At one time candy or homemade treats were thrown into the kiddie’s Halloween bags and their parents were responsible for sorting through it before the kids ate it. For whatever reason, the treat giver of today is expected to assume part of that responsibility.
This leaves many asking, what is safe to give?
The first thing to cross off the list is anything homemade unless you’re having a Halloween party at your home. In this day and age, no parent is going to let their child eat a popcorn ball from a stranger. Another consideration is the size of the treat. Some are small but large enough to get stuck in a child’s throat, like bite-size candies or gumballs. Others may be hard to dissolve, like taffy or caramel, and pose a choking risk. Instead of candy consider individual packages of pretzels, sunflower seeds, goldfish crackers, fruit roll-ups, or raisins.
More people today are aware of the common allergy to nuts, especially peanuts. While it’s easy to know that “Snickers” has nuts, it’s more difficult to know if the processing plant where the candy is made also processes nuts. It only takes a tiny bit of nut kernel to set off a severe allergic reaction in some people.
In general, it is safer to choose a non-chocolate candy because these are more likely to be produced in a nut-free facility. Think of Twizzlers, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike, Smarties and Sweet Tarts, or Lifesaver Gummies. If you still want chocolate, look for allergy information after the list of ingredients on the package. Watch for a warning that the candy is made in a facility that also processes peanuts, almonds, or tree nuts. Sometimes the warning is that the candy may contain traces of peanuts, etc. or that the equipment is also used for manufacturing peanuts or tree nuts. In view of this information, there are some treats developed where the manufacturing process is known to be safer. These include Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey Kisses, Chips Ahoy Cookies, York Peppermint Patties, and Oreo Cookies.
Healthy Halloween Treats
Children can eat an unhealthy amount of sweets during the holidays beginning at Halloween. Most parents would prefer that their children not eat so much sugar, so consider these healthy alternatives to Halloween candy. For those who come to trick or treat at your home, along with your own children, can still enjoy a sweet treat but they can be much healthier than the normal Halloween fare.
- Raisins are a perfect treat to give children when you want a healthy alternative. You can buy them in single-serving sizes which makes them easy to hand out to any witch or ghost which comes to your door. They are loaded with antioxidants and taste delicious.
- Even though some children have allergies to peanuts, you can give the little goblins that come to visit you other nuts. Walnuts, almonds, and cashews are some options to consider.
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are other great options for healthy Halloween alternatives. They can often be found in small packages and can be a great choice for children who like crunchy snacks.
- Some snacks come in individually wrapped, 100 calorie servings. Better than a ton of sticky, gooey candy, these treats will help soothe a sweet tooth and you can control how much they eat.
- Juice boxes can also be a good alternative to give out to children trick or treating in your neighborhood. Chances are any child out for an evening of fun will become thirsty so having juice can be just what they need.
- Graham or cheese crackers also come in individual servings. They are much healthier options than a candy bar or other sugary snacks. Pretzels would also be something to consider handing out Halloween night.
Alternatives to Halloween Candy
With so many considerations, you decide to forego candy altogether. Instead, look at all the products made by Crayola and checking the dollar stores for packages of things that could be divided. For instance, I’ve never seen a kid who didn’t like post-it notes or some sort of unusual pencil. Look for sheets of those temporary tattoos, little cookie cutters, beading, or plastic figurines like army men or farm animals. Look for glow-in-the-dark eyeballs or Halloween stickers. If you don’t expect but a few trick-or-treaters, consider giving them money or individually wrapped fortune cookies. Anything you would give as a party favor will do for a Halloween treat.
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Doing a quick search on Amazon, I found 300 ct. glow stick pack, 44 ct. Halloween slap bracelets and 156 Piece Halloween Party Favors Toys Assortment, along with several options for gluten and allergy free treats. (There’s no additional cost to you if you choose to purchase through these links)
Trick or Treating Tips for Parents
Chances are your children are going to come home from trick or treating with mostly candy in their bag. Go through the candy they receive and make sure the packages are intact. You can also use this time to pick out any candy or treats you don’t want your children to have for whatever reason. No judgement here if you want to put back a few of your favorites for yourself.
Candy in and of itself is not a bad thing. Anything can be enjoyed in moderation. Consider ways you can control how much sugar they get on a daily basis. Store the candy haul somewhere the children can’t easily reach. Then each day, as an afterschool snack or treat, let them have one or two pieces. This will give them the enjoyment of eating candy but without all of the possible problems.
Trick or Treat Time
Parents often have a hard time balancing being too strict or too lenient especially when it comes to candy at Halloween. There are healthy alternatives to Halloween candy. Use one or more of the above options and you can feel better about what your child eats.
The important thing is to participate and let children continue the fun of trick-or-treating in a safe manner.