Taking the fun out of Halloween

Meant to blog about this last week...just so darn busy.

There was a TV advertisement that was running last week that was recommending that people give out sugar-free candies at Halloween. I forget who was running the ad. Probably some dental association using reverse psychology on us like the tobacco companies with their no smoking campaigns. In the advertisements, they showed some cute kids brushing their teeth (good! brush up kiddies!) and they also showed a guy greeting trick-or-treaters with sugar free mints. What a killjoy. Even I wanted to egg this guy's fictitious house.

What the heck is going on? When I was growing up, we never really had sugar in the house. We are more of a salty/savory household. We did occasionally have ice cream but my dad could take care of that in a sitting or 2 and I was lucky to get my spoon into the container (and alas, I now have trouble digesting high fat dairy...so all's well). We didn't have dessert with dinner unless we went out to eat. One time when we were in Lake Tahoe at a casino restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet and my dad thought it would be funny to let me eat 3 chocolate mousses. My mom didn't think the trail of vomit out of the casino was that amusing. I'm not sure what they were thinking; as a kid, I was a notorious gagger, well known among the relatives. I've barfed in some of the finest places in town (OK, they weren't that fine but they were many).

Anyhoo, the sweets were a rare indulgence. We NEVER had candy in the house. "Cavities" were the de facto reason for the lack of sugar in the Hamilton household. So while my parents weren't religious about the sugar thing, it just was not part of our daily lives (much like my life today). Today, I just don't buy the stuff and that keeps me from eating it. It's a strategy that worked when I was a kid and it works (most of the time) today.

But when it came to Halloween, the candy was eaten. It was eaten in massive quantity until stomach aches commenced. Because that is what you do on Halloween. I'm still of the mind that if you absolutely restrict something, it makes the kids just want it more. If it's seen as a rare treat, they appreciate it when they get it.

I may be a bit biased because Halloween is a favorite holiday of mine (because it doesn't require one to do something one does not want to do), but sugar free candy, especially breath mints, suck all the fun out of Halloween. Also, the non-sugar sweeteners can cause stomach turbulence. Yay...abdominal cramping.

I understand people being concerned about childhood obesity. I see kids classes taking place at the gym and it seems like a good idea to me. Too much time in front of the TV or computer can be  a problem (again, I have no kids so it's my unqualified opinion). But I think we need to find ways to combat these kinds of issues and still let kids be kids. Halloween is one of the few days out of the year where I find it totally acceptable to let your kids get all hopped up on sugar and run around buck wild. Set rules on how much of the candy they can eat (and give the rest to a food bank) and make sure they brush before bed, but sugar free mints? Are you kidding me?

Comments (11)

  1. tod hilton says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Anyone who hands out sugar-free candy or veggie packs [I even received a few of these as a kid…25+ years ago] should have their house egged! Let the kids have some fun and enjoy the holiday.

    Although, now that we have a bag full of candy in our house [also not our norm] our daughter is getting pretty whiny asking for candy all the time. Trying to regulate the intake isn’t as easy as I had hoped it would bie. :-

  2. Derek Bigelow says:

    It wasn’t long ago that I was all dressed up as ::ahem:: Optimus Prime, strolling the streets in pursuit of the sweet stuff.  The thing that irked me were the people with the home-made treats like popcornballs.  Who are they kidding?  Give me my Snickers, old man.

  3. Vicki says:

    It could almost be equated to the kids that come around with a Unicef container… you KNOW they were coerced to go door-to-door with a collection can and not ask for a bag of M&Ms or a Clark Bar! (Yes, again with the age-appropriate 70’s and 80’s references! LOL!) Not that Unicef is bad — just a kind of guilt trip I think. There are better venues then Halloween night to get a few cents for kids that need it… I’m just sayin’….

    Last year my kids were given toothbrushes from one of our neighbors… gee… thanks Mr. NoFun! He did have his pumpkins smashed…….(no, we had NOTHING to do with it… I’m just glad that forensics didn’t get involved)… This year, the only weird treat the kids received were graham crackers… that’s acceptable.

    They weren’t sugar free or filled with Splenda. They still have intact pumpkins to my knowledge. . .

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    tod- is there any chance she will forget it’s there or is it calling her name in the middle of the night like dark chocolate does to me? Seriously, it can wake me out of a dead sleep.

    Derek-OK, this might be a generational thing but I have no clue what Optimus Prime is. I agree on the home-made treats. Whose parents would allow them to eat non-packaged stuff anyway? When I was a kid we used to hear warnings about razor blades in apples (probably urban myths) and I would think "are you kidding me? Why would I waste my time with an apple when there’s all this candy?" Having said that, I do love popcorn balls.

    Vicki- I did give to the UNICEF kids (only 2 this year) but I have a big bowl of chance by the door for employing my pockets into when I come home (I hate carrying change). These smart little gals got the candy in hand first and then asked if I’d *also* like to cintribute to UNICEF. Little smarties. Graham crackers are a little weird…think the person ran out of candy?

  5. tod hilton says:

    Oh no, we couldn’t be that lucky. She remembers all that yummy candy that she gleefully dumped all over her Grandma’s kitchen floor. It’s definitely calling her name. 🙂

    You don’t know Optimus Prime?  OMG!  Hint: Transformers.

  6. Steinkamp says:

    Okay – When my kids were done trick or treating I did the unfortunately necessary candy safety inspection.  I came across candy valentine hearts (you know the kind with little messages on them).  It was obvious that someone was giving out eight month old Valentines Day candy.  When I turned the bag over there was a note that said  – TO: Alicia FROM: Megan.


  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    tod hilton- I know this is going tocome as a surprised but I think I need to tell you since we are friends….I’m a girl. Also, Transformers came out when I was in high school. Anyone in my high school that was playing with Transformers would have needed a bodyguard on his way home from school. : )

    Steinkamp- I take it your little girl is neither Alicia nor Megan. I think that people should publicly disclose their candy choices. For the record, I didn’t want chocolate inthe house so my candy bowl was full of SweetTarts (the bigger kind) and Jolly Ranchers suckers. Gross to me but kids really seem to like that stuff. Now I have left-overs that I am going to have to get rid of. Maybe Ican send them to your neighbor for next year.

  8. tod hilton says:

    You’re a girl? WTF? 🙂

    And I never said I played with Transformers "action figures," but I was "aware" of the cartoon. Although I won’t say (or admit) how even though I too was in high school at the time.  And no, I didn’t need a bodyguard on my way home from school. Pfft.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Haha…you had to actually "watch" the cartoon to get the names. That’s not awareness, that’s full-on watching. You’ve blown your cover!

  10. Derek Bigelow says:

    You know Heather, there’s a new Transformers live-action movie coming out next year if you want to educate yourself on the mid 80’s cartoon culture :]

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, I don’t think so : ) It’s funny, I was thinking about kids movies yesterday because they release so many animated movies during the holidays. I have never seen an animated moving in a theater. The last movie I saw that might fall under the "live-action" heading (as I pretend I know what that means) is the muppets movie I saw with my grnadparents when I was about 7. That year, I also saw Star Wars. The original one.

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