Around this time of year, Lebanon folk will often bring up a Mischief Night/October 30 tradition of “tic-tacking”, which involves flicking corn kernels against the facade of a neighbor’s house.

Commentators in the Lebanon Valley and Lehigh Valley have suggested this tradition has local roots, but a check of the archives debunks this myth and reveals a new insight about the origins of the term.

That said, there is a kernel of truth to rumor — as a corn-growing region, ours was among the few American regions to see this practice reach the zeitgeist.

Some historic examples:

The Galesburg Enterprise, 1891 (Kansas)

Reno Gazette-Journal, 1903 (1903)

New Castle Herald, 1912 (New Castle, Pennsylvania)

The Circleville Herald, 1948 (1948)

The Alexandria Times-Tribune, 1953 (Alexandria, Indiana)

Latrobe Bulletin, 1969 (Latrobe)

In the course of researching this article, it became apparent that “tic-tacking” does not mean the same everywhere. In our region it does seem to refer to throwing shucked kernels of corn. But here’s what a Texas columnist said in 1985 regarding the term:

The Galveston Daily News, 1985 (Galveston)

Although tic-tacking is not defined in Merriam-Webster, it is in Urban Dictionary:

Do you remember tic-tacking in Lebanon? Did it ever refer to the straight pin/window prank, or was it always referring to throwing corn kernels?

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Kindly keep your comments brief and respectful. We will remove comments that do not abide by these simple rules.