Every year at Halloween, nutrition advocates put out announcement that everyone should provide alternative treats to candies. Those alternative treats should meet certain criteria, and may include items such as contains or is:

  • Whole grain
  • Nut-free
  • Gluten-free 
  • Low-fat
  • Non-GMO
  • Organic
  • Locally sourced
  • Fruit snacks
  • Fruit cups
  • Cereal bars
  • Granola snacks
  • Cheese sticks
  • Pumpkin seeds

In looking up these alternatives, I found also protein bars, almond butter crackers, diet snack packs, juice boxes, prepackaged popcorn (unbuttered! — bleh), stamps, carabiners (had to do a double-take on that one), stickers, bubbles, mini notebooks, glow sticks, bouncy balls, slap bracelets or spider rings, mini Pla-Doh — and the, um, creative ideas just go on from there.

The coup de grâce: chocolate sea salt quinoa. 

I kid you not.

I am all about kids not having too much candy and sugar, especially mine. I keep sugary snacks and drinks in our house at the level of minimum-to-nonexistent. (At the moment, we have a bag of mini carrots, package of cheese sticks, jar of roasted peanuts less most of it and half a flat of water available for snacks and thirst respectively.)

The “fun treats” are reserved primarily for holidays and special occasions. (I’m not going to tell my kid he can’t have a piece of cake at another’s birthday party — or his own.) These holidays are supposed to be fun, to have the treats one doesn’t have on an everyday basis.

When I was a kid still in trick-or-treat mode, it was very rare that anyone handed out non-candy items, much less healthy alternatives. Many times, my brother and I would even end up with homemade popcorn balls, Rice Krispies treats and Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. Those were jackpot years when we were handed all three on top of name-brand candy.

As much as we would like to believe that Halloween is all about the costumes and going door-to-door and maybe going to a party to play games (and in part, it is), really — let’s be honest here — at the end of the night, when we get home and sit down, it’s about the candy haul.

The last thing a kid wants to see when they tump that pumpkin bucket onto the home floor is quinoa disguised in what is probably carob instead of real chocolate. Goodness knows, my kid has quinoa often enough at supper. 

The toys are pushed aside to become lost under the furniture (not too dissimilarly from those contents of every Christmas stocking ever) or plunked back into the pumpkin bucket to be forgotten until making a brief walk-on guest appearance in that TV Christmastime favorite, “Island of Misfit Toys.”

While I applaud the efforts and intentions of those who want to do their part to create a healthier world, I am among the holiday resistance. 

Gone are those days when there were fewer worries about bad people doing bad things to purposefully hurt our children. Most parents today find it too dangerous to accept homemade, hand-wrapped treats for Halloween trick-or-treating. 

Sugar has become the most recent victim of childhood tradition attacks. Some may argue that changing these traditions to fit modern societal acceptability is evolution. In a way, it is; however, that doesn’t mean that all traditions should be vanquished in the name of everyday nutrition. They’re called “treats” for a reason: they are indulgent and delightful.

I’ve yet to meet a quinoa that was either.

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