What was a Hiding Candy Frolic?

A Hiding Candy Frolic was an elaborate game of hide and seek played by Nantucket High School students in the 1800s and early 1900s. It took place after dark and involved two teams, one made up of girls, the other of boys. One team did the hiding and the other team did the seeking. The girls’ team and the boys’ team took turns hiding and seeking.

The hiders planned in advance where to hide, secured the place, and obtained the sworn secrecy of people assisting them. Late in the afternoon of the game, the hiders would take circuitous routes to the hiding place, hoping to avoid detection. The seekers would be on the lookout, hoping to follow one of the hiders.

The hiding place might be in someone’s house or it might be in a public building. It was once in the police station, with the full cooperation of the Nantucket police department. The seekers went from house to house knocking on doors and asking if the hiders were within. If they suspected the hiders were in a house, but the owners wouldn’t admit it, the seekers might conduct a search to be sure. Once, when the hiding place was in the home of a professional wallpaper hanger, the host papered over the door to the space where they were concealed.

The game continued until an hour agreed upon. If the hiders had remained undetected, their team won. If the seekers found the hiders, their team won. The losers were obligated to treat the winners. This might be as simple as a taffy pull at the end of the evening or as elaborate as a full meal served on a following day.

To learn more about Hiding Candy Frolics, see Frances Karttunen’s book, Nantucket’s North Shore: A Neighborhood History, available from the NHA Museum Shop and from Spinner Publications of New Bedford.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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