Halloween Candy Tricks Traded for Treats

It’s later this evening and your little pumpkin, goblin, or fairy comes waltzing through the door with pounds of artificial sweetener, sugar, imitation flavoring, and chemicals. Translation: It’s Halloween folks.

Though the excitement, fun costumes, and tradition can be quite the treat, where is the trick hiding? It’s likely hiding in the pounds of well-packaged and perfectly marketed products your kiddo is toting.

Wall Street Journal writer Bonnie Rochman reported Wednesday on parents and researchers coming together to understand why kids crave sweet flavors and how to handle this sugar-charged time of year.

To begin, it’s important to understand why children crave sweet flavors, sugary, and “sugar-ish” flavors. According to Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, children have a preference for sweet foods because of the density of their taste buds.

Wansink explains that, “Children have the same number of taste buds as adults, but their tongues are a whole lot smaller, so the flavors are more intense the younger you are.”

From that, it then makes sense that sweeter foods are then preferred to over-powering bitter or sour tastes. This alone can make the sweet Halloween holiday quite a struggle for many parents.

Although obesity or weight gain is top of mind with many national campaigns, it’s not a concern for many pediatricians for a single night’s indulgences. It’s dental health that consistently is referenced as a concern during this time of year.

Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association explained that the abundant intake of candy isn’t necessarily an issue for a single night but it’s the several weeks of sticky caramels and chewy toffees that can be quite detrimental as trick-or-treaters consume every bit of loot.

Pile of caramel candy

Ideally, Shenkin suggests that parents toss the sticky treats and opt for candy like chocolate with less potential for becoming stuck in youngsters’ teeth. The hidden bits can lead to a significant amount of damage over time.

In light of some of the complications Halloween can pose, many parents, dentists, and retailers are coming up with creative options for the post trick-or-treating loot. It may be a bit untraditional but it’s a great way to create new, healthy habits and an opportunity for children to understand the importance of good dental health.

Check out a few of the creative ideas parents are implementing for leftover Halloween spoils.

The Alternatives:

Trade your children their bag of candy for toys or gift cards to their favorite store. This form of payment works as a chance to educate your children on the value of bartering and you can explain why a jump rope may be a better option than 30 chocolate bars.

Many dentists are helping parents out in educating youngsters about the importance of good dental health. In the days around Halloween, many dentists will trade kids their candy for money or prizes. Be sure to give your dentist a call and see if he or she is offering this sort of program.

Chocolate Candies

Concerned about the artificial ingredients in many of your youngster’s treats? Contact your local health food store and see if they are trading traditional candy for naturally flavored and sweetened versions. This is also a great opportunity to treat your kids to the secret of naturally sweetened treats.

Many community and sports centers offer candy-free Halloween events. Instead of trick-or-treating, your kiddos can play games, participate in contests, and compete with friends for small prizes that do not include sugar-charged confections.

Halloween is a great time for neighborhood gatherings, family fun, and good, old-fashioned fright. With a little creative thinking, let trick-or-treating play a lesser role and make new traditions the star of this year’s festivities.

Have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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