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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween Treats Guaranteed to Earn a Trick

By: Vicki Santillano

Who didn’t love Halloween as a kid? Not only did we play dress up and stay out a little later, but we were rewarded with free candy! I loved dumping my candy booty on the living room floor and making careful piles of “keeps,” “sorta likes,” and “give to Dad.”

Now that I’m older (and my attempts to score free chocolate are less socially acceptable), I try to buy the best treats for my Halloween visitors because, let’s face it—few things are more disappointing to kids during the sugar holiday of the year than stale hard candies or chalky, Tums-like wafers. To avoid potential nasty tricks played by vengeful, costumed kids, I asked around to find the most unpopular candy choices among trick-or-treaters. Let’s keep these unappetizing treats out of our candy baskets!

Brach’s Starlight Peppermints
These usually come with a receipt at the end of the meal, which already leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. They may be a good choice after a garlic-heavy dinner, but not so much on Halloween. It’s only slightly above toothbrushes and raisins as one of the most boring treats to hand out.

Smarties
Chalky, vaguely-flavored, and leaves an odd aftertaste—not unlike the stomach-calming tablets I’d have to take the morning after Halloween from eating too much good candy. Smarties are usually reserved for throwing at siblings when parents’ backs are turned, so save parents some trouble and invest in a yummier candy, like Skittles.

Candy Corn
After much research, I’ve reached this conclusion: you either love or hate candy corn—no in-betweens. Most of the people I polled lean toward the latter spectrum. Besides, even if kids do like it, the “kernels” just fall to the bottom of candy bags and become a sticky, inedible mess anyway.

Good & Plenty
How many among us could appreciate the taste of black licorice when we were younger? Frankly, I thought it tasted like bitter, chewy bark. A safer bet would be red licorice, which offers the same fun chewiness with that artificial fruit flavor kids are more likely to accept.

Mounds Bar
The problem with candies and chocolates infused with coconut is similar to the Good & Plenty situation—young, relatively undeveloped palates usually find coconut (particularly its texture) weird and gross. If you’re looking for a more appealing gooey center, try caramel, peanut butter, and more chocolate—keep it standard and simple.

Healthy Foods
Yes, childhood obesity is a problem in the U.S. Yes, kids should incorporate more fruit and healthy snacks into their diets. However, Halloween night is not the time to enforce this standard. Make sure kids eat healthy every other day of the year and let them have their indulgent fun (in moderation, of course). Save the apples, raisins, bananas, and so forth for November 1. Ultimately, parents are responsible for kids’ nutritional choices, so don’t be the neighborhood killjoy!


Circus Peanuts
It doesn’t get much more bland than circus peanuts, which are marshmallows shaped like peanuts and dyed a strange orange color. (One person surveyed likened it to “flesh-colored,” which is even more disturbing.) According to Wikipedia, this candy was created in the 1800s. Since then, many exciting advancements have been made in the sweets industry—step it up a notch and leave circus peanuts in the past.

Malt Balls
The chocolate coating and spherical shape trick many into thinking something delicious lies inside, but one bite past the chocolate coating gives way to … powdered milk. It tastes grainy, slightly tangy, and is usually tossed aside by kids in favor of Milk Duds or Junior Mints. Plus, they’re awfully crunchy and therefore difficult for younger kids to eat.

Non-Candy
Sure, kids like toys and they last longer than a piece of chocolate, but the kinds of toys people are prone to freely hand out on Halloween—plastic spider rings, pumpkin-shaped erasers, etc.—aren’t so appropriate to play with once the holiday is over. Most are small enough that they’ll just get lost anyway, and with minimal enjoyment from the kids. Even worse than those things, however, are small handfuls of pennies or assorted loose change—just don’t go there.

Jujubes
Does anyone else think that Jujubes are just a poor man’s gummy bear? They have a tougher texture and tend to stick to teeth more, which alone makes them a bad choice for kids. More importantly (from a child’s perspective), they’re just not that fun to eat. Gummy bears and worms have a similar “fruit” flavor, are softer, and involve more creative shapes. Kids have more fun biting the heads off gummy bears than trying to get Jujube residue out of their molars.

Baked Goods
The intention is admirable (who doesn’t love homemade goodies?), but most paranoid parents won’t let their trick-or-treaters eat anything sans wrapper. Giving kiddies scrumptious-looking cookies or cupcakes that their parents will toss into the trash immediately upon returning home is just cruel. Photo source: StarMama (cc)

Peanut Butter Kisses
Most people know these candies as “that nasty, peanut butter chew in the orange and black wax wrappers.” It took me twenty minutes of Google-ing just to find a description beyond that! These gross, generic-looking candies made almost everyone’s giveaway pile as kids. Even the red and white striped mints might be a better alternative to this candy.

It may seem silly to put so much effort into pleasing youngsters when they come knocking at our doors, demanding something sweet. But try to remember what it was like when we were young and Halloween rolled around—how eager we were to prance around at night and the giddy anticipation of what yummy treats awaited us. (Conversely, let us not forget the toilet paper and egg-filled wrath of some of the angrier kids.) Children only have so many years to be excited by such simple things and to indulge in what makes them happy with none of that pesky, adult-onset guilt to bring them down. So don’t be afraid to go the extra mile just to make someone’s Halloween extra special—it can be a real treat.

Original here

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