ó Every Halloween, Kimberly Grabinski braces for the piles
of candy her son and daughter collect from their northwest
Indiana neighborhood during trick-or-treat night.
healthy lifestyle and parenting blogger, Grabinski lets her
9-year-old and 5-year-old keep 10 favorite pieces from their
candy collections. The rest is distributed to relatives, or
traded to mom and dad for a small toy or a couple of dollars.
do a lot of bargaining," Grabinski said.
holiday synonymous with candy approaches amid the ongoing
national conversation about obesity and health, Grabinski and
other parents and party planners are angling to make their
festivities less about handing out sugary goodies. From
suburban school districts offering fresh fruit as snacks at
their Halloween parties to sponsors at a Lincoln Park Zoo
event handing out toothbrushes, some celebrating the holiday
are taking small steps to halt what they see as a year-round
sugar overload for kids.
I was a kid, (Halloween) was like the only time we got
candy," said Grabinski, 41. "Now itís like these
kids are having birthdays and theyíre bringing candy and
cupcakes. Our society overall is more inundated by
why Grabinski said sheís passing on the minibags of M&Ms
and other what she calls "mainstream candy" that she
usually hands out to trick-or-treaters at her Lowell, Ind.,
home, and instead will give organic lollipops and spider
rings, among other trinkets, this year.
Park Zoo officials said their annual "Spooky Zoo
Spectacular" event, which is scheduled for Saturday, has
seen a shift to "healthier fun" in recent years,
with sponsors handing out fresh fruit, toothbrushes and
natural ingredient-filled energy bars.
Downtown Oak Park association partnered last week for the
fourth year in a row with a national group called Green
Halloween, so when ghouls and witches trick-or-treated in the
west suburbís downtown, participating shop owners handed out
only refreshments that are organic and eco-friendly.
are in on the trend.
snacks and wheat crackers will accompany the games and crafts
at Halloween parties in Geneva Community Unit School District
304, which in recent years adopted a wellness policy that
forbids treats for birthday parties but allows healthy ones,
like fresh fruits and vegetables, rice cakes and plain
pretzels, for some classroom holiday parties.
in Batavia Public School District 101 will eat nothing at
their Halloween parties after district officials changed its
wellness policy earlier this year in an attempt to better
protect kids with allergies, or families that canít afford
to feed a whole classroom, said the districtís chief
academic officer, Brad Newkirk.
still continue to do crafts and games," Newkirk said. But
snacks wonít "be present at those parties," he
sure, candy is still a major part of most kidsí Halloween
experience, despite the changing behaviors. Candy sales, which
always peak around Halloween, are projected to reach $2.4
billion this year, having grown each of the past five years,
according to the National Confectioners Association.
Americans didnít always engorge youths with sweets on Oct.
as children know it today didnít become popular nationwide
until after World War II as an effort to alleviate Halloween
pranks, said Lesley Bannatyne, a Massachusetts-based author of
four nonfiction books about Halloween and its history. Before
trick-or-treating evolved to children in costumes waiting
politely on doorsteps, youths were out after dark
"ringing doorbells, removing porch steps, stealing gates
and sometimes banging on doors in disguise and demanding
sweets or money," Bannatyne said in an email.
and TV programs helped popularize the idea of handing out
treats, and retailers began offering packaged candies to
disseminate to the kids.
food giants Ö were in the Halloween candy business, the
genie was out of the bottle," Bannatyne said.
seeking to change behaviors on the holiday insist they arenít
trying to cancel the holiday fun.
Ziff, director of Green Halloween, a national organization
that helps community organizers throw Halloween parties with
healthier alternatives to traditional candy, said one of her
essential missions is to make parents aware that they have
options on the holiday. Green Halloween posts what it calls a
candy "cheat sheet" that offers tips on what
specifically to avoid ó things like artificial dyes and
flavors ó if youíre searching for organic and sustainably
donít just have to throw your hands up in the air and say,
ĎForget it, I donít know what else to do, Iím just gong
to let my kids have all the junk they want on Halloween,í"
said that in recent years "cleaner," organic treats
have become easier to find, with brands like Surf Sweets and
Grabinski, who is forgoing handing out mainstream candy this
year, said there is room for sugary treats on the holiday ó
not about complete deprivation," she said. "Itís
about being smart and healthy."
STORY CAN END HERE)
students at Harrison Street Elementary School in Geneva, Ill.,
are embracing the candyless Halloween parties theyíve had at
their school the past four years, said Principal Shonette
Sims. Parents have led the way, she said, bringing in
kid-friendly healthy snacks, like mandarin oranges cut to look
like a jack-oí-lantern.
thatís their only option, thatís what they eat," Sims
parents looking for a place to get rid of all those goodies,
Wisconsin-based dentist Chris Kammer hopes to help.
dental office, and more than 1,000 others across the country,
will accept Halloween candy as part of a national program
called Operation Gratitude. Collected candy is sent to
soldiers overseas inside care packages.
many are drawn to the idea of offering sweets to those serving
the country, Kammer said he also likes how the program gets
sweets out of little onesí hands ó and off their teeth.
the collections are held the day after Halloween, Kammer said,
so the sugar is "out of sight, out of mind for the
not surprisingly, most such initiatives are led by adults.
Evan Pegorsch, who with the help of his mom is putting the
last-minute touches on his Obi-Wan Kenobi costume this week,
said the best part of Halloween is watching a full-size candy
bar drop into his pumpkin-shaped bucket.
mom, Kathryn, is handing out a mix of hard candies, organic
fruit snacks and cheddar crackers to trick-or-treaters. Thatís
OK, Evan said, but he prefers when their Naperville neighbors
give out what he calls the "junky" goodies ó
especially Twix and Nestle Crunch candy bars.
kids will get more excited," he said.