The earliest known citation of trick or treat in print is from an item in the Oregon newspaper The Oregon Journal, 1st November 1934, headed ‘Halloween Pranks Keep Police on Hop’:
“Other young goblins and ghosts, employing modern shakedown methods, successfully worked the ‘trick or treat’ system in all parts of the city.”
Interesting that the phrase is enclosed in quotes there, although the snippet view I got back then of a quote from the Helena Independent, from 2nd November 1934, seemed to indicate the phrase had been around a while. (Although without full access I was unable to confirm that one.)
....... we are here for the usual purpose, ‘TRICK OR TREAT.’ This is the old demand ..........
Can anyone with access to the Newspaper Archive check that possible 1933 sighting which jim (jpgorman64) mentioned in the thread, and has anything earlier turned up anywhere with all the fresh resources that have come online since then? (OED has nothing earlier than 1947.)