Disregarding Halloween masks and costumes for a minute, let’s talk candy:
Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, Skittles, Tootsie Pops, Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Pieces, 3 Musketeers, Charleston Chews, York Peppermint Patties, M&M’s (of all bazillion varieties), Snickers, Krackel Bars, Mr. Goodbars, Jolly Rancher Chews, Nestle SweeTarts, Nerds, Blow Pops, Nestle Crunch, Twizzlers, Twix, Whoppers, WarHeads, 100 Grand Bars, Baby Ruths, Pop Rocks, Junior Mints, Dots, Mike & Ikes, Starburst, Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, Jelly Belly Beans (again, of all bazillion flavors), Ring Pops, Fun Dip, PayDays, Heath Bars, Milk Duds, Almond Joys, Cow Tales, Raisinets—
The list goes on and on, and I’d bet that most readers know of or have eaten every single one of those candies. Hell, for many Halloween enthusiasts, wearing costumes and masks are only a means of receiving or handing out candy. These sweet morsels are the center in which all of the holiday’s activities revolve around, but there are many groups and organizations that feel this center on sugar is doing more harm than good. They have no problem with the masks or costumes, but this idea that candy must be essential for Halloween, they believe, should be changed.
As an example, a dental group in Illinois is trying to encourage kids to stop eating Halloween candy by offering money in exchange for unopened candy. In fact, they are paying as much as “a buck a pound for unopened candy.” All of this candy will then be “shipped to the men and women serving our country overseas.” Never mind the odd lesson being taught to children – e.g. that it’s okay for adults to eat candy, as long as they are serving their country – this kind of initiative is only one of many that hope to make Halloween a healthier holiday.
Even the United States government has been pushing “Halloween health” tips that target the holiday’s consumption of candy. The most recent push came on October 6, in a press release that started, “The really scary thing about Halloween can be the amount of candy that children get to eat.”
The press release then lists tips to “ensure a safe and healthy Halloween for kids,” which range from parents being the candy-hating role model by moderating their own intake of sweets, to trading a toy or allowance for a child’s candy. The former example could work, maybe, while the latter gives the child a twisted incentive for collecting candy and using it as a trade item for something else with equivalently perceived value. Wouldn’t this then reinforce a child’s belief that candy is valuable? Very odd.
The last tip this press release gives is one that this writer as a child hated more than anything: “Think about giving out non-food treats such as stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, bubbles, small games or colored pencils. If you prefer to give out candy, choose bite-sized ones and hand out dark chocolate (it has antioxidants) or hard candy (it takes longer to eat).”
Look, I understand trying to re-imagine the idea of Halloween and its obsession with candy, but if the best thing you have to replace candy with is bubbles, then you have to try a bit harder. That’s like saying you don’t agree with giving gifts on Christmas, instead handing out high-fives and positive one-liners like “You’re the man” or “Did you lose weight?”
It’s nice, I guess, but in the end you’re just an asshole.