The scariest part of Halloween for me is the 20 pounds of sugar that comes through the door on the arms of my kidlings at the end of the night.
Visions of rotting teeth and obesity counseling flash through my head as they dump their loot on the kitchen table for the annual sorting rite. Our policy has been to allow them a couple pieces of candy on Halloween night, plus one sugared item in their lunchboxes for a week. After that, it all goes into the communal pantry candy jar, where it’s doled out one piece at a time after dinner.
Americans spend more than $2 billion on Halloween candy each year, which is enough to make me feel sick to my stomach. We still have candy from last year in the candy jar, although it’s only the yucky stuff, like those mysterious squishy black candies wrapped in orange paper. The good stuff—the chocolate—is a distant memory, although I’m sure there are a couple of Snickers bars forever adhered to my hips.
A few years ago, my youngest sister came up with a unique way to handle the Halloween candy challenge.
About a month after her marriage, she and her new spouse were invited to Sunday night dinner with the in-laws. She offered to bring dessert.
My sister has always been, well, creative, in the kitchen. When considering how to impress her new in-laws, she had a moment of culinary inspiration—she decided to make a candy bar pie.
She took all her leftover Halloween chocolate bars—Reese’s, Butterfingers, Snickers, Kit Kats—and tossed them into a double boiler. Once melted, she poured the candy goo into a store-bought Graham Cracker crumb crust. She topped the confection with Cool Whip and popped it into the freezer.
As dinner at the in-laws ended, my proud sister presented her candy bar pie with a flourish. “I wanted to be cute and creative,” she recalls. “And the presentation was excellent.”
Unfortunately, the pie was not.
It had hardened to a rock-like consistency. “You could kind of gnaw around the edges,” my sister says. “And to my in-laws’ credit, they pretended to like it.”
Unlike the indestructible candy bar pie, my sister’s marriage crumbled several years later.
In other family lore is my mother-in-law’s answer to the Halloween candy dilemma. She gave her kids one week to gorge themselves on their treats. Anything left after that was tossed.
My spouse is the oldest of three brothers, and he and brother number two would torture their much younger sibling by, among other dastardly deeds, stealing his candy during the week-long engorgement period.
One year, youngest brother boasted to the elders: “You’ll never find my candy this year. I’ve hidden it somewhere you’ll never guess.”
Once this gauntlet was thrown, the older brothers conducted a mad search. Finally, they gave up. With a grin, the youngest strolled over to the trash can. Then he screamed.
He’d hidden his candy in the waste basket, knowing his brothers would never look there. But his plan backfired—someone had taken out the trash. He still remembers this as one of the horrifying moments of his young life.
So, are you a witch who lets your kids trick or treat and then confiscates the treats? Or are you a dentist’s nightmare who lets your kids gorge for a night or a week even?
Orthodontist James MacAlpine actually bought candy back from local kids, paying them $1 per pound between Nov. 1 and 8.
I didn’t get my kids organized in time to meet the buyback deadline, although they happily would have parted with much of their non-chocolate loot for a little cashola. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, I’ll try to avoid eating their candy, make sure they brush their teeth a lot and try to remember to toss the yucky candy before it dissolves in the bottom of the candy jar. And I’ll stay away from the double boiler.