On the first Halloween I can remember, I ate Butterfingers and Hot Tamales until I was sick. But times have changed—cavities have ensued, childhood obesity rates have jumped to 17%, and Americans aren't going quite as all-out on the annual sugar fest as we once did.
Americans are still expected to spend an estimated $2.1 billion on Halloween candy this year. But as Reuters reports, data from the National Confectioners Association shows that nearly a quarter of Americans report buying more nutritious Halloween candy now than they did five years ago—things like dark chocolate, natural fruit chews, and granola bars. About a fifth say they are buying smaller-portioned treats too.
For the real health nuts out there, there are now options like Unreal Candy, a brand of non-GMO, fair trade, corn-soy-and-gluten-free chocolates featuring ingredients like cane sugar, quinoa, cocoa butter, and carrot, beets, or red cabbage juice (in lieu of food coloring). One "health freak" shopper told Reuters he opted for a $20 bucket of 40 Unreal chocolates on a recent trip to Whole Foods. He considered it a healthier option over more common, cheaper chocolate brands, and hopefully it won't bum kids out as much as the houses giving away raisins or toothbrushes on Halloween.
"We don't want to get eggs on the house," he told Reuters.
Plenty of other manufacturers have entered the healthy candy category as well. Xlear, a company originally known for saline nasal spray, now offers Sparx candies, made with xylitol—a lower calorie, tooth-friendly sweetener. And the Kosher food manufacturer Kayco now sells Chocolate Leather, which has less sugar than most fruit leathers and less fat than typical chocolate bars.
In general, candy costs are rising, but if you want to avoid breaking the bank while still offering tasty, healthy(ish) treats on Halloween, you can simply avoid candies that are pure sugar in favor of candy with actual food ingredients (like coconut, nuts, or chocolate). Just don't be that house giving out apples.