Boo! Why Halloween candy doesn’t scare me

halloween candyBrace yourself. It’s the spooky…creepy…bucket of candy! Here comes the Jolly Rancher apocalypse. My teeth already ache.

Once a wee lad incapable of bringing home dangerous amounts of bounty, my 8-year old is now revved up and ready for the hunt. His target is not a 12-point buck, but an oversized jack-o-lantern pail. His goal; fill it to the brim with free candy.

Childhood sugar fixes

Halloween is an event where this kale-serving mother looks the other way, pretending she doesn’t see that red ring of high fructose corn syrup circling her son’s mouth.

She figures his diet most of the year balances out these days of intense unhealthiness.

I respect all of the clever non-candy alternatives to Halloween, I really do. But I choose to allow my son the opportunity to dress up like an “evil dementor ghost of Gryffindor”, run maniacally around the neighborhood with his BFF, the Dark Knight, and beg strangers for candy.

Besides, he shares.

I eat all the chocolate off the edges of a Three Musketeers before enjoying that fluffy nougat center for myself.

Unfortunately, the candy seems to have gotten grosser and smaller. Every year you think that bucket will return laden with fun-sized Butterfingers and their good friends, Baby Ruth and Dark Chocolate Milky Way.

Alas, most of it is old, hard Now & Laters, those chalky “lollipops” and the peanut butter taffy in black and orange wax paper that I’ve hated since childhood.

Fortunately, this makes the candy easier to throw out. Yes, throw it out.

Minimizing the candy intake

Groovy Green Livin’ just posted a nice piece on the truth about Halloween candy, specifically about high fructose corn syrup. They also offer handy ideas for ditching the massive sugar binge altogether. You may think Groovy Green’s livin’ is in a crazy dream world, and that there’s no way that would work in your house on Halloween.


Collecting the candy doesn’t mean it must all end up in the belly. We’ve had the most success with label-reading. Learning how much is crammed into bad food actually entertains my son. Because of his regular, relatively healthy eating habits, he is repulsed by certain candy.  He’s particularly leery of food dyes, Red #40 and its evil cousins, Yellow #5 and Blue #2.

He does a mom proud when he tosses the Fun Dip after only a few licks. Can’t blame the kid for “testing” it. I’m actually surprised at the amount he decides to throw out.

We also make it last. We limit his candy-eating to a couple of favorites each day. What remains after two weeks usually gets tossed. Not one tear is shed for those chalky lollipops.

Label reading and quality control make Halloween a little less scary in this house. Do you let your kids go trick or treating? How do you handle the influx of sugar this time of year?

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About Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a freelance writer with nearly 20 years of experience in community health education, non-profit program management and mental health counseling. Amy works on projects that promote greener, healthier living through pragmatic approaches. She is an avid fan of reality therapy, small town farmers markets and dishing out home cooking with unsolicited advice. You can also follow Amy’s adventures in realistic wellness.