October 31, 2007

Halloween Candy? Bwa ha ha...

Halloween Candy. What do you think about it?

As usual, Crabby has many opinions and also, as is customary, her opinions are totally inconsistent and contradictory!

(And by the way, Katie at Sister Skinny had some very helpful ideas to keep you from pilfering and eating all the candy collected by your adorable costumed children, should you have any).

So. We eat a ridiculous amount of sugar in this country. And holidays, whether Halloween or Christmas or Valentines Day or Easter (or probably even Memorial day by now, who knows) have become just another excuse for an Assault of Candy Marketing. As a society, we're getting fat. We don't need another damned excuse to stuff our faces full of sugar.

On the other hand...

Crabby also came across a reminder about what's cool about Halloween. (Note: the post is a long and funny one and it's also about 900 other things, including a great list of phobias that only a Truly Creative Person could harbor). Anyway, this post got Crabby remembering how much she loved Halloween as a kid.

She loved the weirdness of watching everyone, including herself, dress up in strange outfits. (Although she was very strict about Halloween and felt everyone should be something scary. She looked scornfully upon firemen and astronauts and particularly ballerinas and princesses.)

Crabby also loved the way the neighbor's homes (okay, only a few energetic neighbors actually did this) would transform from ordinary suburban dwellings to Creepy Spider-Webby Haunted Houses where witches or skeletons could open the door and scare you!

And she can remember the sounds of...

Ah hell, who is she kidding. Crabby barely remembers all that stuff. What made Halloween so Incredibly Exciting she Could Just Burst was of course THE CANDY!!!

Halloween was all about THE CANDY! Getting it for free (no allowance necessary) and, at least in Crabby's house, getting to keep all of it and eat it whenever you wanted! (No lie. Crabby's mother wasn't nearly as strict as Katieo is. Though Crabby had more restraint as an eight year old than she does in middle age: she'd hoard her loot and make it last forever).

But candy's not good for you, so all that was probably very, very, wrong. Wasn't it?

In her web wanderings, Crabby also ventured over to the website of the Center for Science in the Public Interest where they posted some creative suggestions for celebrating Halloween without the traditional total candy overload.

And so Crabby took a look at these wholesome sensible suggestions and...

They made her very, very depressed.

Somewhere deep in Crabby's brain she feels that every kid should get to experience a Halloween that's totally stuffed stock full with candy. Not with pumpkin yogurt dip and orange slices and dried apricots.

But sugar in huge quantities is bad for kids!

Then Crabby finally worked out how she feels about this. Here goes:

Halloween is a Holiday! The candy we eat on holidays is part of what makes the holiday special. Halloween candy is not the problem.

The problem is: we're a culture of infants who think every f*cking day of the year is a holiday.

This is a nation of folks who eat sugary cereals or pop-tarts for breakfast; fatty hamburgers and french fries and milkshakes for lunch; ice cream or potato chips for a snack; and then pizza followed by apple pie for dinner. And any time one of these "meals" is late? We fill in with a candy bar.

(And by "we" Crabby means exactly the opposite. "We" doesn't refer to anyone who reads this blog and who buys only occasional treats. It's really "them," isn't it? Those other people out there who are buying all this junky crap that surrounds us in the grocery store and on TV and on billboards and reminds us constantly of all the tempting garbage we might secretly crave but try to resist. If "they" weren't buying all this fat and sugar and packing their SUV's full of it--then maybe we'd be besieged by ads for tofu and lentils and snap peas instead of Snickers bars and hamburgers, and we'd all be healthier and happier).

(Oh wait. Crabby just remembered she has a huge row of cupcakes on top of her blog. Um... Never mind.)

So anyway, part of why Halloween gluttony was so special in Crabby's youth was that access to candy was not as easy and constant as it is now. She wonders: can we please go back to a time when stuffing yourself full of fun sized Milky Way bars and Candy Corn and Sweet Tarts until you wanted to puke was a rare and special privilege?

What do you folks think about the whole Halloween candy issue? (Or feel free to rant about how the whole damn holiday has gone down the crapper--or explain why you think Halloween celebrations are actually more fun than ever now!)


  1. I'm completely with you that the problem isn't the holiday but that as a culture, we treat every day like a holiday, deserving of sugary, fatty foods.

    I try to avoid candy, myself, because I truly cannot stop with one or two pieces. Nor have I yet found an amount that makes me sick. I can just eat and eat and eat. Best to just not get started, like alcoholics can't have that first drink lest they down the whole bottle and go looking for more. :-(

  2. I LURVE the crabbiness today that I nearly spit my coffee at the screen...serious.

    I went out of my way last year to buy my nieces books for halloween last year. They went nutso over em too. I will do the same this year. They get enough junk on the street and in fact, most of it sat on their fridge for the year because their mother rations it out to them. She's a good mother.

    Or maybe I'll buy them a nice bunch of broccoli. The older one will appreciate that.

  3. It affects us Canuks to - that whole sugar everywhere thing.

    I like to see how creative people in the neighbourhood can be with decorations and such. It saddens me though that no-one makes an effort to make costumes anymore.

  4. I don't for a moment think most of us have any clue as to why Halloween (Samhain) is observed.
    It's seen as an excuse to dress up and stuff ourselves stupid with the same things we stuff ourselves stupid with every other day of the year, but for one shining gluttonness (sp?) moment it's okay.
    All that said, we're going to hand out Halloween candy this year.
    The kid you help get hopped on sugar today might be less likely to axe murder you tomorrow.
    That said, remember to set an extra place at dinner tonight, and if you make up candy bags, make an extra one for the spirits. It can't hurt.

  5. Oh, I totally love the contradictory opinions!
    We know some people whose kids don't even get excited for Halloween. They have more candy in their cupboards than they'd get trick-or-treating. How sad is that?!
    That was all the fun as a kid, getting to eat 80 tons of candy! Because the rest of the year, it was a no-no in our household (did you pick up on that in the comments on that post that we gave out nickels and dimes as kids --oh the shame!-- and my mom is still doing it. Although she HAS upped it to quarters)
    As an adult, I still love Halloween but mostly because I live it through my kids. It's so fun to go through the excitement of it all over again. As an adult, i'm just kind of annoyed by it. Treats for me somehow seem a little more deserved when they're celebrating *something.* But Candy for the sake of the big candy holiday is starting to bug me.
    (see, I'm kind of inconsistent too)

    Oh, and thanks for the link!

  6. Maybe it's because I'm French and Halloween never was a biggie in my country, but I remember (when I used to see Halloween stuff in US series, for instance) that what had always impressed me was the trick and treating part in costumes, not the candy itself. (Of course, the fact that I don't really candy has probably helped--I'll only eat the full-chocolate ones, and only if they're good chocolate, not 2-cents meager little thingies. ;))

    As for turning every single holiday and more into a reason to pig out and gorge on fattening foods, this we also know, but we seem to have less, which may make it easier for us? We mainly have Christmas and Easter, in fact. There's no Labour Day in September/Halloween in October/Thanksgiving in November to dread when it comes to "complete week-ends of bingeing". Our Labour Day is on May 1st, and in my family we only do something different than usual on that day because it also happens to be my mother's birthday. Whitsunday isn't especially a reason to eat more than usual, the 14th July attracts people more for the fireworks than for the food, and then the only other summer holiday (August 15th) is also a religious thing that doesn't exactly warrant huge meals. Yeah, well, maybe it's indeed easier in France. Of course, birthdays and other 'personal opportunities' are a whole other story!

  7. I LOVE Halloween!! My favorite costume is Harpo Marx! I've done traditional Harpo, Harpo the artist, Harpo the pilot, and Harpo goes to college! I don't do Harpo the doctor on Halloween because I do that one ever other day of the year!
    Dr. J

  8. Happy Halloween.

    I am off to bake a pumpkin pie with the grand daughters. (Sure hope daughter in law knows how!!)

    Have a wonderful day and try to move vigorously for a few minutes for every piece of candy you pilfer from some sweet adorable unsuspecting child!


  9. Right now, I'm having a hard time focusing on writing this comment because I can HEAR the mini chocolate bars calling me from where they're hiding. I can resist them right now, but after tonight, once there are leftovers..

    The mention of handing out coins... what about the charitable aspect of Halloween? Does anyone's kidlets still bring home UNICEF boxes? Do they get filled up? When my kids went out Trick or Treating, the parents at the door always seemed to have to scramble to find cash to put in their boxes, and I've rarely seen a child carrying one around with them for the past several years. As with Christmas, it would be nice if the giving was stressed along with the taking.

  10. Crabby, I agree with ever single word you said. Even the part about growing up and being able to eat all my candy whenever I wanted. (I would sort it into different categories and count it so I'd know if siblings stole any, then I'd make sure at least some of the good stuff was available right up until Christmas, and sometimes much much later. But the option of gorging was always there)
    I agree that on birthdays, and holidays, "treating" yourself if good. But celebrating tuesdays and laundry days with sugar is bad.

  11. Well, hm. This is probably going to be long.

    When I was a kid I lived in the country and we didn't trick-or-treat. We DID have a huge Halloween festival at the grade school in our small town and it was absolutely fantastic. Each teacher had some really cool game, like a fishing pond where you fished for prizes, and one classroom always brought in stoves and had a huge chili dinner going. In the gym we had hula hoop contests and costume contests and cakewalks. That's what I remember and love about my childhood Halloweens. I vaguely remember candy corn, which I didn't like, and some weird wax lips. I remember a box of Hershey bars my sister got for winning second place in the costume event.

    Hence when I had my own kids I was repulsed by the idea of their going around peoples houses begging for candy. (Also I have always been a sort of healthy eater.) So I just didn't take them. Then my neigbors accused me of child abuse, and one year, I forget why, someone took them out for trick-or-treats, and it got a little crazy. The candy went on for months!!! The fights about whose was whose and the sugar fits!! It was horrible.

    So the next year I told them they could go all out on the costumes etc. and bring home candy, but they had to eat all the candy that night. (I let them keep some few things like gum and anything that looked relatively healthy.) And that's pretty much what we did until they grew up and left home.

    Call me a witch if you like. I didn't let them have TV either. And they're gorgeous fun people who love me.

  12. It's HALLOWEEN - let the kids be kids, for heaven's sake. That includes eating too much candy, without having to sort through their stash to separate out the well-intentioned but (let's face it) ridiculous contributions from Concerned Responsible People On the Block, like sugar free gum and trail mix. I've heard that many school districts don't allow any kind of treats at Halloween parties any more - no cupcakes, no candy, etc. I'm sorry, but that's just stupid. Do people really think that we are doing something productive about "fighting childhood obesity" (I hate that phrase) by silly little rules that have no big impact, other than to ruin what used to be an innocent day?

    I agree with Crabby that many people go too far with eating treats all the time. But messing around with Halloween isn't going to solve that problem.

  13. Dare I even throw in the religious opposition I have to celebrating Halloween...

  14. I love halloween. My birthday is the day before and we'd always nudge it a day ahead and have all out costume parties, with all sorts of cool stuff.
    I grew up in a tiny farm town of ~300 people, so tricker treating didn't take very long, but most of our treats were homemade tasties like popcorn balls and cakes and stuff. Everyone knoew everyone and put a slip of paper in it with their name on so our parents knew who made it - YUMMY. The candy was usually the most boring part...we had costume parties on my birthday with apple bobbing and treasure hunts and pin the fangs on the bat.
    I still love costumes and dressing up. It's so much fun. And I do wish I could make hommemade granola bars and treats to give out on halloween instead of just packages sugary stuff...but I know they'd just get shucked out cuz some parents would think there was pins or blades in them or something...and that's my beef. Does anyone actually know af anyone real that they can prove had this happen to? It seems like a lot of paranoia over something nearly mipossible...It seems to me you'd have more fun just going round to the neighbors you knew, visiting and getting a few awesome things and eating them - not just candy
    I just turned 34 and I'm talking about the good old days.....uh oh. :) Still, I wouldn't say no to a handful of Rockets and a popcorn ball tho...

  15. Growing up with a dentist for a father, we were the 'weird' house on the block - we gave out toothbrushes one year, sugar-free gum another. We actually had kids coming back the year after we gave out toothbrushes who were disappointed NOT to get another one!
    Other than that, we did all the normal kid stuff, including the UNICEF boxes.
    I do believe that Hallowe'en, just like every other holiday celebrated in North America, has become yet another Excuse for Excess. Sad, sad, fat nations, both Canada and the US.

  16. "The problem is: we're a culture of infants who think every f*cking day of the year is a holiday." OMG I'm dying here, I think that all the time!

    It seems all holidays in the US revolve around food in one way or another, no wonder we think food is love..or we love food...or something along those lines.

    Now I"m off to steal some candy.

  17. Great post, Crabby! I whole-heartedly agree that Halloween can only be special if it's a departure from the norm. My mom didnt buy sodas or candy for us. She would bake cakes, cookies and cupcakes, but we ate it after dinner, not after school or whenever we felt like it.

    Halloween and Easter were different. She didn't monitor our candy. It was our candy and we could do whatever we liked with it. When it was gone, that was it until next year. The big challenge was with my Dad. He LOVED all the candy and had no problems eating our candy. We soon learned to hide it from him! (it still makes me laugh!)

  18. I love that you discussed this! It's a holiday, and I wouldn't want to pass out sugar free candy or fruit to kids who knock on my door. That's justweird. But I do think that many people consider EVERY day a holiday. And that defeats the purpose of special occassions. Byt not having fun and enjoying the festive times, you are restricting yourself. Just moderate it out. Have a little candy, after dinner. Or exercise tomorrow. Or only eat candy today. As a kid, I knew that halloween was special because I could eat what I got. But my made sure to regulate the candy after halloween, which I think is a good idea.

  19. Hilary - too many kids have been accosted for their little UNICEF boxes, so they don't do that anymore. I think it is a sad reflection on society.

  20. As usual, your take is perfection, and I linked to you on MY weblog cuz you say it better than I possibly could say it myself.

  21. Halloween is when I stock up on chocolate for the rest of the year (if not longer). When frozen, not only does it keep, but I forget it's there and thus, don't eat it daily.

    And yes, I eat entirely too much of it. I think that's why my weight's hit a plateau. Grr.

  22. I think it's great fun to dress up and go to a Halloween party, but I'm addicted to sugar and if I eat one....well, I don't eat just one. It really makes me feel horrible (no energy) anyway, and puts my metabolism back to zero. So, I enjoy my sweets in the form of fresh fruit. Sound boring? That's what I used to think, too, but it sure is peaceful to be without the sugar cravings. ;)

  23. Hi All!

    Sorry, busy day today, but what great comments! Unfortunately, it is now getting dark and there are no doubt some tiny ghosts and goblins approaching and...

    Who am I kidding, kids don't dress that way anymore. (And what is a goblin exactly and how do you dress up like one? I've never been clear on that.)

    Though we are in one of those rare neighborhoods where the kids all still go treak-or-treating. So door duty awaits.

    Anyway, loved to hear all your halloween traditions and to find out I'm not the only one who needs to fight a weakness for Fun Sized snacks.

    Thanks everyone!

  24. Dude, astronauts can be scary. Think about the one driving from Houston to Florida, wearing an adult diaper, so she could meet her boyfriend's girlfriend and wail upon her.

    Firemen wear all that protective gear-- they barely look human.

    I'm a little freaked by the thinness of ballerinas.

    Royalty in general is pretty creepy.

    -- P

  25. (i'm a day late, but...)

    Kids were getting mugged for UNICEF boxes?! Jeeze, that's horrible. :(

    It really makes me sad that you can live in even a neighborhood packed with kids but nobody is allowed to trick-or-treat anymore.

    (FYI, to my knowledge, there has never been a confirmed real-life case of poisoned/bladed/tampered-with Halloween candy. It was all made up, just like the "Satanic abuse" scandal.)

    I'm staying with my boyfriend at the moment and we heard there would be trick-or-treating in his apartment complex so we got two bags of candy... and got a grand total of two trick-or-treaters. :p I ended up eating almost all of the Reese's Cups (they're my, er, "danger food") but was too sick to handle the Smarties.

    Speaking of being sick, Public Service Announcement: Get a flu shot!! This year's flu is horrible. :(

  26. I am so behind on your blog...

    I've honestly never been a candy fan. Even as a kid. I didn't (don't) like candy, cake or soda. Yep, I was and am a freak. :)

    I was also a very greedy child. (because I was SPOILED) So yeah, i'd do everything to get candy. i think maybe it was more of an adrenaline rush for me once I got started because I had some pretty horrible social anxiety issues. So I'd get so much candy and my mom would eat some and then it'd get thrown out eventually.

    Such a waste. ANd one of my biggest fears, if I have a child, is that they will grow up like spoiled brats or something too (which really screrwed me over for a long time) so yeah, i would restrict their candy and how many houses they go to.

    I'm also very strong on the religious side. I'd probably be a whole lot worse at Christmas time, trying to instill the right meaning. My kid could have fun on Halloween, but in a not greedy way. And Christmas there top priority is Mass. ha ha ha... Mind you my kid would either be name Magdalena Marie or John Paul so it'd be in their blood. :)

    But seriously... I don't even get the big deal of Halloween, never did... Nor do I get the greatness of candy...

    I am so weird...


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