Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Horrific High-Fructose Corn Syrup Hypocrisy: An Exorcism!

I can no longer be a hypocrite on Halloween and hand out high-fructose corn syrup to wide-eyed, bewondered, innocent little children. “Trick or treat?” in our culture has really become “Trick or toxin?”, and I refuse to hand out the latter to developing children. I won’t do it, I tells ya!

In point of fact, I feel that the whole custom of trick-or-treating is an anachronistic, archaic one given that this is decidedly not Walton’s Mountain and is, in fact, 2010, a time loaded to the gills with SCARY people whose doors I wouldn’t want my child, if I had one, knocking on for any reason, let alone to request candy. Don’t get me wrong on the subject of Halloween itself: I still very much appreciate the original seasonal, harvest, autumnal celebration aspect of it, and the dressing in costume/role playing aspect of it, especially in terms of its profound value for children, as it helps the development of their imagination, empathy and risk-taking, and gives them and all of us a way to explore our deepest fears (death!) in a safe way. All that very good, healthy, wonderful stuff, however, has been eclipsed by the mean-spirited, disrespectful destructiveness that abounds on Halloween night, which I’m not even going to delve into here, and the insatiable quest for corn syrup, to which I’m about to provide a positive alternative.

I doubt very much that I could successfully stir up any sort of anti-trick-or-treating movement--although, think of it: wouldn’t it be nicer to have organized (safe!) events like parties and evening/night outdoor costume parades for the kiddies and for all of us, versus trick-or-treating, which, again, I gotta say, is a dangerous anachronism? I think so, but since I also think trick-or-treating is here to stay, no matter what I think of it, let me instead tell you about some corn-syrup-free, organic, alternative candy options I’ve discovered, purchased, and plan to dole out to the little ‘uns and to all the huge, humorless hulks who show up in no costumes at all, pillowcases open, cigarettes dangling from mouths, demanding candy...although anyone over 18 and/or sans costume deserves any corn syrup that comes their way.

Last week, I learned of three brands of alternative candy, one of which I just purchased about $20.00 dollars worth of at my local health food store and I feel very good about planning to hand it out on Halloween. Giving the aforementioned little-bitty bewondered pumpkins and witches non-toxic treats is good for one’s karma, me thinks. Just as important as not participating in the mass poisoning of our nation's little ‘uns, is the fact that, by voting with your wallet (which is the most effective way to change how corporations do business), you are powerfully freezing out Big Corn Syrup’s biggest profits of the year, and sending a clear message that we want candy without corn syrup or any toxic junk in it. Finally, as always, choosing to buy from companies that use sustainably-grown, organic ingredients is better for our planet, too. So, in the seemingly small act of choosing healthier Halloween candy, you are, in one fell swoop, helping the health of our nation's kids, sending a clear message to Big Agribiz, and helping our planet. What’s not to love?

The brand I bought (Yummy Earth) is not only free of high-fructose corn syrup, it is certified organic, which is an added bonus. I tried one piece, in the name of vetting the brand for you, my vast legion of readers, and I can honestly say it was delish. True, I haven’t had any candy in YEARS, so maybe that added to the wondrousness of it, yet I agree with the Today show host whom the company quotes on the back of the package as saying it was the “best lollipop I ever had”. They come in lollipop (on a stick) form and in lollipop drop (hard candy) form and mine was a “drop”, but it is the same candy. Lovely. I heartily recommend the Yummy Earth brand from first-hand scrutinizing and tasting. Two other brands listed below (Indie Candy and Surf Sweets) are ones that look relatively good (compared to mainstream candy, of course, not compared to, say, organic kale leaves, but candy is meant to be a special, extraordinary, and, in my opinion, rare treat for the little dears) based on the ingredients, but I haven’t tried them. Finally, I've listed Endangered Species, a great brand of chocolate that I have tried.  Here is the information I’ve gleaned on all of the above (click on each company's name to go to their web page):

Yummy Earth

As I said above, this is the brand I purchased and actually ingested one piece of, in order to “test drive” it for blogging purposes. I enthusiastically recommend it because it is not only free of corn syrup (and their citric acid is not corn-derived, it is from beets), it is gluten-free, free of chemical colors and artificial flavors, GMO-free and, best of all, is certified organic by both the USDA and the EU, and I can personally attest to the deliciousness of the lollipops/candy drops.

Indie Candy

Indie Candy offers their own line in addition to candies by other small, independent makers of allergen-free candies.  They have corn-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, allergen-free, soy-free, dairy/casein-free, nut-free, kosher, organic and vegan options, and all their products are free of artificial flavors and colors.

Surf Sweets

This brand isn’t certified organic like the Yummy Earth brand above is, but it does contain many individual organic ingredients and it’s gluten-free, corn-syrup-free (although I don't know if their "citric acid" is corn-derived) and GMO-free, so it is a relatively good, wholesome alternative to mainstream candy.

Endangered Species Chocolate

If you really want to go all out for the little ghosts and goblins, Endangered Species chocolates are expensive but excellent (I have tried their chocolates, although not the specific Halloween treats I linked above), gluten-free, corn-syrup-free, vegan and kosher.  10% of their proceeds go to wildlife conservation.

Here's to a lean, NOT mean, green Halloween!


  1. I've been buying the Yummy Earth lollypops for years- starting when my kids were in 4th grade, 3rd grade, and preschool (that's when I cut out artificial colors and other junk to help my middle child focus better.) My kids first ate them when they were still used to the "artificial" candy, and we've shared them with many young friends who still eat the chemical junk.

    The yummy earth lollypops are definitely popular with the kids- although the lemon flavor isn't a favorite.

    I haven't tried the other brands you've mentioned.

  2. I just learned last week of Yummy Earth's existence and I'm so impressed with the company, from the fact that their candy is certified organic to the great flavor of it, color me thrilled to have discovered them, and with the fact that the local health food store I shop at carries their products. It is a great feeling to know that, this Halloween, I will be handing out non-toxic treats to the kiddies, and supporting sustainable, organic practices and companies with my hard-earned dollars.

  3. P.S. The only fly in the ointment is that now, for the first time...ever, really, as even when I was a child myself, I never was into most Halloween candy, I'm actually tempted to delve into the stash before the little boo-bits arrive on Halloween. In previous years, just knowing that the candy was loaded with corn syrup and artificial what-not was enough to keep me out of it. I literally didn't and don't look at mainstream candy as being edible food, I look at it as "poison lite". If I had any leftover in a given year, I would freeze it until the next year and have no trouble whatsoever "resisting" it.

  4. I don't think mainstream chocolate is sweetened with HFCS, but it does (generally) have vanillin.

    Does anyone still remember the Chinese chocolate laden with Melamine from two years ago? I was thinking about that yesterday.

    You could give out dimes. After all, your good chocolate might be verboten due to some other diet you're not aware of!

  5. SPG, the Yummy Earth organic candy was a big, delicious hit. I'm going to stick with that from now on. I never did buy the chocolate to hand out, but I know a lot of kids (and adults!) LOVE chocolate (I never had a thing for it, as I prefer the Holy Trinity of salt, fat and carbs...*sigh*...where was I?), so I may buy some bite-size chocolates made by Endangered Species or another pure brand in years to come. My new thing is, I may "go dark" (house-lit-up-wise) and not even participate in trick or treating as a candy hander outer in future years. But that may be a subject for a future blog. For now, I will just say: I remember the melamine in pet food from China much more clearly than I do the chocolate situation. The pet food melamine situation was awful and, hopefully, eye-opening to a lot of consumers about commercial pet food. Note to self: healthy pet food, yet another subject for a future blog! So many topics, so little time!