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‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ at 50: Peanuts Creator’s Daughter Recalls Giving Real Halloween Rocks

In case you’re one of the few Americans who hasn’t seen “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” a well-known gag in the long-running television special involves Charlie getting rocks for Halloween instead of candy.

“Every once and a while my sister and I thought it’d be fun to give somebody a rock,” Jill Schulz, the youngest daughter of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, told TheWrap of her own childhood memories from Halloween.

She spoke in honor of the 50th anniversary of the half-hour television special, which has aired to top ratings every year since it debuted in 1966.

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“I’m pretty sure they knew we were joking,” she added of her real-life Halloween rock prank.

Dressed in his awkward, homemade ghost costume during a neighborhood trick-or-treat escapade with friends, Charlie Brown famously exclaims “I got a rock!” every time he peers into his Halloween candy sack. Unlike Peppermint Patty, Sally and Pig-Pen, who get gobs of sugary treats, Charlie’s the one who gets tricked.

When the special first aired, the sequence had young fans feeling so bad for Charlie, they mailed piles of candy to CBS. (The special now airs on ABC, with this year’s special set for this Wednesday Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.)

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Jill Schulz remembers that her father, who died in 2000 at age 77, got candy delivered to his own small studio in Sebastopol, California, too.

“I remember him telling me and chuckling about it, that people were feeling bad for Charlie Brown and sending the candy,” Schulz recalled.

“I asked him, are you eating it? He said, ‘No. I think other people in the office will take it home,’” she said. “I don’t remember ever getting to eat it.”

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But Schulz was clear, she and her siblings were never deprived of sweets while they were growing up.

“My parents were from Minnesota, so there was always plenty of ice cream, Hostess cupcakes, Dolly Madison — one of the first sponsors of the Peanuts specials,” she pointed out.

Schulz said the house was always stocked with Dolly Madison cakes — which she presumed were free gifts from the company. The Schulz family would also receive regular deliveries of Coca-Cola — another sponsor of the Charlie Brown television specials.

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“Even to this day, I still drink Coke if I am going to drink soda,” she told TheWrap with a chuckle.

When it comes to the longevity of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” Schulz cited her famous father: “My dad would say there’s nothing wrong with keeping a little innocence out there.”

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