Don’t worry. I’m not here to lecture you on the demonic nature that is “Halloween candy.” I’m not going to tell you to not to buy candy for your local trick-or-treaters (please, please don’t be the house in the neighborhood that gives out pennies!) or to prohibit your children (or yourself) from eating candy. What I am going to do is encourage you to read the nutrition labels of the stuff you’re buying before giving it out to your neighbors, children, or even before enjoying it yourself.
It is predicted that Americans will spend $2.6 billion on just candy for Halloween. Approximately 160 million Americans will buy candy for Halloween. That’s a lot of candy and a lot households for children to hit up for trick-or-treating. According to the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, a trick-or-treater’s average candy haul contains anywhere from 3,500-7,000 calories. According to that same report, “it would take an average 100lbs child 44 hours of walking or or 14.5 hours of playing full court basketball to burn off the amount of calories in the candy collected on Halloween.” According to another report, the standard pillowcase can hold almost 1,700 pieces of candy! I’m not telling you this because I want to fat shame you or your children. I’m telling you this to demonstrate the sheer volume of candy that walks into your house each year for just Halloween.
We’re talking about hundreds to thousands of pieces of candy per trick-or-treater. Forget about the calories. That matters, but that’s not the only troublesome aspect. Think about the content of these little pieces of wrapped sugary goodness. Seriously. Go take a look at the list of ingredients on the back of one of these little suckers. Do you even know what half of that stuff is? No?
A general rule of thumb is that if you can’t recognize the ingredient, don’t eat it. Having said that, the most common toxic and inflammatory ingredients to look out for are:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners
- Preservatives – including sodium, benzoate, sulfites (sulfur dioxide), polysorbate 60, 65, or 80, nitrites, TBHQ, and BHT/BHA
- For those of you who have gluten intolerances or loved ones with gluten intolerances, gluten may be listed as maltodextrin, modified food starch, caramel coloring or flavoring, citric acid, and “natural flavorings”
Guess where you can find a good chunk of these toxic and inflammatory ingredients? All of the heavy hitter candy companies are guilty of selling and marketing products with these ingredients in them. MARS (Mars, M&M’s, Snickers, Bounty, Milky Way, Twix, etc.), Hershey (Hershey’s, Krackel, PayDay, Almond Joy, Mounds, etc.), Nestle (KitKat, Orion, etc.), and Haribo (Goldbears, Happy Cherries, Happy Cola, etc.) are just to name a few.
I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy candy once in awhile. Just be mindful about the brands and type of candies that you’re choosing to treat yourself and your loved ones to. Key terms or ingredients to look for when searching for quality products are follows:
- 100% Organic and USDA Certified Organic ingredients
- 75% chocolate or higher (the darker, the better)
- Maple Syrup
- Colors derived from beets, turmeric, carrots, and other fruits and veggies
Here are a few brands that boast cleaner ingredients and can function as alternatives to the more popular trick-or-treat sweets:
- Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups and Mini Peanut Butter Cups
- Hu Kitchen Chocolate Bar Varieties
- Perfect Snacks Peanut Butter Cups
- YumEarth and Black Forest Organic Gummy and/or Licorice Varieties
Recently, Hershey’s has released “cleaner” options to their original staples such as Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Organic Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. While this is a great development, it begs the question, “why not just produce better products?” Why include the options with the poor ingredients in the first place?
Many of these brands can be found in your local supermarkets and CVS-type stores, so they’re not all that difficult to track down.
If you can, consider switching out your traditional trick-or-treat snacks for one of the organic options. Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. The cost of the candy may be higher, but the health and well-being of the children in your household and neighborhood is worth it, right? The more people in your neighborhood that make the switch, the higher the chance that your children will return home for a night of trick-or-treating with better quality goodies. Plus, if you have any leftover candy at the end of the night, it won’t be any of that junk that makes you feel guilty for indulging in once in awhile.
How do you feel about this? Have you tried any of the “clean” brands that I’ve mentioned above? How did they compare with the originals? Are there other brands you’ve tried and enjoyed, but I haven’t included? Post them in the comments below so that we can share them with the community!