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Healthier Halloween Candy Choices

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018
What's lurking in your Halloween candy?
What's lurking in your Halloween candy?

Halloween is not just an American holiday, it is celebrated in different ways all over the world. While a big part of Halloween is dressing up and watching scary movies, the biggest aspect is trick-or-treating and the candy that comes with it. No matter where or how you are celebrating the holiday, there always tends to be ‘fun-size’ candy hanging around in oversized bowls. However, this candy is typically not very good for us. In order to enjoy Halloween with your friends and family, read on to find out what exactly those unpronounceable ingredients lurking in your candy really are and how to make better candy choices.

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While tricks and treats are a large part of Halloween, no one wants tricks in their treats and most of those tricks can be found on the ingredient label. From different types of sugar to preservatives, these ingredients are making something that is not particularly good for you even worse. By doing a little research and making smart choices, you can avoid spooky ingredients and keep your health on track while still joining in on the Halloween spirit.  While most of us don’t pay much attention to the ingredients list on our fun-sized treats, it is a good idea to find out what those cryptic ingredients really do, where they come from, and what impact they can have on your health.

To answer all those questions here is a quick overview of frequently used ingredients:

Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

This ingredient can be found in many chocolate bars and even some fast food. It is a petroleum-derived form of butane used to preserve food. It has been quite controversial as five grams could be deadly. In fact, it is not allowed to be more than 0.02 percent of the total oil or fat content of the food.1 Although it is very difficult to consume toxic levels of TBHQ in a single sitting, it is likely not something that you want in your body. 


Extracted from animal skin or bones, gelatin is used as a thickening agent. It is a common ingredient in gummy candies. Since it is made from animal products, it is not suitable for vegans.


Used to make shiny coating of candies such as jelly beans or candy-coated chocolate, shellac is made from secretions of a bug, which is why it is not suitable for vegans.

Polyglycerol Polyricionoleate (PGPR)

PGPR is included in one of Halloween's most popular candies: chocolate. Used as a chocolate emulsifier, PGPR is used in place of cocoa butter to lower cost to producers.2

Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier to keep things like chocolate, ice cream, and peanut butter smooth. In fact, soy lecithin is one of the most commonly used food additive, and while it is generally recognized as safe to consume there is some research out there that tells of adverse side effects.

Artificial Coloring

This ingredient is used in a variety of different candies, artificial coloring has been linked to cancer promotion when consumed in large quantities.3

Now that you have had a brief overview of some ingredients in your Halloween candy, you might wonder what is the best candy to enjoy this Halloween season. While it is difficult to avoid candy altogether on Halloween, taking care to look at the ingredients in your candy and avoiding those you do not recognize are great first steps. Check out some of our favorite choices for healthier candy choices this Halloween:

  1. Unreal Candy
    This company adapts famous candies and reinterprets them by switching unhealthy and artificial ingredients with a healthier option. Additionally, they include less sugar but more protein which makes them a great Halloween treat.
  2. YummyEarth Organic Lollipops
    These chemical free organic lollipops make a great treat for everyone with a sweet tooth. They avoid genetically modified sugar and use only natural ingredients for coloring and flavoring.
  3. Equal Exchange Chocolates
    By obtaining their raw chocolate from fair trade farms, they ensure a conscientious interaction with producers and farmers,  providing a chocolate that is not only healthy but makes sure that everybody in the production chain is making fair profits.
  4. Surf Sweets
    Surf Sweets produces a variety of different gummy candies, including vegan options. They are produced without the use of high fructose corn syrup, top ten allergens, and artificial ingredients used for flavoring and coloring.

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In addition to paying attention to what is in your candy, it is important to be mindful of the quantity you are consuming.  If you can’t enjoy Halloween without enjoying at least a little bit of your favorite candies, be conscious of not eating too much. Only eat two mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, and enjoy this Halloween classic with only 88 calories. In addition, there might be dark chocolate options which provide you with more antioxidants and less sugar such as Hershey’s special dark. Two miniature-sized bars are around 88 calories and contain 5.2 grams of fat. Kit Kat can be enjoyed in a two piece bar with 70 calories, 3.6 grams of fat and 9.2 grams of sugar. Thanks to the light wafer that is coated with chocolate, this Halloween candy is rather low in calories.

Not only quantity is important, but also thinking of Halloween in a healthier way. If you have enough time try something new and make your own candy or sweet treat. Try our apple punch or pumpkin nut muffins for a different kind of sweet treat. Share any extra candy with your family, friends, and colleagues or even donate it. There are many options to get rid of unneeded candy and it is not necessary to throw it away. Another option is to avoid trick-or-treating in favor of a Halloween party that offers healthier choices.

It is still possible to enjoy Halloween while trying to keep your health and weight on track. All it takes is a little research and making more careful, mindful choices.


  1. Klein, Sarah. "Gross Ingredients Lurking in your Halloween Candy." The Huffington Post., 31 oct. 2012. Web.
  2. "Crystal Clear Leadership in PGPR." Palsgaard. Palsgaard, n.d. Web. 
  3. Schwecherl, Laura. "The Weird Ingredients in Halloween Candy and Which Ones to Avoid)." Greatist. Greatist, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 
  4. Fitzpatrick, Kelly. "20 Healthier Halloween Candy Choices." Greatist. Greatist, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 



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