Good article in the Dining section of The New York Times today on the bad rep candy gets, just in time for Halloween. Nutrition experts and a Brooklyn-based, sweets-obsessed academic with a blog called Candy Professor weigh in and, the good news is, candy just has an image problem. It’s not pure evil.
(Relief! Excuse me while I grab another Fun-Size Snickers….)
OK, so anyway.
Samira Kawash, the blogger behind Candy Professor, studies the relationship Americans have with candy and why we view it as so bad and different from other sweet foods. (Amusing anecdote about a Brooklyn parent who equates it to giving a kid crack cocaine included.) But she says candy is what it is — “a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit.” And she and others in the piece point out that we eat and feed our kids all sorts of other, sugar-packed foods — like granola bars and fruit juice. They may be perceived as healthier, but many contain comparable amounts of sugar.
A nutrition professor at the University of Vermont notes that “Nutritionally there is littler difference between a gummy bear and a bite of fruit leather.” (I’ll remember that the next time I reach for one to give the kids.)
So, yes, candy is processed, and no, it’s not “good for you” — and then there is the whole corn syrup thing…. But maybe a *little* candy at Halloween isn’t the absolute end of the world.
And of course we can teach our kids about which foods are nutritious. And that not all candies have to be mass-produced or made with crappy ingredients. Witness Jennifer King of Brooklyn’s Liddabit Sweets, a small local candy maker. She uses premium ingredients that are often local, too.
The honey in her honeycomb candy is gathered from hives in New York City. I have eaten it, and I can tell you it is delicious. I can also tell you that they sell it at Bklyn Larder. So maybe make a special trip there this weekend and let your kids taste the difference between goodies that come from a giant plastic bag on sale at the drugstore and those that were made sweet by local bees.
That said, look for us out there this weekend, sporting costumes and on the dole for all of the Twizzlers, Mike & Ike’s, and mini bags of M&Ms we can find. We won’t eat them all, but half the fun is in the hunt.