The last thing most costumed kids are considering on Halloween is healthy eating, but concerned parents don’t put aside all their rules when the candy holiday hits.
Nearly 80% of American parents said they have a plan in place to help their children exercise moderation while still enjoying the candy and treats they bring home on Halloween, according to a survey by the National Confectioner’s Association.
“Parents, including me, are embracing Halloween celebrations and traditions, but we’re also using the holiday as an opportunity to teach our children how to enjoy candy as a fun part of a balanced lifestyle,” NCA Executive Vice President Alison Bodor said in a news release.
About 90% of parents surveyed said they have talked to their children, or plan to talk to them, about the need for balance and moderation, 60% said they prefer to hand out the candy to the trick-or-treaters who come to their door rather than let the children decide how much to take, and 57% have a house rule that their own children’s Halloween candy must be shared, the survey said.
Candy sales this Halloween are on track to hit $2.6 billion, according to NCA data. The National Retail Federation’s estimate is a bit lower: 97.3% of consumers are expected to spend $2.1 billion on Halloween candy this year, according to an NRF survey, and 67.8% will hand out candy as part of their celebration of the holiday. Many stores put the Halloween goodies out on the shelves by Sept. 1 and 34.1% of consumers started shopping for candy and costumes before Oct. 1, according to the NRF survey.
In addition to monitoring for moderation, many parents also worry about dietary restrictions, food allergies and sensitivities. Eight foods are responsible for 90% of food allergic reactions in the US, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and wheat, all common ingredients found in many candies and treats.
Last year, FARE launched the Teal Pumpkin Project, urging adults to stock non-food treats such as glow bracelets, stickers and bubbles in addition to candy, for kids whose allergies threaten to keep them from enjoying the holiday.
Still, 70% of Americans say the holiday is meant for enjoying candy, according to the NCA survey, and children with allergies may have to be more careful, but they don’t have to settle for a Halloween without sweets.
Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board offers a long list of peanut- and tree-nut-free candies, from Amanda’s Own Sunbutter Cups to Zours. Sure Food Living goes further, with an extensive annual Halloween guide of treats safe for kids with food allergies, gluten intolerances and celiac disease. And for parents and children who opt to avoid animal products, PETA has a list of 25 vegan candies for Halloween.
For parents of all kids, whether or not they have special dietary needs, NCA offers a list of tips to teach and promote moderation. Tips include: including kids in the planning of how the family will practice moderation when it comes to Halloween candy and using the holiday as an opportunity to teach balance by stressing the need for a nutritious diet and exercise as well as occasional treats.
If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s email list for more stories about the food and beverage industry. We offer 14 newsletters covering the industry from restaurants to food manufacturing.