One of my favorite columnists, Tammy Swift, recently wrote about Halloween candies people should avoid buying for trick-or-treaters. While I agree with some of her choices (Neco Wafers have the chalky taste of Tums without their beneficial effect, and while candy corn is cute, it is utterly flavorless), there were a few candies that I thought didn’t deserve to be on the “Ick or treat” list.
Here are a few candies I’d like to take off the “Ick” list:
1. Blue-raspberry flavored candy. Even if you don’t like the flavor, they turn your mouth a blue color not generally found in nature, and to an eight-year-old this is the coolest thing ever.
2. Tootsie Rolls. These are not a top-tier candy, a status reserved for Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Milk Duds and the like. That said, they are a solid second-tier candy, and after the real chocolate is gone, you could always count on the Tootsie Rolls to go next, long before the hard candy and off-brands.
3. Raisins. While getting nothing but raisins would be a tragedy, getting a box or two of them with all the candy was all right. They’re plenty sweet, and I always ate mine. They’re chewy and sweet and given the packaging, are about as much like candy as “fruit” can get.
There are a few love-it-or-hate-it candies that should only be offered as a choice among options.
1. Good-n-Plenty: These delicious pellets of black licorice goodness are not popular with children, because they are, in fact, black licorice.
As a small child I believed black licorice had personally been invented by Satan just to torture people who had been expecting real candy.
Now I could probably snarf down three or four of those tiny magenta candy boxes full of bitter deliciousness in about thirty seconds–but Halloween is for kids, right?
2. Almond Joy, Mounds, and anything with coconut. I love coconut. Almond Joys and Mounds were both top-tier candies for me. But coconut is often a love-it-or-hate-it thing, and the kids who hate coconut really, really hate coconut. Give them an opt-out candy, please.
3. Midnight Snickers, and anything with dark chocolate. To me, nothing is better
than dark chocolate. I valued the very, very rare bits of dark chocolate that made their way into my jack’o'lantern pail each year, and ate them nibble by tiny nibble, making them last as long as possible. However, like coconut, dark chocolate is not generally a kiddie favorite, and alternatives should definitely be provided.
4. Peanut butter anything. Yeah, almost everyone loves peanut butter. It’s practically un-American not to like peanut butter. Plus, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are pretty much the Cadillac of Halloween candies. I understand that totally. That said, for the one out of a million kids who passionately hate peanut butter, providing them with an alternative is kindness beyond measure.
The Totally Unacceptable Candy
As a kid, there were few candies I really strongly disliked, but anything with peanut butter flavoring topped the list. I even hated Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which are incredibly popular.
No, I’m not putting them on the “bad” list. Besides, my brother was always very happy to trade for my peanut butter candies.
The all-time worst Halloween candy has to be those little waxy peanut-butter-flavored taffy-like blobs that come in orange and black twists. They’re horrible. The texture is horrible. The flavor is horrible. Everything about them except the packaging is horrible. In fact, the packaging may be more edible than the candies.
These peanut butter pellets were the candies that were left at the bottom of the bucket when everything edible was gone. These were the only candies that no one in my whole house liked. These candies are good for one thing only, and that is throwing them at siblings. Even then, Gobstoppers are more aerodynamic.
(Note: There may be a few people out there who like the peanut butter pellets. They are probably pod people deployed by Martians to take over the world.)
Alternatives to Candy
One of the commenters on Swift’s story offered up a few fun suggestions for candy alternatives– options for people who don’t want to give out sugary, fattening and generally nutritionally unwise treats.
1. Pencils. Can’t go wrong with educational tools, right? And you can get all sorts of fun patterns and things, quite cheaply and in bulk.
2. Stickers or temporary tattoos. Everyone loves stickers. Make sure they’re gender-neutral!
3. Packages of hot cocoa. I think you can get these sugar-free. Might be a little pricey, but it’s still fun, at least.
And here are more alternatives from about.com:
4. Sugar-free gum. Sugar-free stuff used to taste like cardboard, but it’s gotten pretty decent. And kids do like gum, as long as it’s not that hard kind that goes flavorless after five minutes of chewing.
5. Halloween party favors. I remember giving out spider rings at some point, but noisemakers, vampire teeth, bouncy balls or bottles of bubble solution would work too.
What do you think? What candies should be avoided at all costs, and what candies were your favorites for trick-or-treat?