By now parents have raided their kids’ Halloween bags and squirreled away the goodies they like. Children have bartered their candy, swapping less desirable treats for more favorable brands between their siblings and friends.
As a nation, Americans spent $2.7 billion on candy this season. While customs vary community to community, the basic premise remains: children (often adults too and lots of teenagers), dress in costumes and go door -to -door saying “Trick or Treat.”
Don’t get me wrong. As a kid, I loved Halloween. We made our costumes and my mother would drive us up and down our rural street. As a teenager, I remember visiting thrift shops to put together costumes and going out with friends. My own children loved the holiday and I certainly availed myself of sweets from their haul.
But each year I like this holiday less and less. I grumble when older kids grab handfuls and don’t say thank you and call a mask or some make-up a costume. In one town we lived in, people would drive from all over to invade our street. It was level and well lit, so kids could hit a lot of houses in a short time. Every year we ran out of candy and I’d end up borrowing from my kids’ loot after they returned.
Now hardly anyone comes. Perhaps more people are attending community gatherings. Or our street isn’t as level or as well lit as the previous one. I still buy some candy, just in case, and deliberately select brands I won’t eat myself if left with entire bags.
It’s the leftover candy that’s the problem. Years ago, dentists began a buyback campaign, offering to pay their patients for unopened candy to reduce the increase in tooth decay and obesity. We all know we don’t need extra sugar.
They then donate the candy to charities that distribute the sweets to military based overseas who consume what they want and then give away what remains to local children.
So if all that sugar is bad for US kids, isn’t it equally bad for others?
Let’s rethink Halloween. No one collects for UNICEF (I used to) and apples can’t be given for fear of embedded razor blades. The threat of dangerous objects continues to be a concern. The day after Halloween, a New Jersey newswire reported a few cases of needles and pins found inside candy in several locations. Candy in excess is bad for our health, our kids’ health, our overseas service- peoples’ health and the health of children in foreign countries.