While young children masquerading as demons and Power Rangers clutter around your doorstep this Halloween and you fill their buckets with candy, you may presume you are going about a tradition - trick o' treating - that has been around for centuries. But you would presume wrong.
The term "trick or treat" was first recorded a few years before the 1930s. In the 1930s, there were no real rules regarding what kind of treat you should provide your cloaked visitors. In fact, candy was sometimes they very least of expectations. Sometime around the 1950s, though, Big Candy saw Halloween as a its golden ticket and pummeled audiences with trick-or-treat-based advertising while flooding stores with Halloween-themed candies.
Handing out candy had the appeal of simplicity. There was no more guesswork behind deciding which treats would be best for the holiday. You could just buy a bag of sugary treats and be done with it.
Due to mass production of candy, though, some less than desirable ingredients sneak their way into Halloween candy. While past lists about the Worst Things Found in Halloween candy mostly focus on more obvious malicious behavior, this years list will mostly focus on sneaky little ingredients that are a bit more scary than you'd think.
Carmine is essentially crushed beetles. You crush, dry, and boil certain beetles and it creates a red dye, which you can find in various drinks and candies.
Tertiary Butylhydroquinon (TBHQ) is found in lighter fluid. And candy bars such as Butterfingers. Just let that soak in. What's worse is TBHQ is a very common preservative. TBHQ has been used for years as an antioxidant that prevents discoloration and flavor alteration.
Right now you might be wondering what's the worry if TBHQ is a common preservative that has been an ingredient in our sweets in foods for quite some time? The worry is that 5 grams is actually a lethal dose for most people. The good news, however, is that getting to 5 grams would be like eating 11 pounds of McDonald's chicken nuggets. But while it takes a lot of food to reach a level dose of TBHQ, it still doesn't mean it's a healthy ingredient.
This might be one of the more familiar terms on this list, but you might not realize how prominent it is in our sweets. In Anchorman, Ron Burgundy might you believe lanolin is sheep's wool, but that's not 100% accurate. Lanolin is actually sheep sweat, although the substance is found in wool. Where does lanolin fit into candy? It's sometimes under the label of gum base.
Hope you enjoyed this year's list of the Worst Things Found in Halloween Candy. Be sure to check out the original and Part II. Speaking of candy, Skittles & M&M have really been pumping out some decent, spooky advertisement. Check out this one from the 13th. No, I don't get paid for this. I just think it's nifty.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.