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Halloween treats kids would rather toss than eat

Blogger's kids say mints are out. So are pretzels, other healthy fare, and chewy things that don't mix with braces.

By Karen Datko Oct 22, 2010 10:06AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.


When I was a kid, I would come home from my annual after-dark Halloween trip around the neighborhood and empty the booty from my pillowcase to see what I had scored from my ghoulish trick-or-treating adventure.


Of course, most of my take was usually the typical Halloween fare, like miniature candy bars. Every year, though, I also got a few unexpected items; some were really awesome Halloween treats -- but others were not.

One year I even got a rock in my bag -- just like Charlie Brown. I'm not kidding.


It's a good thing I didn't see that rock go in my sack when it was handed out, or I promise you that bozo's front yard would have looked like a winter wonderland because I would have gone back and toilet-papered it later in the evening.


I recently surveyed my kids -- Matthew, 13, and Nina, 11 -- to find out some of the worst stuff well-meaning folks in my neighborhood have tossed in their Halloween bags.


Although the kids never received any rocks, they did come up with a list of yucky "treats" they got that -- as far as they're concerned -- were almost as bad. Post continues after video.

  • Mints. The kids both remember the time somebody handed out Tic Tacs; I do too. Are you kidding me? Why not just hand out travel-size tubes of toothpaste? According to Nina, "They're not even candy, Dad!" She has a point, people. Save the mints for Christmas.
  • Mystery candy. Like most parents, the Honeybee and I go through our kids' candy before they get the OK to eat it. Although we'll usually let certain candies pass that are unlabeled but safe to eat, the kids have a different opinion. Nina refuses to eat candy she is not familiar with. Face it, kids are finicky; they do the same thing with vegetables.
  • Baby Ruth. Both kids agree that a Baby Ruth just has too many peanuts. That's an understatement. I don't care what you say; a Baby Ruth is not a candy bar -- it's a peanut industry research and development experiment gone awry. Besides, when most kids are really jonesing for peanuts, they'll get their fix by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Jawbreakers. According to Nina, jawbreakers are just "too much work." (Exercise never was her thing.) If that isn't bad enough, she also notes that the sour powdery finish that comes upon reaching the center of the jawbreaker is not her idea of fun either.
  • Five-flavor Life Savers. My daughter says the biggest problem with five-flavor Life Savers is that the flavors don't match the colors. To be specific, the red doesn't taste like cherries and the purple doesn't taste like grapes. I agree with her regarding the grape ones -- whose idea was it to make grape candy taste the way it does? -- but I'm not so sure about her assessment of the cherry. (By the way, for all you Life Saver fans rolling your eyes over this selection, I never said this was a scientific assessment.)
  • Nerds. Really? Colored balls filled with sugary powder is not my kids' idea of great candy. Mine either.
  • Taffy. The biggest complaint with taffy -- which includes taffy-like confections such as Tootsie Rolls -- is that you're supposed to stay away from it if you have braces. For kids with a mouth full of dental hardware, it can arguably be the cruelest treat of all.
  • Any candy with coconut. The consensus here is that coconut candy is good, but only in small quantities. Nina's biggest complaint is that after she eats more than a couple, she has to give the rest away because the taste of coconut becomes too "overpowering." I know. Peering into the mind of a child is one of life's ultimate joys. By the way, my son definitely feels like a nut; Nina doesn't. (If you're under 35 and wondering what that last sentence is all about, go ask your parents.)
  • Halloween pencils. Pencils taste bad and can put splinters in your tongue. But seriously, both kids agree the problem with pencils is that they usually get tossed in a drawer, unused, never to be seen again.
  • Black licorice. Don't ask me. When I was a kid, black licorice was pretty darn popular. Nina says it tastes too much like rubber. I wonder if Goodyear knows about this.
  • Pretzels. This is Halloween, people. Enough with the healthy snacks. What's next -- celery stalks? Matthew's biggest complaint is that they are usually stale -- the pretzels, not the celery.
  • Gum. Aside from the fact that kids with braces can't chew it, Nina says she hates getting gum because "it makes my mouth tired." (See No. 4. Jawbreakers.) On top of that, from a kid's perspective, gum also has a troika of other bad traits: It loses its flavor too fast, you have to be careful how you get rid of it, and "it makes you more thirsty."
  • Old Easter candy. I kid you not, folks: A few years ago both of my kids got chocolate bunnies in their Halloween bag. After all, nothing says "cheapskate" like recycled stale Easter candy. My kids knew exactly which house passed them out too. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Believe it or not, the next morning that home's lawn was covered in toilet paper too.

What?  Hey, now -- don't look at me.


More from Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

Oct 22, 2010 1:41PM

Hey, Baby Ruth's are very tasty! ;)


I think, given the current recession, this would be an excellent year to teach children to be appreciative of everything they get in their trick-or-treating bounty.  There are a lot of people currently unemployed or underemployed who either can't afford to give out candy at all or must downgrade from the Hershey's miniatures to tootsie rolls and the like.  Kids learning to be appreciative of the fact that they are getting candy for free is way more important than avoiding a box of nerds this year.

Oct 27, 2010 2:13AM
I agree, "Rachel2705." We are pretty low in cash this month (well, this year, actually). We're giving out packages of hot chocolate that we picked up on sale. I gave this out one year when we ran out of candy (I was desperately searching in the cabinet for goodies--kids loved the idea of hot chocolate after a cold, rainy evening of walking around; my kids were mad that I gave away packets of their Pop-Tarts when I ran out of hot chocolate). I had turned off my porch light, but kept my jack o'lanterns going, so that is why the kids kept coming. Not making the same mistake again!!
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