I think we can all agree that candy is the devil’s work.
Gooey, chewy and wrapped up like bite-sized birthday gifts in crackling, colorful paper, Halloween candy in particular is pure, crystallized kidnip. Don’t be fooled by whimsical names like Jolly Rancher and Laffy Taffy. The stuff’s as sinister as all get out.
It eats away at perfect little teeth. It makes for sticky doorknobs and chocolate-stained throw pillows. It adds girth to our nation’s alarming childhood obesity rate.
And I don’t care how many doctors insist there’s no link between sugar and hyperactivity; every mom knows a lone grape Tootsie Pop can whip an otherwise well-behaved preschooler into a tropical cyclone before the irresistible indigo wrapper even hits the floor.
That’s why we, in order to be good parents, must eat their candy before they do.
A good parent, you see, will allow her children to go out trick-or-treating. She will permit them to ransack the neighbors’ candy bowls, shove pudgy fistfuls of Skittles and Milk Duds into their plastic jack-o-lanterns, and haul the sugary booty home with their salivary glands frothing and sputtering.
She will indulge them with a wad of Bazooka. A roll of Smarties. Perhaps a Fun-Size Abba-Zaba, if she’s feeling jaunty.
A good parent will wait for her kids’ corn syrup high to subside, help them scrub the caramel from their molars and tuck them in their beds with a loving, “Sweet dreams, my little Halloween pumpkin.”
And then she will rob them blind.
Now before you go calling me names like Butterfinger burglar or Pay Day pilferer, which we will all regret, take a minute to think about your own childhood. Recall, if you will, digging around in your candy bucket the day after Halloween. You were sure you had a Charleston Chew in there somewhere.
And you did. Until your dad decided it was the ideal snack to complement the 11 o’clock news.
Don’t blame Dad. Blame the establishment, if you must, for creating a holiday that asks parents to stitch together, hunt down or shell out for all manner of ninja robes and princess gowns — then lets the munchkins reap the sweet rewards.
As the one who inevitably has to carry the lightsabers and fairy wings when the kids get tired of dragging them around — and the one who must pay the dental bills — I figure I’m entitled to at least a 30 percent cut of the haul. And since my son doesn’t tend to read my columns, I’ll tell you how I get it.
First there’s the old “Let me check it to make sure it’s safe” approach, but since nutjobs haven’t been poisoning Halloween candy lately (and I’m not complaining, certainly), this tactic may just scare your kids.
I like to sift through the evening’s take after my son has gone to bed, scouting for that rare 100 Grand bar and listening for the glorious rattle-thud of a mini-box of Whoppers. In desperation, during my son’s waking hours, I have resorted to sleight-of-hand tricks to pluck a pack of Starburst from the pile; I told him I was just clearing out the empty wrappers for him.
Be sure never to take the last of any specific kind of candy. Your kids have taken a mental inventory of what’s there, and if a Reese’s goes missing, they’ll know it.
If you lose control and consume every last Almond Joy while watching Jon Stewart one night, don’t panic. Transfer the rest of the sweets to a Ziploc bag “to help it stay fresh.” There’s something about seeing the stuff in a new container that trips up their M&M accounting system.
Remember: It’s not cruel to dip into your kids’ candies — it’s considerate of their health and well-being. This Halloween, when you see a tube of jewel-toned treats rolling around at the bottom of their buckets, dive in. It just may be a LifeSaver.