Monkey Nuts

Lorna has offered a new writing prompt this week but in keeping with the same theme as last week. A Sepia Toned Memory round up can be perused here. There is a lot of lovely writing to enjoy.

This week we are given an autumnal food memory. 

Monkey Nuts

‘Buy the monkey nuts Mammy!’ 

I had the poor mother tortured.

Every Halloween, the net bags of strange looking, bitter little brown nuts encased in crackable, rough edged shelling would appear on shop counters. On the actual counter because these were a special business. Just like the Santa foil on milk bottle tops, Easter lilies in Spring or Wexford strawberry stalls in summer, the monkey nut arrival was a true signalling of the changing of seasons. I made her buy them. Promises of eating them, loving them, needing them. Pleading. Cajoling. Halloween after all demanded monkey nuts.

I hadn’t a clue as to why.

You always gave a few to the pookies calling. You always received them too. Dressed in a black bin bag with holes for eyes and arms, you put on your plastic mask just before entering the garden of the house you were calling to, otherwise you would smother if you kept it on. The mask would be from the local shop. A selection would appear around monkey nut time and you might even get a new one. The elastic band would inevitably snap and there would be many irritable and desperate attempts to staple on another before heading out on the pookies.

Trick or treat only took off with the advent of Sky telly. (Before that we called it ‘going on the pookies’. A pookie was a spirit only known in Ireland). Now they are all trick or treaters. Costumes are lavish. TK Maxx. Argos. Tesco. You can be anything and barely use your imagination. Even grown ups are at it.

One thing has lasted. I still never let a Halloween party pass without giving out a few monkey nuts. My youngest is a ‘Halloween baby’ (October 25th). Her first birthday cake boasted a ghost and black icing. The walls were cobwebbed. Balloons were spider infested. A puking watermelon decorated the table. A bowl of monkey nuts caused much nostalgic conversation. I ate a few for old times sake.

Some things live in the past. Belong in the past. Some things have a powerful magic that can transport you into a time long gone and a place that will never be again. Monkey nuts are indeed that beast.

We never ate all of them. They tasted horrible. Mammy was right. Total waste of money.

Photo by Pixabay on

32 thoughts on “Monkey Nuts

  1. Indeed euch! We used to string them and hang them out for the finches and tits to eat. They seemed perfectly happy with those evil devils carbuncles but all her life my gran had a pocketful that she’d crack and nibble. Life must have been hard back in the day if they were considered a treat….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We always got monkey nuts in our stockings at Christmas. I’m not really sure why!
    You’re night about Halloween getting bigger yet imagination being less. I always prefer a home made costume than ones from a store. It’s more about the doing for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I associate all nuts with Halloween, rather than Christmas. We used to bob for them as well as apples. I have recently discovered roasted monkey nuts, and I have to say, they are quite nice, but best of all are the Kentish Cob nuts – I LOVE them.

    Great post, brought back loads of memories, particularly the suffocating masks that would get so wet on the inside too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love hearing about different traditions! I didn’t grow up with any sort of Hallowe’en tradition (the opposite: my parents adamantly refused to let us celebrate it), but I’m always curious about the older ones that have been wiped away by the spread of trick and treat.

    (I love your writing style, by the way, but I found the font on this post a little bit hard to read because it’s so curly. Just thought I’d mention that! Though I really ought to get better at reading curlier writing because at this rate I won’t be able to read my own handwriting.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, trick or treat is doing a wipe out here too. Halloween was always celebrated around my house but then we would study the origins at school and wonder why!!
      I so glad to hear you feedback on the font. I changed the size as an experiment based on other feedback and if not not quite like the size either. Thank you for confirming it !


  5. What I love monkey nuts give me them every time. Pookies are new to me the boy next door had poogies once ( slang for nits) but pookies … Another great response to a #ginspiration prompt cracking job.


  6. The monkey nuts were always a huge part of Halloween for us. Our Little Miss Eight is allergic to nuts so they’re a no no here now.
    I remember when our costumes were black bags, or old torn clothes. Our make-up was dirt from the nearest muddy puddle. Funny when I think about it! 😂
    How times have changed.

    Liked by 1 person

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