The Obligatory Halloween Candy? Maybe Not Quite as Obligatory as You Think

The piles of candy now on display in any big box store, drug store or supermarket you enter make it easy to think it’s the only thing to give to trick-or-treating kids. But believe it or don’t, about half of kids say they’d welcome non-candy treats.

“I think people should give out fun markers/crayons, stickers, pencils, and anything else they think kids will like,” said Hannah, 11. “They should do this because it prevents kids (somewhat) from becoming overweight and it lasts longer than candy.”

Latavia, 10, whose favorite candy is Laffy Taffy, suggested toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash.

Teeth were also on Olga’s mind. She has braces and can’t eat sticky, hard, nutty, or gooey candy. If she has Skittles, she said she has to suck on them. Here’s how Olga answered our question about whether more people should give out stuff other than candy: “YES!!!! YEEEESSSS!!! I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH I CAN ENFORCE THIS, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE that other stuff. I love people who appreciate that I have braces; :-). Whatever they give me, I’m thankful that it’s not candy.”

And about half of all parents come through, either giving out healthy or non-food treats, or offering a choice of candy or things like temporary tattoos and other small prizes.

This year, there’s another non-candy option, and it’s pretty awesome: a free video game.

Yes, you read that right.

PopCap has teamed up with the American Dental Association (ADA) to give away millions of copies of Plants vs. Zombies, more than a million free packs of game-inspired trading cards, and other themed items with tips on oral health. According to their press release, the swag features new characters created just for the campaign, as well as the game’s normal “fundead” icons.

The best part? The game coupons are being provided for free to parents and other adults who host trick-or-treating children on Halloween. The coupons are redeemable for the full PC/Mac edition of Plants vs. Zombies and can be downloaded from the Stop Zombie Mouth website.

“We usually buy and give away a small mountain of candy at Halloween,” said Liza Geonie of Northport, N.Y., who plays Plants vs. Zombies with her 5-year old son.

“Now we’ll be presenting trick-or-treaters with a choice: a piece of candy or a free video game. We feel great about giving kids a healthier option that’s a ton of fun, and we’re planning on buying MUCH less candy this year!”


Related: Parents’ tips for managing the Halloween haul

Top image by Scott Barlow, via Flickr

Published by The Verigin Dental Health Team

A humanistic, holistic dental practice in Northern California, providing integrative, biological, mercury-free dentistry

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