In Halloween Episodes, some characters go trick-or-treating. They eagerly open their candy bags and ready themselves for the candy. The adult reaches into a bowl and grabs some ... fruit? This will typically make the children mad, usually resulting in the vandalizing of said adult's house.
Also can happen from the adult's point of view. If it is in this form, the adult will desperately try to convince the children that the item is tasty and nutritious. The adult will then be truly and sincerely shocked that their house has been targeted.
Note that the "treat" does not always have to be edible, or even a likely one, like the eponymous rock.
The Trope Namer is from the PeanutsHalloween Special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Compare My New Gift Is Lame, as well as Razor Apples, which are worse than unwanted, they're downright dangerous. Contrast Green Rocks, which are the kind of rock that may not be useless after all. The rock doesn't need to be yellow.
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A 2013 commercial for Verizon has a family of trick-or-treaters in Star Wars costumes getting a note on their new phones advising them to avoid a house owned by a dentist, who's giving out floss.
Anime and Manga
In the OEL I Luv Halloween, the first house the main characters go to gives them an apple, and after that all the houses give them Hostess Snack-like treats. They attempt to break the 'curse' by hiding a razor blade in the apple and giving it to the chief of police, who has the old lady who gave it to them arrested.
While there is a Munchkin card with this name, it refers to a treasure chest rather than Halloween. Still counts. (Oddly, the rock can come in extremely handy to break a tie or instantly smash the Glass Jaw).
Also a card name in the CCG Netrunner, where the "Rock" in question was a mass driver launch from orbit which the corp could launch at the runner. A tough card to deploy, but if you could get it off, it squashed the runner flat.
A Looney Tunes comic had Bugs and Daffy trick or treating. Daffy gets only charcoal and rocks. On the other hand, Bugs gets candy and money, but is annoyed he didn't get carrots.
In an issue of the Incredible Hulk (the intelligent) Hulk studies his officially licensed Avengers action figure. He comments that while everybody else has some cool accessory (Captain America's shield, etc.), "I got a rock."
Ned Flanders has a segment in Bart Simpson's Heebie-Jeebie Hullabaloo (a collection of Halloween stories and skits) called "Halloween Hoedown at the Flanderosa." One panel shows him dressed as a scarecrow and giving the kids who come trick-or-treating to his house "a hug and the glimmering glow of friendship"; Milhouse is noticeably confused to see Flanders putting his arms around him.
Several Chick Tracts are specifically intended to be handed out to trick-or-treaters, usually (rather ironically) the ones arguing that Halloween is an evil pagan holiday. In the tracts themselves (see "Stinky" for example), some characters are positively portrayed giving out tracts as treats. Somewhat averted when the children in the tracts appear quite excited to receive them, and in real life, to his credit, Chick does recommend including a bag of candy along with the tracts.
"And here's a nice treat for you... little comic books!"
In the Goosebumps book "The Haunted Mask", Carly Beth gets apples. Since Evil Feels Good with the mask on, she throws it at the house.
Live Action TV
In That '70s Show, Kitty decides to give out raisins. Eggs are promptly thrown at the windows.
Kitty: "Raisins are nature's candy!"
Red: "And eggs are nature's hand grenade."
From that same episode:
Fez: An apple? Where's my candy, you son of a bitch?!
In a Saturday Night Live sketch from the 1970s, the extraterrestrial Coneheads give out beer and "fried chicken embryos" (eggs). None of the children retaliate, but the Coneheads do get an angry visit from neighbourhood parents, who are mollified when the aliens give their explanatory Catchphrase, "We are from France." They apologize about the beer but continue dispensing the fried eggs when assured that's okay
In an episode of Married... with Children, the Bundys' yuppie neighbours (you know the ones) give out potatoes on Halloween...
The Halloween episode of Good Eats, which is about making various kinds of candy, uses this as the impetus; Alton's nephew Elton has been given health-food candies by his mother for his school's Halloween event, and Alton offers to replace it.
When Roseanne was shown her horrible future by The Ghost Of Halloween Yet To Come, she was giving kids fun-sized tubes of toothpaste.
On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies are drafted by Principal Snyder into taking groups of kids Trick or Treating on Halloween. The first house they visit gives out toothbrushes. (And Xander coaches his assigned group of kids on avoiding "rocks" and extorting the best/most candy.)
When KISS was on Mad TV, they did a bit where they went trick-or-treating and Peter Criss got a rock... but he loves rock!
In Do Over, Joel's parents gave people energy bars.
In an episode of Millennium a depressed man gives young Frank Black a cigarette.
In the Christmas SpecialA Muppet Family Christmas, there's not only a rock, it's a regifted rock — and getting it is regarded as a good thing. The "nice yellow pebble" has been circulated as a gift among the Fraggles thirty-seven times, then is given to Robin the Frog, who gives it to Grover.
In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank runs out of candy, but starts giving out what he thinks are chocolate coins to keep the neighborhood kids from egging the house. Angry parents soon start to arrive to find out why their kids are being given condoms.
Spoofed by Svengoolie in a classic sketch where the horror host went trick-or-treating but all someone gave him was a paper cutout of a middle eastern country. That's right: He got Iraq.
In a Halloween episode of NCIS, Tony and Ziva question the neighbor of a murdered marine who was known to hate the man's practical jokes and Halloween in general. Two trick or treaters show up and the man, lacking any candy, gives them energy drinks instead. The kids look less than satisfied and Tony chastises him to "Be prepared next year."
FoxTrot also had a comic where Jason and Marcus went to each house in the neighborhood to get a sample of what they'd be giving out on Halloween so that they could avoid this. Of course, everyone gave them lame foods so that they wouldn't come back.
While watching the Trope Namer, Jason concocts a scheme were Charlie Brown would eat the rocks, get surgery for his intestines and sue the pants off the people who gave him rocks, for not telling him they weren't candy.
Real Life / Truth In Television
Good or nice dentists will give out toothbrushes, to the disappointment of the kids.
Alternatively, they may hand out sugarless gum, which is (generally) better from the kids' point of view.
Mean dentists will give out the best candy, eagerly rubbing their hands together at the idea of torturing the kids in the dentist's chair soon getting a couple thousand bucks from the kid's insurance provider for services rendered.
The best dentists will open their door in full dentist garb, a scary smile, and give regular candy to those who haven't run in fear yet.
Complete with functioning power drill.
In 2013, a woman in North Dakota gave children she considered "moderately obese" a letter instead of candy.
A pediatrician who was offering money to the kids at her door, and asking that they give their loot to her. The newspaper however did not report if her trees/shrubbery got TPed or not, but it does seem likely she did.
Some doctors/dentists found a friendlier way to get all that candy away from the kids: they host a "candy buyback" on the day after Halloween. The kids choose which of their sweet loot to trade in for money or prizes, and keep the stuff they REALLY want (often only a fraction of the original haul).
Those incredibly flimsy spider-shaped plastic rings that are supposed to glow in the dark but don't.
That said, some toys avert this trope nicely— mini cans of Play-Doh, anyone?
In City of Heroes, the Halloween event includes a Mini-Game in which you can "trick or treat" for Halloween-themed items or temporary abilities. One of these is a rock (ranged weapon, minor damage).
It's common in-game for a teammate to announce "I got a rock" and for the rest of the team to congratulate that player.
In the early days of World of Warcraft, Blizzard used to occasionally release audio plays featuring a band of gnome adventurers who are frequently mistaken for children. During the Halloween episode, everyone they met on their adventure thought they were trick-or-treaters and gave them treats. It was a running gag that the same one every time would get a rock as a gift, causing another to ask if it's one of the many types of ore or gems in the game. "No, just a rock."
Early on in Costume Quest, when the siblings Wren and Reynold go trick-or-treating, the adult in the very first house they visit is so repulsed by their costumes that all they give them is some old marzipan they dug up from their couch.
The Homestar Runner Halloween cartoon, The House That Gave Sucky Treats, is a game where you hand out candy, and some of the treats are traditional "unpopular" treats or otherwise unsuitable. You can give Marzipan (who is a vegan) a steak, which causes her to complain, "Is this a joke? It's not funny" (while Strong Bad slips several of them into her treat pail), or some rice cakes, to which she says, more delightedly, "I like to eat these without water." You can give Strong Sad a can of Campbell's soup (he's dressed as Andy Warhol), Necco wafers or some Baker's chocolate. Also, you can give Mary Jane (a sort of cheap honey-flavored taffy) to Pom-Pom and the Poopsmith, prompting the Poopsmith to hold up a sign reading "Give us something good instead." Furthermore, Strong Bad will complain about any of the treats you can give him: a fun-size Butterfinger ("What's 'fun' about less candy?"), an apple ("What are you, a dentist? Or a hippie? Or some kind of hippie dentist?"), or a marshmallow bunny ("All you've got is old freakin' Easter candy?!"). Finally, you can give Homestar change, at which point he sarcastically thanks you for "adding a step to my Halloween process".
When Strong Mad and The Cheat show up, a pile of rocks shows up as one of the treat choices. Give it to them, and Strong Man will just eat the rocks like normal candy, and wash them down with cola. Then The Cheat's head a'splodes.
At one point in another Halloween cartoon, 3 Times Halloween Funjob, Bubs and Coach Z arrive at this very same house (Bubs says, "Oh, I remember this house from a couple of years ago."), and again, you hand out candies, which once again may or may not be unsuitable treats. In the case of Bubs and Coach Z, one of the treats you can give them is a "Delicious" bag, which a treat dating back to the Old-Timey era. This causes Coach Z to exclaim, "What is that? One of them old school candies?" and then does an old-school rap.
Or you can forgo giving any treats to Bubs and Coach Z, or give them Bubs' own pumpkin-shaped treat pail, and instead get a visit from Stinkoman. Here, you can give him a Zagnut bar ("I can't eat those, 'cause I'm in training. Don't you have any of the other kinds of bars? You know... energy bars... or power bars... or training bars?"), a prawn ("I love prawns! Simple as that!") or a jar labelled "AKIRA", which causes Stinkoman's right arm to turn into a bunch of tentacles, after which he says, "That tickles."
Brainkrieg's song "Decomposing Pumpkins" has two sequences saying things like "An apple is not candy! (You get egged! You get egged! You get egged!)"
The Gag Dub "It's the Great Dolemite, Charlie Brown" has African-American Charlie Brown receive baked potatoes when he and his friends trick-or-treat in the white neighborhood.
Hella Weenie, the second episode of Radiskull & Devil Doll. A neighbour who looks like a cross between Ned Flanders and "Weird Al" Yankovic has a bowl with supersized chocolate bars. When a kid comes to his house, the man reaches into the bowl and pulls out a hidden tangerine, to the kid's disappointment.
The Neurotically Yours Chibisode - aptly named Charlie Browned - has Chibi Foamy and Germaine not only get the eponymous rock, but also an apple. And gluten-free soy milk. And freeze-dried seaweed snacks. And a baggie of various caliber bullets.
Inverted with Chibi Foamy in the episode as he loves rocks due to their many uses - such as breaking windows, smashing someone's skull in and as a "pet".
Bug shows us the worst houses to visit during Halloween. These houses give out, in turn, a newborn, a detonator, and a pencil; take your pick
Inverted in Housepets!, since chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs alike:
Marvin as pirate: I got a marble!
Grape as devil: I got a piece of flint!
Sasha as witch: I got a bone!
Peanut with a blanket over him: I got a chocolate...
A Basic Instructions strip has Scott tell the trick-or-treaters to go to hell, and they inform him that if he doesn't give them candy, they will egg his house. He responds "If you have eggs, you don't need candy". Later he decides that the best way to scare children is to act in a more subtle manner, and he starts pouring Mr. Pibb directly into a child's candy bucket.
Kid: That's enough, Mister.
Scott: Nonsense! There's no such thing as enough Mr. Pibb!
Kid: Really, sir...
Scott: ARE YOU REJECTING MY HOSPITALITY?!
Kid: No, sir!
In one Batman and Sons comic, Batman fights The Scarecrow on Halloween, and the two are mistaken for trick-or-treaters by an old woman. They decide to play along.
Scarecrow:(genuinely pleased) Ooh, I got a chocolate bar with almonds.
Batman:(Geniunely indignant) I got a rock!
In Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, the neighborhood watch committee warns about this when trick or treating at houses with old people.
And parodied in the NSFW Gag DubIt's the Great Dolemite, Charlie Brown!: "I got another mothafuckin' POTATO!!"
In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's mom and dad give Chester and AJ advice for not having good costumes. Surprisingly, the children do nothing to the Turners' residence.
Of course it's a Double Subversion when they go to the principal: she covers them in reflective tape without giving them anything, and threatens to have them held back a grade if they TP her house. However, Chester says he's already being held back.
In another Treehouse of Horror opening Bart complains that Flanders gave them toothpaste, in which Lisa complains about it being ''mini'' toothpaste and another when Bart empties his trick or treat bag (While dressed as Charlie Brown).
Bart: Good grief! This candy's terrible. Circus peanuts, raisins, nicotine gum, a library card.
King of the Hill subverted this when Hank had a flashback to trick-or-treating as a kid. One house gave out king sized chocolate bars, but was vandalized anyway, because the kids only got one bar. Total.
Also, it was his own house.
On American Dragon Jake Long, the title character's Annoying Younger Sibling Haley went trick-or-treating dressed first as a princess, and then as a dragon princess, and then as a dancing fire juggling dragon princess but all she got were apples. Meanwhile Grandpa, who was with her, kept getting lots of candy and complimented on his wise old man costume. Eventually, Haley received candy when she changed her costume to a wise old man.
On an episode of Beavis And Butthead, Mr. Van Dreesan offered the trick-or-treaters a choice between organic nut clusters and a bumper sticker that said "My other car's a bike." Beavis and Butt-Head took the stickers.
In the South Park episode "Pinkeye," Stan is carrying a taser as part of his Halloween kit:
Kyle: What's that?
Stan: For shocking people who try to give us granola treats, or something.
Cartman: Yeah, granola pisses me off.
In a Baby Looney Tunes episode, the babies go trick or treating and they all get candy, except for Daffy. Strangely, Daffy keeps getting sucky treats like toothbrushes and combs from the same people who gave his friends candy. But then, it's Daffy.
Inverted in The Venture Bros. Halloween special; Sgt. Vatred gives out jumbo-sized candy bars...but only if the trick-or-treaters can make it to the front door. The Venture compound's security system is left on, making it a literal Death Course.
When Cow and Chicken wear business suits for Halloween, the guy at the first house accuses them of not wearing a costume and refuses to give them anything. The guy at the next house (a mansion) thinks they're ordinary adults and gives them job application forms.
Chicken: I don't need no job. I need candy!
The Gravity Falls episode "Summerween" has a joke about unpopular "loser candy" such as Mr. Adequatebar, Gummi Chairs, and Homework: The Candy. It also turns out that the Summerween Trickster is the embodiment of all those rejected candies.
Bob's Burgers - the kids' first trick-or-treat outing without Bob has them getting truly lame treats from the local merchants - fortune cookies, number tags from the deli 'so they can be first in line', packets of taco sauce - so they head for the greener pastures of the island where all the rich families live.