Halloween in the Age of Obesity

Trick or treat was once all about the candy. Has that changed?

By Jessica Voelker October 21, 2010

When I first started reading this AP article about avoiding candy on Halloween, I made a yuck face.

When I was a kid, the worst thing that could happen on Halloween—not counting the horror movie scenarios, of course, or the likely possibility that a thuggy tween might pelt you in the back with a raw egg—was that you’d get a little red packet of raisins tossed into your plastic jack-o-lantern. That was a rarity. Most of our neighbors stuck to the basics: Reese’s cups, those natty little Hershey’s miniatures, the ubiquitous Snickers. In the best case scenario you happened upon a house with a basket of goodies on the doorstep, a note reading "please take one" afixed to it. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Once my orange globe of goodness was brimming with sugar treats I’d return home, where my candy was immediately confiscated, then doled out in one fun-size portion at a time until it was gone. That’s how concerned parents did it back then. You didn’t take away the fun, you controlled it.

Now here is this piece of writing suggesting people give kids a packet of oatmeal? Fruit snacks? A bottle of water? At first it struck me as hopelessly naive—born of the same out-of-touch spirit with which my neighbors offered up those tiny boxes of sticky raisins—but then it occurred to me that maybe I was the one who was out of touch. I don’t have kids, and I live in a largely kid-free neighborhood. Nobody comes trick-o-treating to my apartment door. And I imagine in some Seattle neighborhoods these days, it might be considered gauche to hand out candy with ingredients first developed in a Department of Defense experiment, to hand out anything containing refined sugars at all.

I guess I’m curious, parents. In the era of bananas in vending machines, is handing out candy a Halloween no-no?

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