Friday, November 5, 2010
This year, I asked myself, “Why candy on Halloween?” as I set out to buy Halloween goodies for the eager little ones that were prepared to go from door-to-door asking for a treat.
At a time in our country where we are faced with rates of obesity among children as high as 17% and with the reality that our children will be less healthy than we are, why are we giving our children more empty calories to solidify their fate?
This year, I vowed to think outside of the box on this and try a little social experiment of my own. From what I can tell, Halloween’s early beginnings didn’t just involve children getting candy, but required some responsible action on their part as well.
In Scotland and Ireland, children trade candy for a poem or a joke. In Canada, the treat was literally an effort to keep the children responsible by not doing tricks. “Why then, can’t I have a requirement for my treats?” I thought. So this year, my husband and I decided that every piece of candy we gave came with an apple, pretzels or a 100-calorie popcorn ball. I liked to call it my own social experiment.
Although, I definitely got some strange looks as I passed out treats at my trunk (my kids are part of the generation that does trunk-or-treating which involves decorating your car and passing out candy to kids from your trunk), I was pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who on both days of trunk-or-treating (we did it on Saturday at our son’s karate school and on Sunday at our church) were not just excited about their shiny new apple, but told their friends who then came over and asked, “are you the lady giving away apples?”
I can’t tell you how proud I felt to see that all was not lost.
The reality for me was that if Halloween treats originated as apples and oranges and other healthy snacks, today’s kids might be as excited receiving these treats as the kids that dropped by my trunk. It solidified for me how critical the choices I make as a parent are to the level of excitement my own children will have about healthy food. In this case, just “an apple that day” may have made an impact. At the very least, it was one less piece of candy in the already overfilled sacks for every child that dropped by to visit the car dressed up like Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Renique Kersh, author of this post, may be reached directly here.