I grew up in rural South Australia, and when I was young my family often hosted Halloween parties. I particularly enjoyed carving the faces on the jack-o-lantern. Evil eyes, gorilla nostrils, and sharp teeth with long canines were my style. Incidentally, our jack-o-lanterns were watermelons, because they’re bigger than pumpkins.
Another favourite activity was the doughnut game. It seems not many people know about this, and I don’t know where we picked it up from. You’ll find some relevant hits if you search the Internet for “halloween doughnut game”, but they’re all tragically misinformed because they leave out the most important part (the chocolate sauce).
The game is always played outdoors, typically over a healthy green lawn where sticky food falling on the ground is not a problem for either the food or the ground. You need a cable of some sort (e.g. a rope or a washing line) attached to tree branches or other fixtures and extending horizontally above head height. Meanwhile, chocolate doughnuts are prepared and tied to pieces of string, the other ends of which are attached to the cable so that the doughnuts dangle at the level of a child’s mouth.
Now for the chocolate sauce, into which the doughnuts are immersed just before being tied to the cable. The recipe (via my parents) is: ten spoons of icing sugar, one spoon of melted butter, one spoon of cocoa, and enough warm water to get the desired consistency (runny enough that it drips everywhere but sticky enough that it doesn’t all drip at once).
Children line up, one child in front of each doughut, and keep their hands behind their backs. On the signal, they begin eating their doughnuts, getting chocolate sauce all over their mouths. The way I remember it is that as soon as you got the doughnut off the string (by gnawing to the middle and then pulling it out with your mouth) you could eat the rest of it normally, using your hands and all. But as with all games, there is room for families to adjust it to suit individual temperaments. (Some may even prefer it without the chocolate sauce — there’s no accounting for taste.)
Just for fun I bought a mask and sword from a costume shop not far from here. Photos: