Through the ages, trick-or-treaters have plotted their candy-plundering routes and quests for the Holy Grail of Halloween: the houses that give out full-sized candy bars.

This year they have a new tool.

Zillow Inc. on Thursday named Minneapolis one of the nation's best Halloween cities and released a list of its top five trick-or-treat neighborhoods.

The key: affluent residents and high-density housing.

"The walkability and density [are] key," said Lauren Riefflin of Zillow, a real estate website. "You want to cover the most ground, in the fastest time, to collect the most Halloween loot."

While the list is mostly a marketing gimmick (it didn't even examine St. Paul or the suburbs) it nonetheless raises an intriguing etiquette question: Is Halloween supposed to be a neighborhood celebration -- with kids sticking to their own streets -- or is it OK to transplant children to the "best" locations for the evening?

"I don't think anybody gets too uptight about that," said Lesley Lydell, who serves on the neighborhood council for Linden Hills -- which Zillow rated as tops in Minneapolis for trick-or-treating.

"It's all fun for the kids,'' she added. "I don't think we should get too provincial about it."

Next on the top five list: Cedar-Isles-Dean, Lynnhurst, Fulton and East Isles -- all in southwest Minneapolis. Overall, Minneapolis ranked 11th on Zillow's list of top trick-or-treating cities.

Len Schmid's Minnehaha neighborhood didn't make the top five, but he hopes to make it a destination for trick-or-treaters.

"Bus 'em in from Iowa if you want," he said. "We give out full-size candy bars in hopes of building a neighborhood reputation, and we've been encouraging our neighbors to keep their lights on and give out candy. I mean, if I were a kid and I walked by the end of a block and only saw two or three porch lights on, I'd probably give that street a miss.

"It's about efficiency when you're on a candy mission," Schmid added.

Chia Lee offered a more guarded response to a Star Tribune request on Facebook.

"I'm OK with kids outside my neighborhood coming by for treats," she wrote. "It's their night and you get to see cute kids in costumes. What gets me is when teenagers or adults, not from my neighborhood, show up late, have no costume on and expect treats."

For rural Minnesota parents, of course, taking the kids to other neighborhoods is a necessity. Heather Meuleners lives in rural Cologne, with the nearest neighbor three football fields away, so she is taking her 1- and 3-year-old kids to a friend's neighborhood in St. Bonifacius.

"We don't have a 'neighborhood,'" she said. "We have to have an adopted neighborhood every year."

Jeff Stites expects another busy Halloween in Linden Hills, which puts on a Halloween night party at a local park. The nearby historic trolley also provides "ghost rides" in days leading up to the holiday.

He agreed with the Zillow assessment; his two kids usually don't have to walk far.

"Many, many people have candy out," he said. "Even going out two or three blocks, [the kids'] bags are usually pretty full."

Schmid remembers that as a kid in Bismark, N.D., he would dress up as a robot and plot strategy with friends, including "where you're going to go to maximize your candy. Totally knew which houses gave out the best candy."

And when he had exhausted the neighborhood, Schmid said, his parents would drive him to the governor's mansion. There were always full-size candy bars there.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744