The Horrors of a Halloween Without Candy

Some parents just hate fun. Specifically, the sugared, cavity-producing, hyperactivity-inducing fun that comes with Halloween candy.

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If you can muster it: Happy Halloween! The show must go on, presumably, regardless of an epic storm named Sandy, so there's a piece in the New York Post today to remind us of what some of us already knew: Some parents just hate fun. Specifically, the sugared, cavity-producing, hyperactivity-inducing fun that comes on Halloween. Perhaps you recall similar parents from your days of childhood. You'd walk around the block with your plastic pumpkin, hoping for the good candy—mini packs of Twizzlers, perhaps, and/or Butterfinger bars and all the chocolate and Skittles you could snag—but instead, at that one house (there'd always be one) you'd get an apple. Or a granola bar. Or some pennies. The worst is the Halloween killjoy. Yet the tradition continues, as Jane Ridley writes, using the example of Manhattan mom Braden Rhetts, who with sons Fisher and Ryker, ages 4 and 2, will be giving out "stickers, rubber balls and mini-pretzel packs" this holiday. The horror! “We don’t do the candy thing in our household,” she says.

Since Fisher and Ryker will surely get some candy from people who are less anti-candy than their parents—some renegade sorts thankfully refuse to bow to trends and persist in giving out evil sugared delicacies—their buckets will be inspected and anything not passing muster will be given to "Operation Gratitude, a charitable project where troops are sent boxes of goodies to boost morale." As a child, this must be heart-wrenching, or at least, I would have sooner parted with my little brother than a piece of especially prized candy back in the old days of Halloween, when things were just a little bit looser and freer (fortunately, I didn't have to). But don't feel bad for the kids deprived the essential experience of shoving their faces with so many Nerds their tongues turn blue and their teeth hurt. Fisher, for one, doesn't even like to eat sweet things, or so says his mother:

“He will cry at parties when people thrust cupcakes into his face and demand that he eats the frosting,” adds Rhetts. “He thinks it’s yucky.”

Hm. It's possible that he simply hates cupcakes in his face. But other parents agree, living candy-less on Halloween is a good "learning opportunity," and with all the tooth decay and obesity in the world, is there any other responsible way to parent than having a "zero-tolerance" candy policy? It's a trend! Ridley writes that this no-candy, no-sugar, horror-ween is catching on with New York City parents; as are all sorts of new sans-sugar treats to pass around instead of Milk Duds and KitKats: temporary tattoos, "Frankenweenie-themed mini-packs of pistachio nuts," playing cards, stickers, mini rubber duckies, vampire fangs, spider rings, and bouncey balls that look like eyeballs. Or, gah, pre-packaged apple slices. We are on a slippery slope to toothbrushes and floss, here, and it's not pretty. Where are the Lemonheads? Please give me Lemonheads.

Dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman not only refuses to let her own kids have candy, she refuses to give out candy to other people's kids, either, and instead, will be passing out Disney stickers, temporary tattoos, and sugar-free gum. Of the gum and its intended recpients, she says, “Maybe they might want to keep it for when they’re making out with their girlfriends or boyfriends and want fresh breath. I think they’ll appreciate it!”

Perhaps. She will be disabling her doorbell in case of unhappy customers. Because deep in her heart, she must know; at the end of the long, Halloween day, she must know. Kids want candy for Halloween. It's trick or treat, after all, not "trick or learning opportunity." Pity the children forced to grow up without the fleeting pleasure of a sugar rush and the throbbing headache that follows, tots who must experience their early days on this planet without the innumerable joy attained from counting numerous bonbons and bars and boxes of different forms of sugar, dividing a take up in piles from best to worst, saving the very best for last. Imagine a life lived without the accomplished thrill of having more chocolate in one's ownership than one ever dreamed possible. Imagine growing into adulthood with your dentist telling you, over and over again, "Everything looks great, see ya in a year." Alas, that everything sweet must be ruined. Alas.

Inset via Flickr/Nat Tung.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.