Opinion

Halloween candy

Shoppers wore smiles as costumed kids danced up and down the aisles at Freddie’s on the afternoon of October 31st. A lady cornered one six-year-old to ask, “Are you Tinker-Bell?”

“No.”

“Well then, are you Heidi?”

“Nooooo.”

“Who are you, then?”

The little one fixed her clueless inquisitor with a steely glare and bellowed, “I’m Dorothy.” With pig-tails, blue jumper and ruby-red slippers, of course she was. A few hours later Dorothy might have been ringing doorbells and presenting her pumpkin-bucket to collect the fuel for a week-long sugar high.

Still thinking about Dorothy, I brushed a crumpled Snickers wrapper aside to pick at a fragment of chocolate that fell between my keyboard’s Enter and Shift keys. Easier to shake it out (shake-shake). Yup, it dropped right out. It was from a mini-Snickers bar which takes some explaining because neither my wife nor I favor Snickers or Milky Way bars. So when we pick up our annual jumbo sack of Halloween candy bars at Costco we weed them out. These are the first ones to pass out to Trick-or-Treaters. Get ‘em out of the house.

Another rule of Halloween is that no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup will leave the house. We tend to hang onto Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, too. M&Ms are okay as are Almond Joys. Nestle’s Crunch rounds out the list of keepers. Of course a busy Halloween Evening can exhaust our stock of Snickers and Milky Way so we can’t always count on keeping a full horde of the good stuff.

No problem this year. In past years, parents from the boonies have gathered van-loads of neighbor children to work our block. That’s not a problem. We get a kick out of greeting clutches of costumed kids while their attentive parents watch from the roadside. But with the H1N1 virus on the prowl, incidents of child molestation in the news and a chilly drizzle, there were few kids on the streets this year. Only sixteen came to our door. Sixteen Snickers and Milky Way bars departed to leave us with a basket half full of the awful things, and that is why I got chocolate in my keyboard.

It’s my wife’s fault. Her family used to put the annual apple harvest in the basement and when one wanted an apple, the rule was to pick a bad one, carve out the rotten spots and enjoy what was left. If you could. So it is with our approach to left-over Halloween candy. Eat the worst ones first. The best of Halloween’s leftovers go into the freezer.

We’re not big-time candy-eaters. We seldom have dessert. Ice cream can languish in our freezer until its liquid evaporates, leaving a tarry residue. (Imagine sweet plumber’s putty.) So why do we even go about saving it?

Confession time: Both of us are closet sweet-eaters. We don’t admit to sneaking into the candy stash, we ditch the wrappers to keep from being found out. But since the supply obviously diminishes, sneaking sweets is an open secret we choose not to discuss. Sometime around the first of July, either she or I will claim the last candy which will likely be a Milky Way or Snickers.

Our normal diet is long on broccoli and fruits and short of fats and red meat. We watch what we eat and study the nutrition panels before we buy packaged foods. And since we gauge our intake of foods with doubtful nutritional merit, we figure that at our slow rate of consumption we’re not seriously poisoning ourselves with candy.

The sack of nutritional disasters we fed to smiling costumed children didn’t came from many makers. The entire candy industry seemed to be represented in that one bag. Could it be that the Willy Wonkas of the world conspire to make fat children with bad teeth? Hershey, Mars, Peter Paul, Nestles — they’re all in it together. Their offerings, assembled one bag of sweets, all utilized that wonderfully smooth ingredient, palm oil, to produce yummy candies that delight the palate.

Palm oil. Palm oil is a high-calorie ingredient that tops all other oils in saturated fat. Knowing the ingredients of candy bars are a surefire recipe for obesity and high cholesterol I had to wonder whether my midnight raids on the candy supply might be slowly killing me. What about calories and saturated fats? So I looked up the nutritional hazards of these candies on the web.

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate topped the combined list with 270 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat. Snickers came in tops in calories but lagged behind Hershey’s with 5 grams of bad fat. Number three was my beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, listing 258 calories and 7.5 grams of saturated fat.

It would be nice to follow the bad news with a paragraph listing healthy candies but nothing in the mix in my jumbo bag qualified. Milky Way was lowest with 220 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat. All the rest messed up relatively low ratings for calories with sky-high saturated fats or visa-versa.

Society has scared itself out of healthier options. Rumors about poisoned treats and razor blades embedded in goodies pretty much eradicated home-cooked sweets from Halloween. Time was when mothers prepared for trick-or-treaters by making up mounds of popcorn balls and platters of brownies. Apples and oranges were once common give-aways. Now, whatever doesn’t come in a factory-sealed packet is likely sorted into the garbage by cautious parents.

After laboring over this recitation of the evils of sweets, I think I’ll have an apple for lunch — 65 calories and zero grams of fat.

Comments may be addressed to: rgraef@verizon.net

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