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Holy Hot Tamales! In 2019, Americans spent an estimated $2.6 billion dollars on Halloween candy — and that doesn’t even count the costly cavity aftermath! Even if Halloween celebrations look a bit different this year due to the ongoing pandemic, the National Retail Federation forecasts that sales of sweet treats will still soar nearly as high.
But take note, Smarties (and Nerds): When the American tradition of trick-or-treating first started in the 1930s and ʼ40s, families handed out coins, pieces of fruit, and popcorn balls to little ghosts and goblins.
Then in the 1950s, after the sugar rationing of World War II ended, candy companies had a PayDay hey-day with Halloween marketing, and Snickers and Skittles eventually became as common as stars in the Milky Way. (Feel free to groan like a zombie at the puns 😱.)
Unfortunately, all that sugar feeds bloodcurdling bacteria that can cause monstrous cavities — your mouth’s own horror movie. So we’ve got some Twix up our sleeves for Halloween treats that won’t turn teeth into crumbling gravestones. (And unlike dreaded raisins, none of them are on PopSugar’s “Worst Halloween Candy” list!)
Below, 15 ghoulish goodies from our staff and Instagram community that will keep grins glowing bright as a jack-o’-lantern at midnight! All of these are perfect for packing into individual to-go treat bags — a safer alternative this year to the candy grab bowls of the past. Plus, we've included two sweet ideas for how to help candy-hoarding tots part with at least some of their loot.
“You put them on fruits like fibrous apples, and it encourages kids to eat healthier alternatives to candy 🍎,” says @kjk_dentalcorp. These allergen- and gluten-free stickers can turn carrots and cucumbers into silly monsters — like cute costumes for produce!
OK, so we’re a bit biased, but our absolute favorite treat is the Cocofloss Trick-or-Treat Set! It comes with a dozen Cocofloss Minis (each 8 yards long) that are the perfect size to hand out to spooks of all ages. They’re fun, festive, and fatal to boogeyman bacteria.
Cocofloss team member Sammie Yamashita is “obsessed” with SmartSweets Fish, a plant-based treat made without added sugar. @cleanbeautycleansoul votes for them, too! Sammie also has a soft spot for sugar-free candies made with xylitol, a natural sweetener that helps slay tooth decay. Check out those made by Dr. John's.
Even the American Dental Association approves of this recommendation from @thehappymamabear. Sugar-free gum works like a Ghostbuster’s proton pack to help neutralize ghastly cavity-causing acids on chompers. Look for brands made with xylitol for extra bacteria-zapping power.
“They’re borderline candy, I know,” admits Cocofloss co-founder Cat Cu. “But they're full of antioxidants!” (Leave it to the Floss Boss to include one of the sweetest treats on the list! 😆) Blood-red and nearly black, dark-chocolate-covered cherries could tempt the Dracula in your brood. Or offer them individually wrapped to little vampire bats.
Bee super sweet this holiday with this suggestion from @kelseykabonick. We especially like sticks filled with Manuka honey from New Zealand, a natural antimicrobial that can inhibit the growth of oral bacteria. Boo-tiful bonus: If you get burned while lighting a jack-o’-lantern, Manuka honey can help heal the wound!
Here’s a truly scary fact: Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians. Help cars spot wee witches and wizards from a distance with glow sticks and bracelets, recommended by multiple Cocofloss fans, including @ravenlockard, @herexnow, @cyrenainnl, and @minderblender. For a reusable option that still shines bright, consider mini LED flashlights in a rainbow of colors.
Brilliantly colored, handmade friendship bracelets are sure to bring a coven closer.
Let models of monsters and mummies come to life in the minds of tiny Frankensteins. “Costco sells gigantic packs of mini Play-Doh, and they’re perfect for handing out!” advises @chelsclearman.And they’ve worked on their packaging to make it more sustainable.
Wikki Stix“trick-or-treat paks” contain a Halloween-themed playsheet and eight Wikki Stix, which are bendable, twistable toys made of yarn and non-toxic wax. Don’t be surprised if they turn into tarantulas, black cats, and bats!
If your little superheroes end up with a surplus of sweets on Halloween night, here are a couple of options that might tempt them to part with at least some of their loot (and you won’t have to sneakily snarf it up yourself).
The “sister of the Tooth Fairy” the Switch Witch magically turns sweets into a special gift overnight. The original company was started by a mom after she learned her daughter had Type 1 Diabetes. Proceeds help support the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Teal Pumpkin Project. The Switch Witch also helps parents send spare candy to deployed troops and first responders through Operation Gratitude.
How about trading candy for cash? Some dental offices and local businesses offer money, coupons, or other incentives for kiddos to sell off their sugary treasures. The candy then often goes to veterans organizations such as Move Forward America and Operation Shoebox (you can also donate candy to them directly). Look online for a nearby buy-back location, and be sure to call ahead to see if there are any rules or specific drop-off times.
Lock candy in the crypt this Halloween and treat your fiends to Cocofloss! It'll make their pump-grins glow!