Trick or Treasure


This weekend is Nora’s first Halloween (or at least the first one that counts – we decided she was too tiny to dress up last year) and I had way too much fun putting together her costume.

She is all ladybugged out from head to toe.It’s so adorable, I can hardly stand it.  And best of all, in true Nantucket fashion, she has plenty of opportunities to show off her red and black, starting tonight at a Community School Halloween potluck, which we went to with Mr. T and his mama and dada.(Mr. T was dressed as a bee, which was made them quite the buggy pair.)

The potluck was fun, but the big day is Sunday with a parade downtown and trick-or-treating at the shops.  We’re especially excited, because Chris got the day off and will be there too!

But there is one Halloween thing I’m not so excited about: candy.  Piles and piles of candy.

Last year around this time, there was a post on the Motherload blog asking how people deal with candy and I spent a lot of time reading through the comments to see how people feel about candy and what their strategy is for prying it from the grasp of their sugar-loving children.  It seems there are two camps: those who think people should lighten up already and just let their kids eat whatever they want, because it’s a holiday and once a year and one of the joys  of childhood; and those who have elaborate strategies to convince their kids to give it up (or forget about it).  Did you know the tooth fairy does more than just give money for teeth?  Apparently in some families she brings toys in exchange for Halloween candy.

When I was a kid, my mom made us all combine our candy and then she doled it out a piece at a time after dinner for about a month or so, when we either forgot to ask for some, or she started to tell us it was too old and had gone bad.  Chris came from a family where he controlled his candy – how much and when he ate it – even though his mom’s a dentist.  After reading the post last year, we talked a little bit about strategy, but decided to wait until we were actually faced with “fun-sized” corn-syrup filled “treats” to make the call.

And in the year it took Nora to turn from this into thisI got a lot more strict about candy (and edible crap of all sorts).

So strict, that I’m just not going to let her eat candy this year, I’m also not going to give it to other kids.  Yes, we are going to be the lame house (or so Chris says) that hands out something other than candy.Tops, rings, rulers, temporary tattoos, fireman badges, eye patches, and stampers.  The middle schoolers are going to hate us.  But they shouldn’t be trick or treating anyway…boy, I really am the Halloween scrooge.

But the thing is, it isn’t just Halloween, and it’s not like people are handing out Yummy Earth lollipops and fair-trade 70% chocolate.  As Christina from Spoonfed said, in a recent post about candy insanity:

It’s not just one day a year. It’s Halloween night and class parties and community events and then the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day and Easter and birthday parties and swimming class and soccer games and the bank and the shoe store and restaurants with kid menus and the grandparents’ house and anyplace else kids set foot, including, of course, school. The sugar culture is so strong, the highly processed foodstuffs so epidemic, that we no longer have the luxury of viewing these things in isolation. It’s not just a few Halloween treats or one blue cupcake. It’s a crushing pile of chemical-laden pseudo food. And at some point we just have to make it stop.

So, we didn’t buy candy to give out.  We also didn’t buy candy to eat at home, because we are working on modeling good food choices (very important now that she wants a bite of everything we eat).  What candy Nora gets this year is going one of two places: to work with Chris or in the trash.  As she gets older, we’ll try to follow Christina’s example of sorting out the best of the worst (only keeping pieces without trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial colors) and we’ll talk to Nora about why we don’t eat the rest.  Maybe we’ll use some of it to do candy experiments, but we definitely won’t be in the camp that lets our kid eat as much as she wants of whatever she wants. 

I’m sure there will be some challenging Halloweens in out future, but hopefully she’ll appreciate her mama’s funny food rules someday.

How do you handle Halloween candy (or candy any other time of the year)?  If you do let your kids eat candy, are there only certain kinds or is anything fair game?  When did you let them start?

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3 responses

  1. Rachel Dowling Avatar
    Rachel Dowling

    Bravo, Amber! I love this blog, and admire your courage to face the candy culture head on. Thanks for the (nutritious) food for thought.

  2. Megan Metcalf Avatar
    Megan Metcalf

    Our candy was…
    1. Sorted and about half thrown out or claimed as “taxes” by Dad.
    2. Put on top of the fridge where we couldn’t reach it.
    3. Doled out in an allowance sort of fashion.
    4. Eventually thrown out for having “gone bad”.

    Our neighborhood was TEEMING with kids, and our pumpkins were typically stuffed to the lip. That’s a LOT of candy.

    Toys aren’t lame!! It’s a nice change-up. I like it.

  3. They are as cute as 2 bugs in a rug. Mim

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