Bobbing for Apples

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As part of The Masquerade, the University of Life party games project, this entry deals with Bobbing for Apples.

Bobbing for Apples1 is without a doubt the most important aspect of any Halloween party. It is also played in the south of England in the summer, where they are lucky enough to enjoy enough sunshine to actually grow apples themselves. Simple yet affective, this harmless pastime is an absolute gem of the physical-aptitude-requiring-party-game genre.

Aim of the game

To obtain an apple from a container of water by bobbing for it. Use of hands,
feet, or other appendages is not allowed - the methods of appple extraction are limited
souly to those which involve your mouth. This does of course mean that participants are
highly likely to get their faces and, depending on the size of the water container,
upper torsos wet.


1) A big tub, bath, barrel, or similar water proof container.

2) A lot of relatively clean water.

3) An area of floor in which to place the container (henceforth called the tub) which is not
valued too highly by the hosts - the area around the tub is liable to get extremely
wet and also muddy if the participants are still wearing their shoes, so one's favourite
Persian rug is probably not the best venue for this game, whereas a patch of garden
may be considered ideal.

4) Apples a plenty. Apples with a reasonable sized stalk are often preferred by the more
faint hearted participants, but they are not necessary.


Place plenty of apples and lots of water into the tub. People now take it in turns to try and obtain an apple from the tub, using their mouths only. In order to create a competitive edge to the game, timing each person and giving the fastest person to gain an
apple some form of prize is worthy of consideration. Another variant is for the hosts to insert a coin into one apple, and whoever gets that apple wins a prize.


Stalking the floaters

Much favoured by the aforementioned faint hearted, this involves bending down so that one's face is just above the water, and chasing a floating apple around the tub with your teeth and tongue in order to grab hold of the stalk with your teeth, thus liberating the apple from the water by gently easing yourself into an upright position. Skilled "Stalkers" are sometimes able to give "Bobbers" a run for their money.

The Bob

This, as they say, is the proverbial it. The only option for Bobbing for Apples die-hards, the Bob should consistently out-perform Stalking. This move is really what the game is all about (check out the name), and involves getting seriously wet if the tub is as
big as it should be:

Select an apple large enough to be bit into by your widely opened mouth, but not so big that
it can not be bitten into by your widely opened mouth. Then dive into the tub2, opening your
mouth widely (surprise surprise), and surrounding as much of the apple as possible, drive it down
to the bottom of the tub, and, using the extra support the bottom gives you, take a big bite into
the apple and flip yourself upright. This motion should be smooth and speedy, in and out, and if
performed correctly, will resemble the bobbing motion of water birds searching for food.

The Aftermath

Depending on the cruelty of the hosts and the nature of the party, several options are available
after an apple has been successfully procured. Handing the participants a towel and congratulating them is one, rather soft option, or there is the slightly messier, but undeniably humourous
second option whereby a second bobbing tub is set up in the vicinity of the first. This tub should be a lot smaller - a large salad bowl would be ample, and contain a mixture of flour and
small sweets3 (seperately wrapped by preference). Anyone going immediately from the apple and water tub to the flour and sweets tub will of course end up completely plastered in sticky wet flour. Wonderful.

1Also known as ducking for apples2A touch of
bravado may be shown at this point by clasping hands behind ones back rather than using them
to lever your body in and out of the tub
3Also known as candy

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