It’s Tricky Choosing Treats

I’m loath to hand out store-bought candy, but is there really any alternative?

Last week, I gave up my post-feminist fantasy of sewing costumes for my family and went to a chain clothing store, only to find that the costume racks were nearly bare. (Apparently most parents don’t wait until the week before Halloween to buy their kids costumes. Who knew?) Trying to contain my panic, I rushed my three daughters to the discount shop next door. We were greeted by a clearance rack of costumes, and my five-year-old twins quickly honed in on a pair of shiny, yellow M&M ones.

“We love M&Ms,” they said together, trembling with fervor for this symbol of forbidden fruit. “Can we have these costumes, Mommy? Please?”

The bright polyester suits were garish. They were six dollars each. I got them. On the drive home, I couldn’t decide whether I’d made a mistake. By letting my daughters wear these costumes, was I supporting their desire for processed candy? Or the relentless branding and marketing of unscrupulous food companies? Was I, by extension, contributing to the epidemic of childhood diabetes and obesity in America?

Too tired to even think about shopping for different costumes, I decided that if I wanted to stand up to the junk food establishment, I should simply not offer candy to trick-or-treaters. There—that was settled.

So, what should I give instead? Like a woman at the end of our block, I could give handfuls of pennies, but that seemed both miserly and a possible choking hazard. Apples—even organic, locally grown ones—raise the suspicion of needles and razor blades. I could do ghost stickers or spider trinkets, but what parent wants more junk around the house?

Friday is fast approaching and, with no viable alternative, I’ve begun to rationalize my surrender to the candy conglomerate: I only let my kids have store-bought candy a few times a year, fully participating in the holiday builds community in the neighborhood, and so on. It’s Halloween—I have to give away store-bought, overly processed sweets to trick-or-treaters. But I can hold onto my food ideals and let my love of baking shine for my daughters’ school parties. I’m going to make Double-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies using bat-shaped cookie cutters. The taste of real butter and cocoa powder—that’ll teach those kids a thing or two.

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