Eight Kick-Ass Alternatives to Candy for Halloween

At the risk of surrendering whatever I had left of my coolness or youth, embracing the role of crotchety-old-man while still in my 30s (barely), I’ll pose a question: Why are we sending our obese, diabetic, chronically-ill children rolling around the neighborhood to stuff pillow cases with sugary, processed nougats so they can gorge themselves until their glazed eyes pop out of their skulls from the spike in blood sugar?

Are we trying to kill them, and if so, could we not save a few $100k by pushing them out into traffic or drowning them in the tub? Sorry (too dark!), but you get the point.

Halloween kicks ass in many ways. The cold, crisp air, the general spookiness, the leaves changing colors, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, pick-up football games, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, scary movies, walking the neighborhood with seasonal beers and specialty cocktails, cute kids in cute costumes and cute moms in sexy ones (the witch, the nurse, the schoolteacher, the cowgirl…best day ever for the NFL’s Charger girls).

And who doesn’t enjoy hunkering down on a Snickers, Reece’s, Kit-Kat, Butterfinger, or Twix? Damn those nougats. So full of chewy, pleasure-releasing nougaty-goodness that more than half of the US population will have a chronic disease by the time your children are 18. One in every three kids alive today will develop diabetes.

The primary culprit is too much refined sugar, a trend kicked into high gear in the 1970s when our all-knowing, well-intentioned government opened the first salvo in the misguided war-on-fat. Misdiagnosing the problem with grand opulence (per usual), manufacturers then took the baton, extracting and replacing healthy fats with refined sugar, jumpstarting industrial food-processing and modern “food science”. Enter stage-left the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, inflammation, and leaky gut, to name a few. Newsflash: refined sugar and processed foods are the root cause of chronic disease.

Don’t even get me started on the damn “Food Pyramid”. The biggest joke in the history of mankind, the cronies in Washington trotted it out in 1992 like gospel, indoctrinating us all with baseless BS. Six to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta as the foundation of a healthy diet? How do we entrust this institution to deliver the mail, let alone manage the money system or military after that monumental display of incompetence?

To hell with the propoganda, and go ahead and smash the pyramid over your knee. As parents, it’s our job to take control of the traditions we hold dear, to shape these for our kids. The power is ours to keep what’s good, and change for the better what’s not. Every day is an opportunity to tackle another challenge. Clear eyes, full heart…

Damn I’m good; I should be on Oprah.

With that in mind, we tackle Halloween. It’s time to wake up and recognize the torment we cause our children with refined sugar and processed junk. Quite simply, cut the cord with candy, and embrace the “trick” component more so than “treat”.

Eight Kick-Ass Alternatives to Halloween Candy

1) Bang-snaps. No friend of mine growing up would ever choose a candy bar over a box of bang snaps.

2) Punching balloons. The Sylvester Stallone of balloons.

3) Random chotskies and party favors from Party City. I really can’t stand this crap – worthless plastic trinkets from China; total garbage. Avoid it if you can, but if you need an easy way out, it’s cheap, kids 4-7 love it, and it’s better for them than candy.

4) Balls. Geometry’s perfect shape. Just get a bucket full of balls, all sizes (bouncy balls, tennis balls, golf balls, ping-pong balls, beach balls and marbles, to name a few).

5) Balsa-wood and foam planes. These are fun, cheap, and full of wonder about the physical world.

6) Glow-sticks. They’re going to want to snap these and have some fun right on the spot.

7) Beef jerky. My wife and kids vote this one down in favor of roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, which are also a great choice. Get the kids hooked on healthy, delicious snacks that don’t destroy your body’s organs and systems.

8) Run a neighborhood raffle. Each visitor pulls a ticket, and the next day pick a number (or numbers) out of a hat. Prizes include $20 (or whatever you would have spent on candy) plus household games and toys your kids have outgrown or are tired of. If you don’t want the hassle of holding a subsequent get-together, display the winning number beside your door, and each kid that picks it gets a buck. If you’re budget is $20, and the winning number is six, just put 20 sixes in your basket (and a bunch of other numbers). Plenty of variation on this one. Your house, your odds!

These are a starting point, but get creative and think of some more, then go ahead and add them as suggestions in the comments field.

What about all the treats your kids bring home? In our house, this is a negotiation. I make a cash offer (or use points), and wind up buying most of their candy (except for a few pieces) at a price point we are both comfortable with.

Between school lunches, not to mention sugary holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, plus another inevitable birthday party every week, kids get way too many sweets. The result is often a lifetime of poor health, failing, scrambled body systems, and rotten teeth. When it starts this early, the responsibility lies with us as parents. We can play the victim and blame society, or fix the problem.

At BadDaddy, we fix things (or blame ourselves). This one’s easy, and what better time to start than Halloween. So go ahead and be the change you want to see.

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Like this column? How about some cocktail treats for mom and dad up next.

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