"Trick," say the Food Giants

History of Halloween

Leave it to the industrial food giants to turn what was once an ancient Celtic festival, a night of rituals to ward off the crop-killing spirits of winter, into Halloween, a commercial frenzy during which 25% of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased!

Before industrial food sweet-talked its way into a Halloween takeover, the "Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred." [1] People held sacrificial ceremonies around bonfires and burnt crops. Originally a time to honor the dead and prepare for dark days ahead, the traditions of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) were altered by the influence of other nations and religions.

Now, most of our knowledge of Halloween can be summed up in 3 words: "Trick or Treat?"

If it seems like a long time since anyone's actually foregone the treat and played a trick on an innocent, doe-eyed little Cinderella, take a look at the candy companies. The processed food industry deals exclusively in tricks, no treats!

Ingredients for a "Successful" Halloween

What are the ingredients for a successful Halloween? A pillowcase full of candy! And what are the ingredients inside that plastic-wrapped mountain? Let's see here...

  1. Candy Corn

    Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Honey, Soy Protein, Gelatin, Confectioner's Glaze, Dextrose, Artificial Flavor, Titanium Dioxide Color, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 3, Blue 1.

  2. Twizzlers, Strawberry Twists

    Corn Syrup, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Sugar, Cornstarch, Contains 2% or Less of: Palm Oil, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Mono- and Diglycerides, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Artificial Color (Red 40), Sulfur Dioxide, to Maintain Freshness, Mineral Oil, Soy Lecithin, Glycerin.

  3. Butterfinger

    Corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa, molasses, and less than 1% of dairy product solids, confectioner's corn flakes, nonfat milk, salt, soy lecithin, soybean oil, cornstarch, natural flavors, monoglycerides, tbhq and citric acid (to preserve freshness), annatto color

  4. Reese's Pieces

    Sugar, Partially Defatted Peanuts, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel and Soybean Oil), Reduced Minerals Whey (Milk), Dextrose, Contains 2% or Less of: Corn Syrup, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Color (Blue 1 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake), Carnauba Wax, Resinous Glaze, and Artificial Flavor.

Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so in each of the treats above, sugar (or its essential synonym corn syrup - or both) outweigh all other ingredients. We're thinkin' that's kind of a good thing, because many of the other ingredients are also suspected slow killers, like trans fats, food dyes, excess salt and highly processed animal products.

Maybe this candy feast is not so far off from it's Celtic roots. Perhaps it is still a symbolic burning of crops, a world in which the lines between living and dead are blurred... Was any ingredient in our Halloween candy ever alive?! The world may never know.

But it's Just One Day! Relaxation as Medicine, Right?

Absolutely! Forgive us for acting like the nutritional Grim Reaper, we're setting down the scythe now. 

As Julie often says, yoga means "to yolk" or "union." As we are always building our best selves, we search for the union between healthy and happy, and we find it in our own unique balance of the two.

At FRESH Med, our purpose in sharing this information is not to discourage you from participating in Halloween; Community relationships and celebrations are essential to our wellbeing! (Chocolate goes a long way, too).

Rather, our goal is to remind you to seek your balance after Halloween has come and gone, when pillowcases are still overflowing with candy and Twix are rapidly closing in on vegetables for the occupation of 50% of your plate at each meal.

Don't worry if you're having a surprisingly difficult time detaching from the leftover loot - According to Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss, that just means the food giants are doing their jobs:

If you're still feeling a little spooky after Halloween has come and gone, give us a call!

If you're still feeling a little spooky after Halloween has come and gone, give us a call!

For his #1 New York Times bestseller SALT SUGAR FAT: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Moss spoke to "300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers to C.E.O.’s [...] What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive."

At FRESH Med, we want to make it as easy as possible for our patients to avoid the attractive, tasty tricks and Go to Health, where deliciousness and vitality last longer than Willy Wonka's Everlasting Gobstopper. So if your diet starts to feel a little spooky... Contact us! Otherwise, have a Happy Halloween!