What pretty candies can I give out for Halloween?

Updated Oct 12 2015
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Photo courtesy Matt Bites.

This question is MINE!

Gorgeous food is great porn: fun to look at, SO fun to imagine eating. Our copyeditor Caroline sent me this photo of glossy candied apples and I've been thinking about them for a WEEK. I would love to give out a pretty candy of my own this weekend, but A: no time and B: would kids even eat it? Aren't parents training them to reject all things not packaged?

What's a good, pretty, yummy, fun candy I can give out that won't offend guardians and — even better — will be suitable for kids with nut allergies or gluten intolerances?

    • Thanks for this link! It led me to the Natural Candy Store, and I'm loving the options (especially the allergy-conscious ones). I need to order quickly though!

  1. i'd stick to handing out prepackaged candy unless you want it to end up in the trash. inevitably, that's where it will go. parents are too paranoid – hell, they were paranoid when i was a kid in the 80s! keep the pretty stuff to a party you hold in your home.

  2. Here's the thing about getting a delicious-looking, fresh-baked treat from someone who looks TOTALLY legit when you have a mom that is overprotective and mildly ridiculous when it comes to all things seen once on 60 Minutes…
    it SUCKS to throw away the beautiful, glossy, heavenly-smelling candied apple. You pine for WEEKS for what you imagine that Rice Krispie treat may have tasted like. You seethe at your mother for days and days over the perfect slice of pumpkin roll that went into the garbage as soon as you got home.
    Not that I'd know from experience or anything.

    Save the beautiful treats for kids whose parents know you well, friends or party guests.

    And FYI, I made those exact, beautiful, glossy apples. No one ate them. Not even me.

  3. Oh! My family entire family goes Halloween hardcore every year, and my 'rents hand out juice boxes to all the trick or treaters. Last year we had over 300 kids, and we have been doing it so long that we are known as The Juice Box house. Maybe that could be an option for handing out something different?

  4. Parents have been trained since 1582 to never allow their kids to accept handmade, unpackaged, NOT STORE BOUGHT candy. I remember it being taught in schools too. Don't accept homemade treats like caramel apples or baked goods because someone's probably laced them with crack. Yaaay!

    Which totally sucks. But here's what I would do:

    I would buy a bunch of regular candy to hand out (all the Halloween sized Reese cups, Snicker bars, Skittles, etc), but I would make a small batch of handmade goodies for kids and parents you know very well. If the parents know you, they're more inclined to accept a handmade treat.

    This way you don't have to worry about kids being forced to throw out a yummy pumpkin sugar cookie by giving them a handful of Tootsie Rolls, but you still get to hand those yummy treats out to specific kids (who you know will get to eat them)! Best of both worlds!

  5. I struggled with this for ages; I finally determined that the only "safe" candy was no candy. About 4 years ago, we switched over to giving out small toys/glow bracelets/bubbles (depending on age group). We usually let the parents pick for the younger ones, and haven't had a single complaint.

    • that is AWESOME. We had one family in the neighborhood who gave out spider rings and glow sticks and stuff when I was a kid and it was our favorite stop.
      My parents gave out granola bars…

  6. I belong to my local celiac support group, and this is the link they sent out for gluten-free candies. All are pre-packaged, and the list includes other allergen information as well.

    http://surefoodsliving.com/2011/10/halloween-candy-list-gluten-free-allergen-free-2011/

    I suppose if you have a tight-knit neighborhood, people might know "Oh, Cat is cool; these would be safe to eat," but it is definitely a gamble. I know when I was growing up we were told to toss anything not pre-packaged (or even pre-packaged stuff that looked like its packaging had come a bit loose!) – unless we knew who it came from and that they weren't "those kinds of people."

  7. This whole "no home-made treats shall be eaten" thing REALLY irks me. It's enforced consumerism, teaching children that they can only trust the foods that are marketed to them in bright, shiny, individually wrapped packages. GRRRRR!
    I make treats every year, knowing that they will likely be discarded, but *hoping* that they will stir a thought process (trust your neighbors? eat local? wasting money on junk? too much packaging in the trash?)
    OCCUPY YOUR FRONT PORCH, HOMIES!

  8. I guess I'm going to put myself out there as the bad mom, or as I call it, calculated risk taker, who lets their kids eat stuff made by people around the neighborhood. I just don't think it is common enough that someone is intentionally out to hurt kids on Halloween via caramel apples, or that they are covering smallpox apples with caramel, or whatever else I'm supposed to be afraid of. I wish we could walk around the neighborhood and eat one yummy thing from each house instead of coming home with a giant bag of questionable sugary crap!

    No help here except to say that I would bring my kids to your doorstep and let them pig out on your generosity!

    • If you look at the actual cases of Halloween poisoning wherein children were actually harmed, it was intentional poisoning from some actual horrible parent trying to kill their own child for insurance money or something. I think we should bring this myth out of the dark.

  9. Make what you want, and then, give out two so that the parents can examine it before their kid eats it (or just eat it themselves). If they pick them up off a tray or out of a bag, there's no way you could have a "safe" set and a tampered set. Or, hand out homemade backed goods and include a small card with the information for a hospital willing to examine/x-ray candy for safety purposes. Chances are, the card just being there will soothe any fears, but if the parent is truly paranoid (or if the child got other home made goodies) then they can get their candy tested before consumption.

    • I live in the UK where hospitals are free… And they truly would tell you where to stick your candied apple if you tried to get them to x-ray it.

      This can't be a thing, right? SURELY there are some sick people to be helping or something, rather than spending time and resources checking rapidly going-off sweeties?

  10. I've seen where people included like a business card with homemade treats so that parents would know where the treats came from. Maybe giving your name and address would help so the parents will know what house it came from…?

  11. The REALLY ridiculous thing about the "nothing unpackaged on Halloween" thing, is that there has NEVER been a case of a stranger harming kids in this way. There have been a few cases of Halloween candy hurting kids, but they have ALL come back to people who knew the kids (creepily enough). Seriously. Fear for no reason, people.
    And yes, I know I'm preaching to the choir…

  12. I would like to say, as someone who trick or treated not very long ago, that what we as trick or treaters want is chocolate. So honestly, your lovely beautiful food porn pretties would most likely be wasted on the average kid. I would recommend saving your beautiful foods for your friends and their children.

  13. I used to have a neighbor who would invite any and all trick or treaters into her house to enjoy the treats she'd made. There were always caramel apples, fresh cookies, and hot mulled cider. I think there was also wine for the adults. This was 15-20 years ago, of course, so I doubt the same thing would fly now. I agree with a lot of the other commenters. Give out the normal candy to people you don't know, and when there's someone you know, invite them in for something more exciting!

    Now I want to do this, but I'm new to my area and only know one kid, and she lives on the other side of town.

  14. I remember one woman who always had apple cider in a big cooler with little paper cups and we thought it was awesome! Then there was an older couple who handmade lots of halloween gifts, scarecrow dolls, painted wooden boxes, pumpkin head shaker on a stick, etc. You would go into their house, pick a number from a cauldron and then they'd find the gift that matched your number. THE. COOLEST. THING. EVER. I so want to do this when we live somewhere with kids.

    What if you set up out front of your house, on your porch, or in your hall with a table full of handmade treats and some store-bought something and let the parents/kids choose? I think over time this would be accepted and welcomed.

  15. I went trick or treating as an adult in college, and the best place we stopped at was a little old man who gave us cokes and little debbie cakes cause didn't have any idea what kids were supposed to get for halloween anymore. And after we left he sat on his porch and gave kids sodas and cookies.

    Im sure not ever parent was happy about the soda but i know that was ever kids favorite house

  16. I don't think we will ever be able to stop the masses with their thoughts on home made candy. I think the only way to pretty things up is with the packaging that you provide the candy in. Maybe those little bags that you get the sweets in at weddings with a Halloween theme (silver bags, black ribbon, a plastic spider inside too) and a couple of wrapped lollies. I have a massive monster hand with a basket for the palm that I get the kids to pick out their lollies from. Have fun.

  17. Every year my family makes Halloween cookies to give out. My parents live in a rural area in a subdivision where most neighbours know each other. They've been doing it for 20+ years, and everyone know we are the cookie house!

    The cookies are chocolate chip oatmeal (around 3" across), we put chocolate icing on them, and then decorate each cookie with a monster face made out of candy. Each one gets put in a sandwich bag with a small slip of paper that says "Happy Halloween from the ****** family" and our phone number. I don't think my parents have ever gotten a phone call.

    It's a super fun family halloween activity to get together and decorate the cookies! And they make great gifts for friends and coworkers (& their families).

  18. As a kid, I definitely loved getting a never ending supply of peanut butter cups and Snickers bars on Halloween night, but I think my parents just begrudgingly let us eat the crap because there wasn't much of an alternative where we lived growing up. Now I feel like there are so many great choices out there. Like the gluten-free gummie bears they sell at Whole Foods, or fruit leather, or hell even things like Glo necklaces. We even have some local companies in my area that make more wholesome treats (candy made from honey instead of corn syrup, etc) that are also prepackaged to thwart the overly protective parents out there.

    I'd say a good start is going to Whole Foods to see what they're offering up in their Halloween section, then seeing if you can find it in bulk cheaper online ­čśë

  19. If you wanted to go with a non-edible treat…

    Every year at Halloween my grandmother hands out the party size containers of play-doh. Not safe for Celiacs, but otherwise the best Halloween surprise imaginable to a little one.

  20. If I were you I wouldn't give away any candy that wasn't sealed to trick or treaters because even when I was a kid in the early 90s, I was forced to throw away anything homemade or not factory sealed. That is unless you know the kid personally and then put a sticker or label on it that says what household it's from. I think a sticker or label would be necessary because by the end of the night, kids get so much candy they might not be able to remember and tell their parents that the homemade candy apple came from Mrs. Johnson down the street.

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