Monday, October 31, 2005


Lundi gras*

Halloween is tonight. It has become fairly commonplace for people my age to remark anecdotally that the number of goods roving through the neighborhood trick-or-treating is significantly lower than it was when we were kids. Too many poisoned-Tylenol-bottle and child abduction stories, and changes in mores about letting kids out unsupervised, I guess.

But there is still some trick-or-treating, and so I bought five $3 bags of candy packaged in sizes that have gotten ever-smaller over the years, from full, to half, to "snack" to "bite" sizes.

This is not necessarily bad. This candy is god-awful. It's full of chemicals and preservatives and emulsifiers, of course. In my trick-or-treating days they still used sugar in a lot of candy, I think, but for many years now it's all been high-fructose corn syrup -- which is perhaps the principal villain in the rise of obesity in the U.S. By doling out my five bags of candy, I'm just helping to fatten up our already overweight young people.

So I've belatedly come to the conclusion that after tonight I will no longer participate in the corn-syrup/industrial/obesity complex. No more damn crappy candy for Halloween!

But what do I give, starting next year, for a treat? Something cheap that is not food -- any ideas?

UPDATE: There are lots of great ideas in the comments. But nobody mentioned wax lips!
*Fat Monday

you could try the CCFC (cheap crap from China) hawked by Oriental Trading Company -- our dentist uses them for silly prizes for children when they are their for their bianunual teeth cleaning.

Stuff like pencils and erasers shaped in halloween-appropriate shapes.
Go to Willie Street Co-op and pick up some healthier candies. Or something like Health Valley's Peanut Butter and Strawberry bars. Yum! (Made with no trans fatty acids.) People in your 'hood will understand.

Kids expect sweets on Halloween. If you don't want to participate, you can do the "lights out in the house" thing, but if you're handing out treats, I think you should hand out what kids regard as treats.
But what do I give, starting next year, for a treat?

You always have the other option: trick.
well i just came back from the market with a schizophrenic combination of bite-sized god awfuls, old fashioned caramels, and sugarless (!) gums, all to be accompanied by a liberal sprinkling of pennies.
Stickers! Little kids love stickers, and the teenagers who won't be impressed are too old to be trick-or-treating anyway.

I wish we'd given away stickers. Then we'd have leftovers to keep our own kids occupied on a rainy day, instead of leftovers that will make us all fat.
I hated getting pennies for Halloween. Even a 5 year old is disappointed when they realize their handful of pennies won't buy them anything.
hand out the Chronicles of's better than chocolate...otherwise you wouldn't believe what the kids can do with tape these days..
Stickers? Where will those kids put those stickers when they see it's not candy they're getting?
We went the CCFC route (mostly so I wouldn't eat a bunch of candy I didn't really like anyway), but I don't know....this stuff will be in a landfill forever...maybe a little high-fructose corn syrup isn't so bad, one night a year. You can get small packs of raisins, animal crackers, nuts (oops, just remembered, some kids have allergies), but then there's the whole "that's not a treat" problem. One friend gave out packs of microwave popcorn she got on sale. But I suppose then there's a transfat problem. Crayons or markers?
The grocery store by my house sold big bags of rubber halloween toys priced about the same as the candy -- rats, bats, wiggly skeletons, and suction cup spiders you can stick on windows. Unfortunately, we only got two trick-or-treaters, so we had all these leftover toys that we don't want (except for the suction cup spiders -- those have unlimited uses).
Dear Sleep Goblin,

You misunderstand my purpose in offering a liberal sprinkling of pennies. It is not to bring joy and consumer purchasing power to the children. Rather, it is to rid myself of the necessity of going to the bank to get rid of all the pennies accumulating in my home.
Warren P.K.: A good enough purpose, but the kids still don't understand. Though mixing them in with the candy probably makes it sweeter. It's a real bummer to get 5 pennies and that's it.

You could cash them in at the supermarket instead. They have those coin machines, and you probably have to go there occasionally anyway. I keep mine in a cup and take it in when it gets full. It's like free money.
I vote the trick route. I've been doing it for years. Broken pencils, plastic spoons, rubber bands, used erasers, or any of that stuff that ends up in a junk drawer. Heck, I even let the little beggars pick out what they want. And I don't know a parent of a five year old that wasn't snickering on sidewalk. However, I do have a back up of candy bars for the kids that are good sports. It it all about what is a treat for the kids. And I don't think Milky Ways are all that bad.
I would be thrilled if people would give out non-candy items (I always end up throwing away half of what they bring home), and the kids wouldn't mind as long as they're items that are genuinely cool.

My kids love little party-favor toys like harmonicas, kaleidoscopes or magnifying glasses. They're cheap and don't last forever, but they're more fun than pencils or stickers. They come in multi-packs at Target or Party City, or you could go even cheaper and get the big pack of pinata-filler toys (these come with those funny-nose-and-glasses things, and who doesn't love those?).
On their parents' walls and furniture, anonymous. Where else do you put stickers?
PS: Kids who don't like getting stickers may decide to adhere them to the door of the person who just gave them stickers.
I was just browsing various blogs as I was doing a search on the word halloween, and I just wanted to say that I really like what you've done with your blog, even though it wasn't particularly related to what I searched for. I appreciate your postings, and your blog is a good example of how a blog should be done. I've only just recently started a Posters website - feel free to visit it when you get a chance if you wish. Much success, antonio.
Hi Blogger, Out surfing for information on obesity drugs & happened upon your site. While Lundi gras* wasn't exactly spot on, it did strike a note with me. Thank you for the really good read.
Hi Blogger, Out surfing for information on obese & happened upon your site. While Lundi gras* wasn't exactly spot on, it did strike a note with me. Thank you for the really good read.
Christmas is just around the corner. No time to go to the mall...then do your shopping online. We sell everything that the mall sells. Shop today!
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