The Weird Ingredients in Halloween Candy (and Which Ones to Avoid)

Turn over any candy bar wrapper, and the ingredient list may be more frightening than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Learn what’s lurking in those candy aisle classics and if they’re a cause for concern.
What's REALLY in Halloween Candy?
These days, there’s more to a candy bar than simply chocolate. With a laundry list of ingredients, it’s hard to know which ones aren’t the best to ingest, and why they’re there even in our candy bars in the first place. So we’ve peeled back the wrapper to uncover which ingredients are harmless, and which should go straight from the trick-or-treat bag to the trash.

What Is This In My Candy Bar?!

From the weirdly named additives to surprising ingredients and ominous oils, here are some ingredients in candy that will freak us out even when Halloween is over:

Safe

Caution

  • Artificial flavors. Adding some flava flav to foods can make them taste more appetizing (Butterfingers, anyone?). The studies of artificial flavors (not to be confused with artificial coloring!) are few and far between, but the Center For Science in the Public Interest says artificial flavoring is probably safe.  
     
  • Milk fat. We’re talkin’ more than just whole milk, here. Milk fat is the main component of cream, and is composed of triglycerides, a type of fat that may thicken the artery walls and increase cardiovascular risk Triglycerides and HDL Cholesterol. Bitzur R., Cohen, H., Kamari, Y., et al. Diabetes Care, 2009 November; 32(Supplement_2): S373–S377.. The bad news is that milk fat is found in most chocolate candies, including Snickers and Milky Way bars, so look for bars lower in saturated fat.
     
  • Salt. Yep, it’s not just in the savory stuff. Salt is often added to candy bars to offset all the sugar and corn syrup. And we definitely don’t need any more of the salt: Most Americans consume more sodium than recommended (2,300 mg) which can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart disease.

Avoid

Have a Healthier Halloween

Don’t fret! These sneaky ingredients don’t have to take all the fun (and flavor) from Halloween. Check out these tips for a healthier Halloween, no creepy ingredients included.

  • Choose better. Okay, there’s no denying a least a few pieces of candy on Halloween. So while we’re at it, let’s pick some better options, like dark chocolate Raisinetes, mini Hershey Special Dark bars, or a Twizzler or two. Or try low fat popcorn and pretzels for some crunch!
     
  • Make your own. Ditch the wrapper and make candy from scratch. Try some classics like Snickers, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, or these vegan Kit Kats.  That way, you’ll have control over everything that goes into the mix!
     
  • Sharing is caring. Stuck with a whole bag of Halloween treats? Make sure to spread the love! Bring the bag into the office or share with friends, and allow yourself a bite-sized treat when that sweet tooth kicks in.
     
  • Get creative. The stomach can be satisfied on Halloween without going down the candy aisle. Sip on some spiced cider, munch on a caramel apple, or dip some sliced fruit in a creamy pumpkin dip. Just remember to eat regularly and not skip meals!
     
  • Give it away. Donate the extra goods to people around the world. Organizations like Operation Shoe Box and Operation Gratitude are great places to start.
     
  • Celebrate outside. Halloween isn’t just about the sweets. Focus the fun on other traditions, like hayrides, apple picking, or walking through a haunted house. We promise you won’t miss those Almond Joy’s.

This article has been read and approved by Greatist Experts Catherine Ulbricht and Lindsey Joe.

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