more chocolate on top of the second cookie to cover, then put somewhere cool to set.
  4. Use the icing pens to add eyes, by first blobbing two big dots of white icing on each, topped with two smaller dots of black icing.

Source: Good Food magazine

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Honey Boo Boo embraced the Halloween spirit early this year, working with Mama June to ready their McIntyre, Georgia, home for the ghoulish holiday.

Honey Boo Boo, 8, was seen earlier this month decorating her family property. In between playing with her Hula Hoop in the front yard, barefoot Alana Thompson hung lights adorned with spooky spiders. That was just part of the festive display, which also included cobwebs, jack-o’-lanterns, skeletons, ghosts, a giant black cat, and crime scene tape.

The family added a little inside joke to the display by hanging two “Boo” signs on the front exterior of the white house.

Honey Boo Boo embraced the Halloween spirit early this year

Honey Boo Boo embraced the Halloween spirit early this year

Honey Boo Boo loves her Halloween – earlier this year TLC aired a special episode on how the family spends the holiday. The clan was shown going all out with devilish decorations, making up their costumes and a trip to a local corn maze. They also told ghost stories (including an apparent family classic about the “Fart Ghost”) and complained about their trick-or-treat loot (someone dared to give her dental floss!).

This year’s festivities may well end up on the show’s third season, which premieres on January 1.

It remains to be seen whether Honey Boo Boo will once again inspire Halloween costumes this year.

In 2012, Miranda Lambert and Paris Hilton both dressed as Honey Boo Boo – with the country singer proving to be a real ringer. This year, the network is selling a “Little Miss Sassified” sash for those hoping to adopt an authentic Honey Boo Boo look.

There is no word on what Honey Boo Boo herself will dress up as this year, but it doesn’t really matter. As she said earlier this year: “Halloween is all about treats … treating myself to candy.”

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Eerie eyeball pops: These spooky chocolate cake balls will be a hit with kids at Halloween – they can help decorate them too.

Ingredients:

  • 100g/4oz Madeira cake
  • 100g Oreo cookies
  • 100g bar milk chocolate, melted
  • 200g bar white chocolate, melted
  • few Smarties and icing pens, to decorate

You will also need:

  • 10 wooden skewers
  • ½ small pumpkin or butternut squash, deseeded, to stand pops in
    Halloween eerie eyeball pops

    Halloween eerie eyeball pops

Method:

  1. Break the Madeira cake and cookies into the bowl of a food processor, pour in the melted milk chocolate and whizz to combine.
  2. Tip the mixture into a bowl, then use your hands to roll into about 10 walnut-sized balls. Chill for 2 hrs until really firm.
  3. Push a skewer into each ball, then carefully spoon the white chocolate over the cake balls to completely cover. Stand the cake pops in the pumpkin, then press a Smartie onto the surface while wet. Chill again until the chocolate has set. Before serving, using the icing pens, add a pupil to each Smartie and wiggly red veins to the eyeballs.

Source: Good Food magazine

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Duck Dynasty stars celebrated this year’s Halloween at their Duck Commander scarehouse with the show’s Season Finale.

“We’re going to turn the warehouse into the SCAREhouse,” declared Korie Robertson.

Most of the crew was excited about hosting the trick or treat festival, but Jase Robertson had his reservations.

“Let me guess, by <<we>>, you mean <<us>>,” said Jase.

“Exactly,” smiled Korie Robertson.

“I want this thing to be killer,” said Willie Robertson, holding a bloodied plastic arm.

“No pun intended.”

Jase Robertson was not particularly enthused about the idea of wearing a costume–or about Halloween in general.

“I’ve never really understood why people get so excited about dressing up during Halloween,” groused Jase Robertson.

“Let’s just call Halloween what it is–a weird fashion show for candy.”

As the Duck Dynasty crew got to work building a maze for the haunted house, they started debating what movie was the scariest of all time.

Jase Robertson declared his favorite to be the classic 1978 slasher flick, “Halloween.”

“There’s something about a man with a mask and a butcher knife,” he explained.

“Yeah, I watched that one with my eyes closed,” noted John Godwin.

Duck Dynasty stars celebrated this year’s Halloween at their Duck Commander scarehouse

Duck Dynasty stars celebrated this year’s Halloween at their Duck Commander scarehouse

“I like Freddy Cougar,” added Uncle Si, misnaming Freddy Krueger.

“Now, he’s scary. I’m talking about–hey–Freddy Cougar, the scariest movie of all. Hey, look–the guy comes you at you when you’re asleep. That scares me, because I sleep a lot.”

Jep Robertson had a different definition of terror.

“That movie <<Ghost>>, that was scary horror movie,” declared Jep Robertson.

“You mean that movie that Whoppi Goldberg was in?” asked Jase Robertson incredulously.

“That’s not a horror movie.”

“That was a chick flick,” added John Godwin.

“Yeah, but it was still scary,” said Jase Robertson, defensively.

Meanwhile, back at the Robertson compound, Miss Kay was busy in the kitchen, decorating cupcakes and telling ghost stories to the grandchildren.

Phil Robertson tried to sample some of Miss Kay’s baked goods, but was swatted away.

“No, no sir,” chided Miss Kay Robertson.

“This is for people who participate in Halloween. No dress-up, no cup cakes.”

It seemed that Phil and Jase Robertson share similar feelings about the spooky holiday.

“Well, I’m not much into All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween as they call it,” explained Phil Robertson.

“Pagan holidays, not my particular cup of tea. But throw a bunch of cup cakes into the mix, and hey–I can suffer through it for a day or two. But trust me–I’m not into it.”

Phil Robertson did, however, seem to be into carving pumpkins.

Leading the kids to an outdoor picnic table, Phil Robertson instructed his grandchildren to treat the pulpy orange squash as if it was a freshly killed mallard duck.

“Gutting a duck is a particular skill that every man, woman and child should know,” he said.

“Of course, it’s not duck season yet, but we do have plenty of pumpkins.”

Phil Robertson attacks a pumpkin with particular skill and flair.

“Anything that involves a lot of knife work, that’s a good thing,” he explained, as he mimicked a series of quick slashing motions.

“River rat Benihana’s.”

After successfully carving a jack-o-lantern, his grandkids were not impressed.

“More scary,” one pleaded.

“A beard,” suggested another.

“You want a beard on him, I’ll give you a beard on him,” Phil Robertson told the children, squarely aiming his shotgun at the defenseless squash.

After the gourd splattered everywhere, Phil Robertson was satisfied.

“Now, that is how you carve a pumpkin.”

Back at the SCAREhouse, the kids had a frightful time, being spooked by a condemned John Godwin in an electric chair, zombie teenagers and Uncle Si dressed as a giant, crazed beaver.

After failing to scare anyone in his Freddy Cougar–um, Krueger–outfit, Willie Robertson reflected on the importance of unity.

“Halloween is awesome for many reasons. Of course, there’s the candy, dressing up in non-matching outfits and you can’t forget scaring the crap out of little kids. But the best part of Halloween is that everyone gets to come together–not just as family, but as a community. Young and old, friends and neighbors, all together in the name of good fun–and candy.”

Duck Dynasty Season 4 is over and A&E will air a very special one-hour holiday program on December 5 entitled, I’m Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas..

A new Duck Dynasty game for mobile devices called Battle of the Beards, and is available at the iTunes store for iPhones ($.99) and iPads ($1.99).