Nicole Alderman wrote:
Yep, he seriously wants you to give him your candy.
... as for tree stumps, I'd like to know more, too!
Lol, should've clarified what I was inquiring about.. the candy in compost dealio! that seems weird to me... dale... you pullin our legs?
Actually, yeah. This one time in mining camp when we had three more months to go and were fifty walking miles from any hope of resupply, my mother took a five gallon metal can full of U.S. Army "survival candy" (basically sugar rock candy with a tiny bit of red and yellow food coloring) and melted it down with water and Mapleine artificial maple extract. We were eating a lot more pancakes than she had planned for and were running woefully short of syrup until she did that.
On the other hand:
Wondering if Halloween candy could be repurposed into something useful? Oddly enough I think the people that gave it to my kids thought it was food or something!
My advice would be to tread lightly with your children's candy. In my experience every child grows up with half a dozen things that they hold as grudges against their parents, grudges that they will still bitterly recount thirty, forty, and fifty years later. Fucking with a child's Halloween haul (especially taking the candy away or even substantially restricting its consumption) is highly likely to create one of those never-to-be-forgiven grudges, right up there with (to take an example that one of my sisters still hasn't let go of and probably won't this side of the grave) killing a beloved pet with a hatchet after it developed a taste for killing chickens.
As the saying goes, be nice to your kids, they'll be picking your nursing home.
Halloween Candy Buyback Program
Started by a dentist, years ago.
Yeah, I just had to speak up in a different vein, the "hey it's ok to take the candy", it's not good for them, neither is a long episode of control. Some parent of trick or treat aged children may be suffering this very minute over what to do about the coming deluge.
So, anyway, what did I do with all of it? I took it to work and left it in offices I did not frequent. I fed it to the chickens, I composted it. I used it for bait in mouse traps. We took it to the river, camped out, built a tower of tin post with the candy as raccoon bait. When the raccoons went for the candy, the pots fell, made a noise, woke us up and we got to see the raccoons....
Lots of fun things to do with it.
I guess you could try to give it to livestock. I'm not surprised that the butterfat content increased in the milk. That's what carbohydrates do to us, increase our blood triglycerides. And since milk is filtered out of the blood, higher blood fat would likely yield higher milk fat.
Anyway, it's a fun thread. Here are some silly ideas:
dissolve it or liquify it in a blender with water and ferment it to make fertilizer, or add to your compost tea brew. Try adding some of the liquid to the worm bin. Try pouring the sugary solution onto the soil where you want a bloom of soil bacteria, or make a much thicker paste and try it as a "weed" killer, either through too many bacteria eat all that sugar and die, and their little bodies release so much nitrogen it cooks the roothairs. Or as a thick and sticky mulch. Or that concentration of sugar provides a temporary osmotic pressure that dessicates plant material, especially fine roots and roothairs. Pretty tough on the fungi in the soil though.
All that sugary mess on the ground is going to feed something, ants will make holes in the ground for aeration and water penetration, all the bugs do something.
You could also take it to the nursing home, a local day care center, give it to families who don't think candy is detrimental to children's health. Make a care package and send it to someplace people are starving. You could flush it down the toilet... feed the septic tank organisms, or the organisms at the local sewage treatment plant.
I'm ready for someone else's ideas
Thekla McDaniels wrote:I find that whole blame your parents thing pretty shallow & tiresome.
I'm sorry you found it tiresome but I still think it's an issue parents are wise to consider. Obviously much depends on the individual relationships, one family is not like another. But kids really do value some things very differently than adults do, and they can form bitter resentments in response to arbitrary-seeming exercises of parental power. The age and level of understanding of the kids matters a lot too. Some kids are really good at internalizing parental values like health and diet, others just form a long mental list of "all the things my parents are insane about" and nurture resentment each time they are inconvenienced by one of the things Mom and Dad are nutty about (from the kid's perspective). Ultimately of course a parent gets to decide which battles are worth fighting and which long-term resentments are worth it; that's what parents do. But I'm pretty comfortable with suggesting that a parent remain mindful of the potential long-term emotional costs of their in-the-moment parenting decisions, especially when they involve rare events like a once-a-year holiday rather than daily decisions with a lot more cumulative impact.
Using it to smooth over people when you need service can make a big difference between great service and terrible service. Need to have an item replaced? Give them candy. Need to have your car fixed? Give them candy. Even if they don't eat candy, I'm sure they know someone who does. It can't hurt to try!
Thekla McDaniels wrote:I think the grudges are from the parental behavior that metes out doses of candy every day after school or as a reward, making this long lasting control issue about the candy.
While this thread is about alternative uses of candy, and not so much the philosophy of whether or not to give it to our children, I thought I would chime in to say that my parents were the sort that "meted out candy," and I never held a grudge against them for it. We would get something like 10 pieces of candy to eat the night of Halloween, and then the rest was left in our care, but we were only to eat one or two each night as our dessert. As dessert was a real rarity in our house, this was a real treat. It also taught us self-control and the benefits of saving for our future self. So, the "alternative use" of candy here I guess is to use it as dessert and as a way to entrust kids with resources and help them learn self control. You could also use it to teach lessons about the different ingredients in the candies/chocolates so that they could make an informed choice (or to help them understand your choice) as to which ones to put in their bodies.
But, this is by no means the "best" or "right" way. There are so many ways to approach Halloween and candy dispersal, and I think it really depends on your own values, your children's personality, your relationship with them, etc. etc. etc. I'm really glad, John, that you brought this topic up. I'm learning a lot from the ideas and discussion here!
Back on topic, to those of you who feed them to your livestock, does the GMO and weird chemicals in some of the candy and chocolate, etc. come into consideration as to which candies you feed to which livestock. Would it be better to feed the "worse" candies to the meat animals or the dairy animals in terms of "contaminating" the meat/dairy?
Dan Boone wrote:
Thekla McDaniels wrote:I find that whole blame your parents thing pretty shallow & tiresome.
... they can form bitter resentments in response to arbitrary-seeming exercises of parental power...
That sounds more like resenting an authoritarian parenting style, rather than it actually being about candy.
Explaining the problem and your reasoning, giving kids an alternative option, asking them for suggestions or their preference on solutions, and/or letting them participate in the decision-making process goes a LONG way in preventing resentment of parental decisions. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, it might be appropriate to allow them to experience the negative consequences of a sugar binge... just be sure to help them form the connections between the sugar high, the crash, and the hangover. If you homeschool, it could be a great time for a lesson about the human body/metabolism (depending upon age).
I've heard of some parents making special treats (can be non-food) which their kids can "buy" with their collected halloween candy... as the parent, you can set the "price" based on how much they collect (amount of walking) and how much of whatever treat is healthfully-appropriate (if food-based).
If the only thing your child resents you for, once grown, is restricting candy in a way they didn't understand or agree with: you're probably not doing too bad of a job. (From the perspective of an adult who felt resentment as a kid for having my "hard-earned" halloween candy pillaged by my parents' sweet tooths prior to being allowed to sample any - a wholly different motive than any health-related ones)
Children are whole people: treating them as such, by respecting their feelings and thoughts, will go a long way in easing or preventing long-term resentments. Pretty much all my resentments are based on my parents failure to treat me like a human being, or to provide appropriate care (i.e. healthful foods). Halloween candy, though? Nah, it's just candy. I still got to dress up and go out with friends, and that shared cultural experience is what holds long-term value for a lot of kids.
If you practice bokashi composting, you can:
Crush the candy and sprinkle it with the inoculated bran at your next bucket addition to give it an extra microbial boost. I've heard you can also get rid of green/blue mold in your bucket by adding sugar with extra bran and essentially overpowering the mold. Obviously, if this doesn't work because the mold was too established... dump it in your yard and start again with a clean bucket.
I was totally serious about using it for composting. Woody material rots fast when nitrogen, sugar and lime are added. Sugar feeds the bacteria.
Here's the full story of my dastardly deeds
From my blog:
If you ever saw the movie Elf, you know that Santa’s elves live on candy. “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup,” Buddy the Elf explains.
Don’t you think Santa’s kitchen must run low on supplies before Christmas Eve?
Not if the Candy Fairy can help it. She’s a sister of the Tooth Fairy, and she works for Santa Claus.
If, and only if, your parents are well connected, she will come to your house while you sleep on Halloween night – if you can sleep after eating all that sugar – and in exchange for a BIG pile of candy, she’ll leave you an early Christmas present from Santa’s workshop.
She’ll let you keep your favourites – maybe you want to keep the chips and the chocolate bars. You decide. She’ll take the rest and leave you a cool toy.
Ask your parents if they know the Candy Fairy.
Of course, that doesn't answer the question of what to do with it if the Candy Fairy doesn't show up and take it away.
Something like these:
I really liked Julia's Halloween candy buy-back idea. http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/about.html
And I might extend the "Swedish Fish Theory" to generalized packing material.
Loose candy fits well into any kind of box, especially care packages.
Speaking of sugar in composting - from what I've heard, sugars drive the first stage, the 'thermophilic', which is what heats things up to kill weed seeds and pathogens.
There is a weed-killing by compost method:
Weed-whack or stomp down the weed patch a little bit. If you have extra weedy material to get rid of (like gone-to-seed thistles, etc), lay it down a mulch layer in the sacrifice zone.
Then you combine
- corn gluten (or any grain, most likely, though corn gluten is apparently hot stuff in weed control),
- molasses (usually the cheap horse-feed kind),
- a black tarp over the whole thing.
The sugar and protein feeds the micro-beasties, and the whole thing gets hot enough to kill off weeds, weed seeds, new sprouts, and probably does terrible things to the more heat-sensitive soil beasties but that's life in the garden for you.
It was one of the more effective ways to deal with succulent weed rhizomes, like Himalaya blackberry or thistles; rotting the tips down seems to beat them back better than merely digging or cutting.
I have never comparison-tested it against a simple black tarp (which also kills weeds without all the other goop). But it did seem to work for our landlady, a master gardener who loved new tricks.
It seems like you could swap candy-soup for molasses, it would probably work pretty similar. Might be some mineral shortages in there, molasses has some good iron and other stuff beyond simple sugars. Maybe if you melted the candy down in a cast-iron kettle, and cleaned out the fridge and threw in any old condiments at the same time, it would probably work out pretty similar.
(You'd best dilute the sugar, since pure sugar is anti-microbial at high enough concentrations, hence the almost-infinite shelf life.
There is such a thing as fresh candy, and stale candy, but you will be hard-pressed to convince a child that any candy is INEDIBLE candy.)
I have also heard of industrial feed-lots experimenting with fattening cattle on candy mixed with shredded cardboard.
I shudder to think what that does to the animals, but apparently it was effective enough that the feed lot managers would buy cheap bulk loads of stale candy.
My dog won't eat it (as well he shouldn't). Our organic-minded pig-raising neighbor would feed most leftover foods I brought over, but she drew the line at my brick-hard 6-year-old box of fondant frosting. It's basically sugar plastic, or cement, with a little bit of oil and glycerine. She couldn't see how they'd manage to eat it without doing themselves harm (possibly by swallowing it whole, or breaking a tooth, while fighting over it). Later I found it dissolved well enough in a pail of hot water; I poured it over the compost.
When I stopped eating sugar myself, I became a 'candy conduit.' (I can't eat that, but it looks wonderful. Can I take one home for Ernie?)
I shared out a lot at work, gave it to friends around the same holidays, etc. Non-branded holiday candy is much easier to re-gift a few weeks on; I generally get assortments without the Halloween coloring when I do pick something up to give out.
Accepting the gesture seems more socially appropriate than declining outright - I don't like people to feel judged, or rejected, or even taken aback, or sorry (like it's their job to remember my diet).
There is a whole social participation aspect around cake and candy that's hard to substitute. Especially for kids.
Candy is a sort of 'currency of goodwill,' it's how we 'remember' birthdays and holidays. Sweet=Good, aye?
At least for children, who go through a LOT of carbs, and we were all children once.
But I bet it meant a lot more when sugar was rarer - and those special, individual gestures still mean more than the candy (if you remember my favorite song on my birthday, or help me make the most wicked-cool costume, who cares about candy?).
So what if you want to have all the fun of Halloween, but stem the tide of surplus sugar?
Nowadays I do enjoy substitute treats, but I wouldn't recommend most of them to impress young guests. Especially young guests who remember the "trick" part of the deal.
When I was a kid, home-made sugarless Halloween treats (like dried fruit and similar) usually failed to impress.
A good caramel-corn ball or candied apple was pretty good, but that's just sugar stretched farther with more work.
One thing I did like was these little Halloween 'gift vouchers' - books of little gift certificates for 50 cents or a dollar value, they might add up to a toy or ice-cream cone on your next trip to the local store. I think the stores sold them at a discount, or gave them away with big grocery orders as a promo.
I did enjoy silly toys, like those cheap plastic rings with spiders or skeletons on them, but there's only so many fingers to put them on. And what do you do with a bat-shaped craft puffball the day after?
A lot of well-intentioned neighbors clearly put a lot of work into disappointing 'treats' out of concern for our sugar-susceptibilities.
The best alternative we had was a big block party. This was my favorite neighborhood event of the year.
Pot-luck dinner at one house, first, and a bunch of Halloween activities at all the houses in sequence. Haunted Basement, bobbing for apples, the blindfold-guessing game ('eyeballs'=peeled grapes, 'worms'=wet Spaghetti, etc). Kid-version of spin the bottle, Twister, pin the tail on the monster, spiderweb 'maze', sometimes making treats ourselves (caramel corn balls, candied apples, little decoration thingies).
In hindsight, the active games kept us busy, and kept the sugar-per-kid down to a manageable level. We trick-or-treated between participating houses - but we'd easily spend 2-3 hours on two blocks.
By the time the party was done, we might go one or two more blocks, if we had the energy. But just hitting up houses for candy was the anti-climax of the evening.
We always came home to gleefully sort our shiny loot in a pail or bag - but it might be a pound or two, an inch or so of candy at the bottom of a grocery sack. We were encouraged to make it last, and it usually lasted a week (3 days for my impulsive younger siblings, one week for me, two weeks or more for my thriftiest sister.)
I think any fun, spooky activity could be used to fill out the evening a bit. A trip to visit the family grave plot (with a couple trick-or-treat stops at friends' houses along the drive, to show off costumes). Or firelight stories, or carving the jack-o-lanterns on the day itself, or any other really fun/spooky activity. As long as some trick-or-treating still happens, early enough in the evening to have good choices, then the alternative activities become an upgrade, not a deprivation.
Kids can easily learn to appreciate quality over quantity.
(with the possible exception of Dale... https://permies.com/t/10925/Halloween-Bankers-Commodity-Traders-commical#508836 - who fully appreciated the riches of quantity as a quality all its own.)
If you do have a family member who (like me) can't tolerate that much sugar, and you want some decadent substitutes:
'Pearamel' (dried pears, at the right stage of ripeness they make an amazing sticky treat that's great with pecans).
Try swapping pears and dates for the sugar and corn syrup in a good pecan-pie recipe.
I've also made oatmeal-raisin cookies pretty successfully, swapping in banana and dates for the sugars.
Fruit-butters can be made with fruit juice or fruit-juice concentrates and no added sugar, and they go great with a mild sweet cheese like Mascarpone, cream cheese, or Ricotta.
I make ice cream now with cream and fruit juice concentrates - poach some fruit in alcohol or cinnamon-butter (using fancy non-bitter cinnamon powder, Vietnamese or Ceylon cinnamon) for chewy chunks.
Jell-O can be made with fruit juice and gelatin - use a juice concentrate for more intense flavor. I want to try making a fruit-juice-based Turkish delight eventually; not sure what to dust it with instead of powdered sugar.
Stevia has a kinda nasty aftertaste in some things, but it goes pretty well with cinnamon and lemon. Stevia-sweetened cream cheese makes a low-sugar carrot-cake or cinnamon muffin into a 'real' cake.
Real deluxe cinnamon (the thinner-barked kind) and real licorice are sweet, and can be used to sweeten other things without the blood-sugar swings.
There's a lot of fun to be had in the prep stages, if you are into cooking with kids - for example, trying to find the 'perfect' spice for a new fruit. Apples=cinnamon, pears=allspice, peaches=nutmeg, apricots=lemon, blueberry=nutmeg or lemon zest, strawberries=nutmeg or vanilla, citrus=cardamom or anise.
But what about mulberry? It turns out if you put black pepper with it, it tastes weirdly like peanut butter (sort of brownish).
Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, they're OK but not impressive. But cardamom works pretty good, especially with a little lemon or lemon zest.
You make your fruit puree, and then you put a wheel of little dollops on a plate, and sprinkle a different spice on each one. Or make your no-sugar cookies with different 'chunks.' There's something about personally deciding which is 'the best one' that makes it all the more satisfying to eat the main batch, after.
Birthday cake substitutes are harder than candy, because it's a whole ritual. My in-laws have discovered that I like Boursin cheese wheels and fancy crackers. My mom gives me unsweetened chocolate and adult beverages.
My dad likes adult beverages as far as they go, but you can't stick a candle on it... he extended himself one memorable birthday visit on short notice, to experiment with candle-ready stevia-sweetened chocolate frosting on saltine crackers.
Which is a treat only a sugar-free daughter could love.
(Kinda like candy-covered pretzels, actually; I did like it, but it's not something to serve at a party for anyone 'normal'.)
It is an unpopular stand I know, but I don't think we have to bargain with children, to make sure they don't do things that don't support their health. I think it is the job of grown ups to make the hard choices for them and be clear that is what we are doing, because it is our responsibility to get them safely through childhood with the healthiest possible bodies, bodies that have to last them the rest of their lives. And it is our job for us grown ups to be ok with the fact that they don't like it. I think they develop confidence in their ability to handle disappointment and live through difficult times. Those are important skills.
A familiar phrase to my children (and they repeat it now without any rancor) "I did not ask you to like it, I asked you to do it." There were several versions of this. It could also come as "Show me you want to do this again". In the case of trick or treating, if they made a fuss over the disappearance of the candy, then next year there would be no evening out in costumes with friends. In the case of getting out of Grandma's swimming pool when I said it was time to go (time for me to get started making dinner), if they did not get out and get dried off, then we would not come on a hot afternoon to cool off again any time soon. I was a single mom, and we needed them to cooperate with me, to make my job of taking good care of them doable. They did not go off to another house for half the week. They were with me all the time.
When we went trick or treating, they could eat what ever they wanted while we were out for the evening. They knew that was it. They would not have access to the rest of it. We enjoyed the outing and there were not questions asked about the fate of the candy. (The candy bowl at work, in an office where I did not work, the dump... just get it out of the hose, out of our lives.)
My children have thanked me for this. They have thanked me for their healthy bodies. They have thanked me for not allowing them that awful anti acne medication that now has a class action suit against the manufacturer for lasting debilitating side effects. (Acne is not life threatening, it is inconvenient. That's a good distinction from them to understand too). They have thanked me for taking seriously my responsibility to them to be a confident leader.
Erica Wisner wrote:
"I want to try making a fruit-juice-based Turkish delight eventually; not sure what to dust it with instead of powdered sugar."
depending on the flavour you can use: cocoa powder, nut meal, finely ground coconut, edible flowers (grind in spice mill), or edible rice paper. you could make an unsweet cookie/graham cracker and pulverize that and use the crumbs. you could also coat them with 90 or 100% cacao chocolate. any of these also work for truffles and other sticky little items which are rolled in sugar to keep them separate.
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