Taking the Fright Out of Halloween Candy


When I was growing up in the suburbs of Northern New Jersey, I envied my older brother’s long stride and teenage independence as he combed the neighborhood far and wide on Halloween, coming back with a pillowcase loaded full of treats.

The next day, after each of us five kids took an inventory of our loot, we would barter for our favorites. With his athletic ability and position at the top of the sibling ranks, Steve always hit the mother lode–from Reese’s peanut butter cups to full-sized Hershey bars, Snickers bars, Three Musketeers, and Milky Ways: “The Good Stuff.”

Where I live now, in West Michigan, we don’t get many trick-or-treaters, but the last several years I always focused on being known as one of the houses that passed out The Good Stuff. You had to have chocolate, and Reese’s were on the top of the list, likely because I lamented not getting enough of them when I was a kid.

Since I’ve been blogging, though, I started thinking about what I was handing out to these trick-or-treaters–young children for the most part–who would be bringing home their own loot. I know about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and the limitations for people with food allergies. How could I allow myself to buy that crap in the grocery store? And with so many people allergic to tree nuts and dairy products, many products often considered The Good Stuff are not even options for some trick-or-treaters.

So this year I searched the internet for Halloween candy that I thought would support the messages I’m trying to relay on this blog:

1. Avoid the crap (i.e., chemicals, preservatives, and HFCS) that’s in processed food.

2. Consider the needs of people with allergies.

3. Promote good, wholesome food, such as organic and Fair Trade treats.

Of course, I didn’t start looking seriously until the day before Halloween and by then it was too late to order what I wanted online. (The Daily Green listed lots of ideas for vegan, organic, and Fair Trade treats, but I’ll have to remember that site for next year instead.)

What I did find locally were Endangered Species Fair Trade dark chocolate and Yummy Earth organic lollipops at Harvest Health Foods, a nearby health food store.

If you buy Endangered Species chocolate, 10% of the profits get donated to help support species, habitat and humanity. And it’s 100% ethically traded, which means Endangered  Species buys their cocoa from small family-owned properties, helping sustain the habitats and communities in which they exist.

Check out the ingredients to see how allergy-friendly these chocolates are:

For the lollipops, Yummy Earth promotes organic foods that are “free of yucky chemicals, pesticides and dyes.”

They use real fruit extracts–such as mango, pomegranate, blueberry, and watermelon–as well as organic sweeteners. These satisfying treats are friendly to just about everyone, whether you have a gluten, dairy, or corn allergy. Here’s the list of their ingredients:

As one little trick-or-treater said when he came to the door, “I’ve never seen a sucker [lollipop] like that before!” I wasn’t surprised at his reaction. It’s likely he’s been raised–like the rest of us–on candy full of corn syrup and only recognizes the standard red cherry, green lime and yellow lemon colors and flavors of mainstream candy.

Don’t you think it’s time we should get the crap off the streets and give kids something healthy and tasteful? It’s time to redefine The Good Stuff.

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4 responses to “Taking the Fright Out of Halloween Candy

  1. Great post! You also don’t have to give out food at all. We offer a basket of toys, stickers, and pencils (older school kids always go for the pencils). We’ve never had a bad reaction–kids get SO much candy that they’re happy to see something different. There’s a house in our neighborhood that gives out toothbrushes and and another that gives dental floss (every year, so kids know which houses do this), and their houses are always popular.

    If you give out non-perishables, then you also don’t have to deal with leftovers. They just patiently wait in the basket till next year. When you find cheap trinkets and stickers on sale throughout the year, you can add them to the basket. That way, it’s also not expensive.

    When the son came home with his huge bag of candy, back in his trick-or-treating years, we’d let him eat as much as he wanted–for one night only. He’d take a bite out of anything he hadn’t had before, but you know, you really can’t eat too much at one time before you’re tired of it. The next day, the bag was donated (teachers’ office at the university).

    Candy isn’t what’s fun about Halloween. What’s fun is the collecting of it, and the dressing up and showing off and looking at others. All of that can happen without HFCS.

    • Great tips, Dorothy! I may have to try the dental floss and toothpaste next year! I am a big supporter of good dental health. Good to hear that kids actually appreciate those things!

      Thanks for the comment and Happy Halloween!

  2. The Endangered Species chocolate is a great idea. We have a struggle every year between ideology and kid-approved. This should bridge the gap nicely. I know they have good chocolate. Thanks.

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