Halloween and candy. They go hand in hand, right? Well, over time, that surely has become the case. Did you know that we spend more than $2 billion on candy each and every Halloween in the United States? That’s a lot of money!
How much candy does that $2 billion buy? A whopping 200 million pounds of candy! That’s equal to the weight of six Titanic ships.
The average American consumes 3.4 pounds of candy over Halloween, and the average child consumes 7,000 calories and three cups of sugar. They’d need to trick-or-treat over 180 miles to burn that off. Whoa!
That would all be fine and dandy if candy was actually good for us, but — unfortunately for all those sweet tooths out there — it’s not. Between the sugar, preservatives, food dyes, and other questionable ingredients, candy isn’t doing anything to boost our health.
In addition to general health concerns, childhood allergies are on the rise. Many kids can’t even eat the candy they’re given on Halloween. That’s how the Teal Pumpkin Project was born. This project encourages people to have non-candy or non-allergenic options available for kids with food allergies.
Whether you’re concerned about the massive amount of sugar and harmful ingredients we’re dosing our children with every Halloween or you want to be considerate of children with food allergies, we have compiled a great list of alternatives to Halloween candy.
Non-Food Alternatives to Halloween Candy
As a child, one of my neighbors had a bucket of coins to dish out on Halloween. We’d walk up to the door and they’d pour a big scoop of coins into each of our buckets. No matter that it was mostly pennies — we loved it.
Most kids love nature and picking up rocks. Imagine the look in their eyes when you pull out a bowl of tumbled stones they get to choose from! You may wind up with a line at your door. (Just make sure little ones know they’re not edible!)
While not exactly eco-friendly, a small Halloween-themed novelty can be a great alternative to candy and kids think they’re cool.
Another fun alternative to candy is friendship bracelets. It’s fun for kids to trade them with their friends or siblings after Halloween is over. You can even get them in Halloween colors.
Glow stick necklaces
There is one business in town that always hands out glow stick necklaces on Halloween, and there is always a long line. They’re a hit! The added bonus is they make kids more visible walking down the street.
This fun toy is also super affordable to buy in bulk. Kids love bouncy balls and they’ll be pleased to see this alternative to candy land in their Halloween bag.
Healthier Edible Alternatives to Halloween Candy
Bags of sliced apples
I know most kids would turn their noses up if they were handed a bag of sliced apples, but my daughter would reach for those over candy any day. It’s a nice option to have available on Halloween even if it’s not the only option.
MySuperCookies whole-grain cookies are allergy-friendly and made in a nut-free facility. They’re certified USDA organic, low sugar, and come in trick-or-treatable 1-ounce packs in fun superhero shapes.
Annie’s Halloween Bunny Grahams
These cute graham cracker bunnies are made with organic wheat flour and they’re Non-GMO Project Verified. They contain no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, synthetic preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup, making them a great choice over traditional Halloween candy.
YumEarth Fruit Snacks
While these fruit snacks do contain sugar, they are much better than traditional candy because the ingredients are simpler. YumEarth Fruit Snacks contain real fruit extracts and no artificial ingredients. They’re certified organic and free of most potential allergens, and they’re gluten-free.
You can get cute boxes of raisins, cranberries, cherries, and other dried fruit to offer as an alternative to candy on Halloween. Many kids are becoming more and more aware of what they eat and will welcome a choice other than candy.
Another great choice is small bags of nuts like almonds. While not necessarily allergy-friendly, nuts are a wonderful choice for children who are sensitive to sugar.
Although technically candy, these untraditional Zollipops are sweetened with xylitol rather than sugar. Xylitol has been shown to have positive benefits on dental health. Our dentist even hands out xylitol-sweetened lollipops after cleanings.
What to Do With the Extra Candy?
Even if you’ve become more conscious of your purchases on Halloween, most people won’t be. If your children come home with a whole sack of candy you would prefer they don’t consume, consider implementing the Switch Witch.
We started with the Switch Witch when our oldest was in kindergarten, and it was the best decision we’ve made about Halloween. The girls get to keep enough candy to fit in a sandwich bag. The rest of the candy gets set out on the front porch for the Switch Witch.
The story is that the Switch Witch needs a ton of candy to have a party with her other witch friends. So if you leave your candy out for her, she’ll leave you a gift. This gift is usually something small — a few books, a doll, or something similar. This year, I’m planning to have the Switch Witch leave crystals for my daughters since they’ve asked if the tooth fairy could start doing that.
If you use the Switch Witch to dispose of your child’s Halloween candy, don’t fall into the trap of eating all that candy yourself. It’s all too easy to sit down on the couch and binge on your child’s Halloween candy. Take a few pieces for yourself if you’d like, then take the bag directly out to the garbage or, better yet, package it up to donate to Operation Gratitude.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.com. Originally published on October 26, 2016, this article was updated in October 2020.