Halloween: costumes, jack ‘o lanterns and candy. It used to be one night of fun for kids and chaos for parents, whose reward was sneaking candy out of their kids’ bags for the next two weeks. Now it’s a yearly exercise in political correctness, nowhere more obvious than the onslaught of Food Police-y ideas about making Halloween healthy. Here’s my professional advice for those people: get a life.
Nevertheless, plenty of do-gooders will hand out apples, raisins, hard-boiled eggs (gah!), toothbrushes or some other cheerless stuff to the little trick or treaters. Most of it will end up in the trash. At best, if the parents are handy in the kitchen, the apples might end up in a pie. So you’ve essentially bought groceries for some stranger.
Halloween is all about candy, and apparently the junkier the better. This is actually a good thing, because few kids want to actually eat that stuff, and most parents are happy to just toss it the next day. One possible use is for a math lesson: sort out and count up the different candy varieties, and then graph them to see what was most popular this year. Older children could work up a spreadsheet and keep records over the years.
Here’s another good thing about the current crop of Halloween candies: they come in tiny sizes. I’d say they’re about 1/3 the size of the candy bars I remember, although they probably cost 3 times as much. Think of it as a lesson in portion control: today’s tiny-sized candy bars are an appropriate size for a sweet treat. As long as you don’t conclude “well, they’re small, so I can eat 2 or 3 or …”. If you have leftovers, they make convenient energy snacks for winter sports like cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snow shoeing. Put them in the freezer for safe-keeping, to prevent mindless snacking.
Lest you still truly believe the average consumer is desperate to embrace healthy treats, and is just waiting for food companies to get on the bandwagon, consider Necco Wafers, a mainstay of Halloweens-past. Two years ago, Necco decided to go natural, using only natural food-based colors for the iconic candies, to capitalize on the supposed mass demand for healthy treats. Result: dreary gray wafers, open rebellion by customers and falling sales. Necco has now gone back to it’s original mission: selling colored Necco wafers.
If you’re not willing to hand out little candy bars, here’s an idea: don’t hand out anything. Turn off the lights and don’t answer the doorbell. If you’re a parent terrified of Halloween candy, here’s an idea: throw the candy away. Either all at once, or a few pieces every day, until it’s gone. Of, if your kids like to make gingerbread houses during the holidays, put the candy out of sight, and bring it out in December for gingerbread house decorations. Candy corn, spice drops and any of the little brightly colored candies, including Necco Wafers, make great decorations. Once they’re glued to a gingerbread house, no one is going to eat them.