Time to Start the Halloween Freak Out!

Here’s the first of what will undoubtedly be a bulging bag full of Halloween warnings. In fact, please share drnakrndia
whatever excessive warnings or procedures your school or town is dishing out this Halloween.

Meanwhile, note how this “helpful” advice takes one night of candy gathering and turns it into a lifetime of suffering and sorrow. Because just ONE SUB-OPTIMAL childhood meal/activity/food/experience = lifelong regret. That’s how fragile kids are.

Dear Free-Range Kids:

The scariest part of Halloween has nothing to do with your costume. As kids fill their bags with candy, they’re also filling their mouths with gum disease and cavities.

And some joy. Whatever. The dentist being touted in this letter insists that “parents should have a plan of action before this year’s Trick or Treat.” Like it’s a Navy SEAL operation.

No plan in hand? Just gonna let your kids grab candy? Oh dear. “Any dental health problem such as tooth decay, gum disease, and orthodontic braces in kids have repercussions throughout their bodies,” the dentist says, adding that, “Digestive issues, allergies, sleep problems, depression, and anxiety are all downstream processes that begin in the mouth. This can all be prevented if you feed your children the right food.”

And you know what? He’s right that feeding kids the “right food” is a good idea. Not that you can ward off all evil with enough parsley smoothies. But they can do their part.

What the dental downer doesn’t acknowledge is that if you generally give your kids decent food, throwing Halloween candy to the mix does not mean it’s time to reserve them a room at Bellevue. It’s candy, not coke. (And not even Coke!)


Come here little child! Take this treat and soon you will look like me! 


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38 Responses to Time to Start the Halloween Freak Out!

  1. Dienne October 3, 2017 at 11:47 am #

    Funny. A dentist who’s never heard of a toothbrush and toothpaste.

  2. Specht October 3, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    I can’t think of anything recent, since I haven’t participated Halloween in a while, but I remember my schools always having ridiculous costume bans. I remember when I showed up to my elementary school’s costume parade in around 3rd grade proudly donning a bleeding skeleton mask, which had a pump attached to it, with which you could make fake blood run down the front. The staff were mortified and shocked that I would wear such a thing. I ended up changing into a grim reaper mask.

    Another time, in middle school, a girl I carpooled with showed up to school on Halloween in a rather modest bunny costume with whiskers drawn on her face. The principal threw a temper tantrum about the whisker makeup in front of a whole class and asked her to immediately remove it.

    I would think that its probably only gotten worse since I left middle school 6 years ago.

  3. Emily Gaudreau October 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    I love seeing your blog in my e-mail. I am the parent that freaks out about candy. You bring me back to earth every time! Thank you!

  4. Theresa Hall October 3, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    As with all things in life we need balance. Not too much of one thing like candy or too little of the other.such as yucky veggies
    I think as long we try for balance we won’t be too bad off. Yes there are terrible things that happen that probably nobody could predict but we just have pick up the pieces of our lives and try to move on to the best of our ability.

  5. Christopher Byrne October 3, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    I think this is more about developing a “news peg” and PR. Very typical to use scare tactics because that’s what the media wants. It’s not enough to have a reasoned response and realize that Halloween is one of the few times of the year children may indulge in too much sugar and suggest ways to deal with that. No, it’s far more “impactful” in this culture right now to make the parents wrong and scare them.

    And PR reps do it because it works. People have emotional reactions, and news shows love it because they can tease it and get you to watch.

    In addition to the Free Range Movement, we need an “Oh, Shut Up. I’m not a moron” movement. You can’t show me a direct correlation between five Fun Size Snickers bars and periodontal disaster? Then shut up.

    Of course that’s impolite and crass, but is it any more debased than trying to scare parents into paying attention to something that isn’t even defensible. Harrumph.

  6. that mum October 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Yeah my plan is wait till they crash from the sugar and steal the good stuff from their bags… have to be more careful as they get older so they don’t notice. no, you didn’t have 12 snickers you had 4…!

    my personal favorite new parenting thing is the “switch witch” who takes their candy and leaves them money or a toy. ugh. I would have slept with my candy under my pillow to protect it from her! I already had to protect it from my dad, but he mostly just stole the peanuts (yes I am that old, I used to get a lot of just peanuts in shells).

  7. Phil Mac October 3, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    I personally check all my kids’ Reese’s Cups for pins and razor blades. I do this by eating them … you can’t be too safe!

  8. John B. October 3, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    Goodness, it’s only once a year and most kids in a westernized culture do have access to toothpaste and a toothbrush. This dentists acts like Halloween is an everyday, year round activity.

  9. MonicaP October 3, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    Oh, FFS. One day of gorging on candy isn’t going to kill them. I plan to let my 4-year-old eat as much candy on Halloween as she can shove into her tiny candy hole. We also plan to offer her a choice: She can take 10 pieces and give us the rest in exchange for a toy. We’re interested in seeing which choice she makes. But it’s up to her.

  10. Curt Abbott October 3, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    Will this same dentist issue a similar warning for Easter? I kind of doubt it.

  11. Miriam Drukker October 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm #


    Reminds me of a community picnic/party we once went to, about 2 or 3 years ago (my daughter was 3 or 4). They had at the end a piñata. Not my choice, but, whatever. It’s a party. Suddenly my daughter comes to me, gives me all her candies and throws the candy from her mouth. I asked her if she didn’t like the flavor. She told me, trying hard not to cry, that she doesn’t want to loose all her teeth. Turns out that her best friends’ mom told her that eating candy will make her loose all her teeth. She probably said it to both out daughters, in order to persuade her not to eat the candies (or not all the candies). My daughter was sure that she will loose her teeth the following day from eating one (or ten) candies.

    It was so sad to see how easy it was to ruin all the fun for her… It was also a teaching experience for me. How easy it is to use fear and exaggeration in order to manipulate kids (and it turns out that adults too)…

    So what do I do with it? Let her stop eating and making sure she stays healthy thanks to this fear? Or let her enjoy the candies? I decided on telling her the truth…

    I told her: “She was right, it’s true that candies aren’t good for you, but that’s why we don’t eat it every day, just once in a while, and we always brush our teeth. But one candy won’t ruin your teeth, but a lot will, so today it’s OK if you want just a little bit. So she put the candy back in her mouth, not 100% convinced, and not 100% enjoying it… And I felt stupid that I’m encouraging my daughter to eat a candy, instead of letting someone else scare my child…

    Then again, I have all my teeth (except for 4 that were pulled out because of lack of space), some fillings, yeah, but didn’t have a filling for years (probably 15 years or more), never had a root canal, no crowns nor implants. Gums are not ideal, but OK. And I’m 10 years older than the other mom (who does have all of the above).

    The inner child in me cannot throw away candies. But that’s why we still have leftover candies from last Halloween. Plus birthday lootbags. She eats during the party (Halloween) and then just one a day. This way I never buy her candies, there’s always leftovers…

    Hmmm… And I also never did drugs, but something sweet does make me feel happier. Not good for your health, but definitely not as bad as drugs. Maybe because I have less anxiety about my weight and my oral health, I’m able to limit my addictions to the less harmful ones? Dunno…

    P.S. I don’t like piñatas. Kids have enough treats, cakes etc without it, not to mention that it was in a park, and it’s impossible to clean it all, so we’re leaving the place dirty, bad for the environment etc etc. And the kids become super greedy. So I won’t have it in my daughter’s birthday, but I won’t say anything to anyone else bringing it, because it does create joy.

  12. Miriam Drukker October 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    Hmmm… I think last year on Halloween the kids were not allowed to bring weapons. No swords or guns. It saved me, as my daughter was Hiccup, and he has a fire sword, that I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it. While thinking about it, my daughter announced that it’s not allowed. Yay, one less thing to do!

    My mom allowed us to play with toy guns only on Purim (the Jewish dress-up holiday). I didn’t know why (now I know; because she’s a pacifist). Although playing or not playing with guns didn’t affect us, especially since she didn’t bother explaining to us why it’s not OK to use them. But I dressed up quite a few times as a cowboy (my mother insisted I was a cow-girl, and that was OK with me, because I got to put lipstick). I probably chose this costume because I love(d) fire, and the noises of those cap guns (they are banned now I think, because too many kids’ costumes caught fire from it). Whatever. We were also allowed make up only on that day. I still wear make up only on that day (or when performing), so I guess I never learned that it was a child’s rule, and not an adult rule… Or was it?

  13. Backroads October 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    My parents just insisted me brush our teeth and drink lots of water that night.

    A plan of action? What does that even mean? Don’t grab candy?

  14. Melissa October 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    “Dental downer” is my new favorite phrase! I have lived on a candy-heavy diet for most of my nearly 39 years. I eat a lot of healthy stuff too. Just had my annual physical and I am super healthy, with blood pressure that is borderline TOO low and blood sugar that is also borderline TOO low. I am within my “ideal” BMI range. I don’t exercise (except my arm lifting candy to my face). It is clearly NOT the toxic poison people love to claim! I’ve had a lot of dental work, but it was all due to genetics and not hygiene (baby teeth that never came out, permanent teeth the grew in from the roof of my mouth, etc). And the stuff definitely will not hurt my kids for a few weeks of the year. Though honestly, they eat more candy than their friends too. When they were little and rarely ate candy, they both got cavities. Neither has had a cavity since age 5 or so, when I started letting them have candy. Draw your own conclusions!

  15. Roger the Shrubber October 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    How I miss the killer clown craze from last year. A recent horror film release had me expecting a return. Alas, it has not happened.

  16. lightbright October 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    Not from my school or town, but the American Academy of Pediatrics is still promoting the poisonous-candy canard. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx

    “Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.”

  17. lollipoplover October 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    My plan of action is to steal as much of the delicious chocolate bars as I possibly can from my trick-or-treaters!
    That’s the only reason I *inspect* it. To steal Twix, Snickers, and 100 Grand bars. I then hide them in the freezer in a frozen spinach box that’s hollowed out. Genius!

  18. Specht October 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    Another thought, if it were actually likely that candy were to be tampered with, wouldn’t we want to teach kids to (gasp) spot the signs themselves? Or is that just too much self-sufficiency for the Velcro minds of the public to fathom?

  19. Dora October 3, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    We didn’t have Halloween where I grew up when I was a kid, but we had Easter… my parents had a pretty simple rule: you can go look for chocolate eggs and eat as many as you want BUT before you go, you eat your breakfast. There was always whole bread and butter, hard boiled egg and some fruit that day. The full belly didn’t stop me from stuffing myself with sweets, but it probably slowed me down and made up the balance. That’s what I do with the kids now: eat all you want, but have some veggie soup first.

  20. Ashley Wright October 3, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    I am like the queen of candy. I ate a ton as a kid and even now as an adult I am pretty obsessed. I have had maybe 2 or 3 cavities in my entire 34 years of life. I was known to eat candy before bed and not brush my teeth. I think if your kids have bad genes and are prone to cavities it might be a good idea to talk about which candies are worst for teeth and maybe limiting those, but otherwise let them be kids! If they give themselves tummy aches they will learn how to regulate themselves better!

  21. Mike October 3, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    My plan of action? Hand over the SweetTarts, those yummies are MINE. Bwa ha ha!

  22. Dafna October 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    “I personally check all my kids’ Reese’s Cups for pins and razor blades. I do this by eating them … you can’t be too safe!”

    Now I want a peanut butter cup!

  23. Theresa Hall October 3, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    I thought when it came to the stories about drugs in candy were a bit silly. Drugs don’t come cheap so why would anyone after paying good money for the drugs just hand them over to any old Tom dick or Harry. Talk about wasting good money.

  24. Workshop October 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    Not quite related, but a fun dental story that worked to scare my kid into brushing his teeth . . ..

    I was chewing on a cheez-it cracker, and cracked a crown. Yep, on a cracker. So I spit out this niced size piece of resin, realized it wasn’t part of the cracker, and went “Well, crap. Hey, lil’ Workshop, c’mere!”

    He came over, I showed him the piece that fell out. “You know what that is?”

    “That’s part of my tooth. See?” I opened my mouth and pointed to missing part of my tooth.
    His eyes got pretty big.
    “That’s what happens if you don’t brush your teeth.”

    It worked for about a week.

    Yes, I am a bad dad. Wait until I get to explain girls to him . . . .

  25. George October 3, 2017 at 5:57 pm #

    Do hospitals still make free offers to xray candy? Does the press still give warnings about only accepting candy in tamper-evident wrappers?

    The mainstream press is scarier than the ghosts and witches.

  26. Skip October 3, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

    Annual PSA: the one and only verified case of poisoned Halloween candy was 40+ years ago when an evil man murdered his own son for the insurance money.

  27. elizabeth October 3, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    For petes sake! I hardly ever brush my teeth due to personal reasons, but i havent had a cavity or tooth ache in three or four years because i make up for it by chewing sugar free gum. Yes, gum. And i hope the press has done away with the tampered with candy myth, but probably not. The drugs they suspect people are handing out willy nilly are too expensive for that. And razor blades? My parent didnt really inspect my candy (except for “inspecting” candy i didnt like). I never swallowed anything horrible.

  28. Judas Peckerwood October 3, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

    @Roger the Shrubber: “How I miss the killer clown craze from last year. A recent horror film release had me expecting a return. Alas, it has not happened.”

    Despair not, my friend, the Halloween season is just getting started — plenty of time left for hysteria and fear-mongering!

  29. Emily October 3, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    >>We didn’t have Halloween where I grew up when I was a kid, but we had Easter… my parents had a pretty simple rule: you can go look for chocolate eggs and eat as many as you want BUT before you go, you eat your breakfast. There was always whole bread and butter, hard boiled egg and some fruit that day. The full belly didn’t stop me from stuffing myself with sweets, but it probably slowed me down and made up the balance. That’s what I do with the kids now: eat all you want, but have some veggie soup first.<<

    Yeah, that's how Halloween worked when I was growing up too–trick-or-treating came after dinner. My parents didn't institute any rule against gorging on candy before breakfast on Christmas or Easter morning, but my brother and I figured it out on our own one year when we ate all our Christmas chocolate at once, on otherwise-empty stomachs. It wasn't even good chocolate; it was those awful waxy milk chocolate coins, and balls, and bells–for some reason, we got a LOT of chocolate that year. Anyway, we felt sick to our stomachs, and after that, we paced ourselves. I think I was maybe eight or nine that year, and I still remember how awful it felt.

  30. Emily October 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

    P.S., The “evils of sugar” freak-out is just the beginning……what about the “Satanic panic” freak-out, the “dangerous costumes” (low visibility, flammable, tripping hazards, et cetera) freak-out, the “promoting obesity” freak-out, “food allergy” freak-out, the “tainted candy” freak-out, the “too scary for my snowflake, so nobody should get to do it” freak-out, the “pedophiles on the prowl on Halloween, when there are tons of witnesses and usually police around” freak-out, and of course, the ever-popular “kids walking around after dark is dangerous, because traffic, so I’m going to trail my kids in the car” freak-out?

  31. lollipoplover October 3, 2017 at 9:43 pm #


    We started a Halloween happy hour/block party as a way to get the kids sone real food prior to trick-or-treating and just to get together and have fun before dark.

    Most of the food is covered dishes with emphasis on the gross out factor. I always make *Brains and Innards* (spagetti and meatballs) and put it on the buffett table inside a fake body. Lots of fingers, eyeballs, spiders and witches brew and other food items to have fun with.

    We also do jars of terror and make disgusting concoctions to make kids put their hands into…label them *vomit* or *cat turds* (tootsie rolls) and gross the kids out. We’ve given out cotton candy to trick or treaters and (gasp!) soda on hot nights. I love Halloween.
    Now I want candy!!

  32. Max October 3, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    “Bring a spooky thing. No toy weapons” – this is an instruction we’ve got from our preschool

  33. Lianne October 4, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    I stopped giving candy out a few years ago. Not because I object to candy (my girth says I don’t), but because I didn’t want to have leftovers that I feel obligated to eat. And hey, in my neighbourhood, they get plenty of candy. Besides, the first I did it, I spent less than $10 on glowstick bracelets at Michaels.

    This year I am giving out super bouncy balls that look like eyeballs, and mini bubble-blowing tubes. I don’t know that the parents will thank me, but the kids will have fun, and my nieces have volunteered to take any and all leftovers off my hands.

  34. PacMom October 4, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    I’m with Dora and Emily. Just make them eat something decent and have some water before they go. And that’s just so they don’t eat enough candy to make themselves sick.

  35. Suze October 4, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    Last year, Lenore posted the infamous ‘watch out for the coloured candy that looks like sculls, jack o lanterns etc because it’s ecstasy’ nonsense. First off I did a bit of research on that and apparently ecstasy does come in coloured pill form but that’s where the similarity starts and ends. People who buy that stuff to get high off of it aren’t going to be handing out their dope to kids at Halloween. Really. If you wanted to get high, were a stoner or a drug addict would you really hand out your stash to kids you don’t know to take to their house, ingest and get high? It’s all just ridiculous nonsense designed to install an unfounded fear in parents and mostly the ‘stranger danger’ set of them.

  36. that mum October 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

    lollipoplover that is brilliant! old spinach box you say? gotta try that. I currently buy hot pepper chocolate to keep the kids out of it. 🙂

  37. Patrick October 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    I always find it so funny that every Halloween my sister panics about her two kids getting sick due to either overeating candy or eating rotten sweets. The town she lives in always promotes candy safety, but this year, my sister has the secret weapon…the NoMo Nausea Band. She found out about the all-natural product while shopping at her local CVS, and it honestly has saved her butt so many times. My nephew gets sick very often due to his eating habits, but using the NoMo Nausea Band, his nausea was relieved in 60 seconds, and there are no pills required (he hates trying to take any sort of medication). My sister feels so happy to have found this product and wants to scream it to the world. I know parents always deal with some sort of crazy with Trick or Treating, and maybe this can help prevent this inevitable Halloween “freak out”. Plus, what kids don’t love fun bracelets?

  38. Beth October 16, 2017 at 9:03 am #

    “The fact is food’s not simply fuel, and like it or not, Halloween and candy are part of the very fabric of North American culture, and so to suggest that kids shouldn’t enjoy candy on Halloween isn’t an approach I would support.”

    So true. From http://www.weightymatters.ca/2017/10/my-kids-go-trick-or-treating-yours.html