Halloween Candy and Sticky Writing


Candy Do you insist on checking your children’s candy before allowing them to eat it on Halloween (those of you who participate in Halloween, that is)? Have you heard about those sadistic miscreants who embed razor blades into apples and tamper with candy bars? I bet you have. The stories of sickos who booby-trap trick-or-treat booty have been around since the 1960s. A poll in 1985 by ABC News showed that 60 percent of parents worried that their children might be victimized. Since then schools and churches have opened their doors for safe trick-or-treating and hospitals have even offered to X-ray candy bags.

What you probably didn’t know is that researchers discovered in 1985 that it’s all a myth. They went back 27 years and found not a single reported instance of a stranger causing harm by tampering with Halloween candy.

If that surprises you, well, I’m not surprised. It surprised me too. I learned the truth about the candy hoax from the excellent book: Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. What these guys find so amazing about the Halloween candy urban legend is that it caught on so successfully. Why was the story so universally believed and remembered for decades? In other words, what made the idea so sticky?

The book ponders the concept of stickiness as it relates to marketing, teaching, and communication in general. Why do we remember some ideas for a lifetime while others slip through our brains in an instant? It’s a fascinating concept–stickiness–and the conclusions the Heath brothers arrive at in this book are abundantly useful for teachers and public speakers like me. But they are also handy for writers. Imagine writing a college application essay that an admissions officer will never forget, or a resume cover letter that the boss talks about to his wife over dinner.

Without giving too much away (you should read the book), they propose a rather sticky acronym for remembering the core principles of stickiness: SUCCESs

Sticky ideas tend to be:

1. Simple. The core idea must be easy to grasp, boiled down, concise.

2. Unexpected. Surprise is an absolute key: a new angle, a new take, an unforeseen twist. Create a mystery.

3. Concrete. People don’t remember concepts and abstractions; they remember vivid images of real things. Details, practicals.

4. Credible. Make it believable and understandable. Reliable authority helps.

5. Emotional. Sticky ideas hit the heart as well as the head. People have to care.

6. Stories. People remember narratives not expositions.

No matter what kind of writing you are doing, keep these principles in mind to increase its stickiness. And if you get a chance, read the book.

Oh, and be careful with Halloween candy anyway–just in case.

Note: Apparently, the Heath brothers have a new book out: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. I might have to read that one too.


Like this article? Please consider sharing it or subscribing to our weekly email update! Post any comments and questions below. Bloggers love comments.

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Egli Diana Pinto
    Egli Diana Pinto03-26-2017

    Hey there, You have done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.

    I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.

  2. car computer exchange
    car computer exchange03-25-2017

    Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download
    it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a
    few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your theme.
    Appreciate it

  3. Danielle Dommel
    Danielle Dommel03-25-2017

    I hope more such alerts, really good piece of article.

  4. Itamar Serpa Fernandes
    Itamar Serpa Fernandes03-25-2017

    Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new updates.

  5. work goes well
    work goes well03-25-2017

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great
    topic. I needs to spend some time learning
    more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful information I
    was looking for this info for my mission.

  6. velashape cellulite
    velashape cellulite03-25-2017

    Hello there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks
    weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that
    might be able to fix this issue. If you have
    any recommendations, please share. Thanks!

  7. Egli Diana Pinto
    Egli Diana Pinto03-24-2017

    My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net
    from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on several websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress posts into it?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  8. Egli Diana Pinto
    Egli Diana Pinto03-24-2017

    First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question in which I’d
    like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how
    you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.

    I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes
    are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!

  9. Itamar Serpa Fernandes
    Itamar Serpa Fernandes03-24-2017

    Wow, that’s what I was searching for, what a data!

    existing here at this website, thanks admin of this web site.

  10. lotto works
    lotto works03-24-2017

    I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This post posted at this
    web site is truly pleasant.

  11. online business
    online business03-23-2017

    fantastic points altogether, you simply received a emblem new reader.
    What may you suggest in regards to your publish that you simply made a few days ago?
    Any sure?

  12. car computer exchange
    car computer exchange03-23-2017

    I do not even understand how I stopped up here, however I
    believed this publish was once good. I don’t recognise who you are however certainly you are
    going to a well-known blogger should you are not already.

  13. Georges Sadala
    Georges Sadala03-23-2017

    Excellent web site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days.
    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  14. financial planning
    financial planning03-22-2017

    Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what a stuff! present here at
    this weblog, thanks admin of this web site.

  15. foreign exchange rates
    foreign exchange rates03-21-2017

    I know this web site gives quality dependent
    content and extra information, is there any other site which presents
    these kinds of information in quality?

  16. Guillermo

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few
    pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog.

    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  17. Cora

    Excellent site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours these days.
    I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  18. Itamar Serpa Fernandes
    Itamar Serpa Fernandes03-20-2017

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was
    great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you
    are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

  19. Julie

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it
    helped me out much. I hope to give something back and help others like you aided me.

  20. Augusto de Arruda Botelho
    Augusto de Arruda Botelho03-16-2017

    I seriously love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you
    develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own personal blog and would love to
    find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called.
    Appreciate it!

  21. love anal
    love anal03-05-2017

    b78JQZ Very good post. I am dealing with some of these issues as well..

  22. Merri

    Jewels like this article will help our children think proactively and logically.
    Here’s another required reading around my house.
    Thanks, Brian!
    P.S. By the way, we’ve always trick-or-treated without worrying about the razors in candy – now I’m quite glad.

Leave a Reply

If you like a post, please take a second to click "like," and comment as often as you like.
We promise not to correct your grammar!