At one time candy or home-made treats were thrown into the kiddies Halloween bags and their parents were responsible for sorting through it before the kids ate it. For whatever reason, the treat giver of today is expected to assume part of that responsibility. This leaves many asking, what is safe to give?
The first thing to cross off the list is anything home-made unless you’re having a Halloween party at your home. In this day and age, no parent is going to let their child eat a popcorn ball from a stranger. Another consideration is the size of the treat. Some are small but large enough to get stuck in a child’s throat, like bite-size candies or gumballs. Others may be hard to dissolve, like taffy or caramel, and pose a choking risk. Instead of candy consider individual packages of pretzels, sunflower seeds, goldfish crackers, fruit roll-ups, or raisins.
More people today are aware of the common allergy to nuts, especially peanuts. While it’s easy to know that “Snickers” has nuts, it’s more difficult to know if the processing plant where the candy is made also processes nuts. It only takes a tiny bit of nut kernel to set off a severe allergic reaction in some people.
In general, it is safer to choose a non-chocolate candy because these are more likely to be produced in a nut-free facility. Think of Twizzlers, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike, Smarties and Sweet Tarts, or Lifesaver Gummies. If you still want chocolate, look for allergy information after the list of ingredients on the package. Watch for a warning that the candy is made in a facility that also processes peanuts, almonds, or tree nuts. Sometimes the warning is that the candy may contain traces of peanuts, etc. or that the equipment is also used for manufacturing peanuts or tree nuts. In view of this information, there are some treats developed where the manufacturing process is known to be safer. These include Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey Kisses, Chips Ahoy Cookies, York Peppermint Patties, and Oreo Cookies.
And so it goes until, with so many considerations, I decided to forego candy altogether. Instead, I began looking at all the products made by Crayola and checking the dollar stores for packages of things that could be divided. For instance, I’ve never seen a kid who didn’t like post-it notes or some sort of unusual pencil. Look for sheets of those temporary tattoos, little cookie cutters, beading, or plastic figurines like army men or farm animals. Look for glow in the dark eyeballs or Halloween stickers. If you don’t expect but a few trick-or-treaters, consider giving them money or individually wrapped fortune cookies. Anything you would give as a party favor will do for a Halloween treat.
The important thing is to participate and let children continue the fun of trick-or-treating in a safe manner.