More tricks than treats; Halloween candy holds scary ingredients


Candy stocks shelves at 116th Street Kroger in preparation for Halloween. Photo by Taylor Wagner.

According to the National Retail Federation, $2.6 million is spent on Halloween candy each year in America. In addition, 10 percent of the candy industry’s annual sales occur just before Halloween.

Many people have a favorite candy they like to indulge in during this spooky holiday. One of these is candy corn, which consumers buy 20 million pounds of each Halloween. Snickers and Kit-Kats follow just behind, according to US Today. In Indiana specifically, Reese’s Pieces is the top selling candy during Halloween.

This may all be sweet, but there are some tricks up the sleeve of these candies. Many treats are loaded with sugar, colored dye, additives and preservatives. One of the many ingredients found in candy is Carmine, usually labeled as ‘red dye’ and made by boiling and crushing beetles to make a hard coating on the outside of candies such as Nerds.

Tertiary butylhydroquinone (THBHQ) is a petroleum-derived form of butane. This chemical can be found in Butterfingers and lighter fluid. This is used as a preservative to make the chocolate to keep its form around the inside of the candy.

All of these spooky ingredients may lead consumers to look for natural ingredients, but according to FDA guidelines, natural ingredients are anything derived from animals or plants, like Castoreum.

Castoreum is a flavoring commonly found in vanilla or berry flavored candy. It is derived from beaver urine and mixed with other ingredients to create a sweet berry flavor.

Most candies also contain a scary long list of ingredients. Twizzlers have 20, Skittles have 19 and Kit-Kats have 15. One of the main ingredients is a chocolate emulisfier which takes place of coca powder and butter when making chocolate.

So when looking for a sweet treat this Halloween, know that there might be something a little spooky in it.