By Riki Shore
I didn’t love chocolate bars or hard candy when I was a kid, but every Halloween I loved eating these. I kind of still do.
These were first made in the 1880s, by hand, using a cornstarch mold. They used to come around only at Halloween, but now there are specially colored versions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s and , yes, even Easter. Apparently, the powers that be want us to eat these all year round.
But mineral oil and carnauba wax? Why would I want to eat those? And check out the list of artificial colors. Eight altogether! That might be a record. And the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list the artificial flavoring agents.
I bet you can guess what this is.
Natural and Artificial Flavors
Artificial Colors, (FDC Yellow 6 Lake, Red #40, Red 40 Lake, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue 1 Lake, Blue #1, Yellow 5 Lake)
Mineral oil is derived from petroleum and has many applications. Confectioners use it to prevent moisture from seeping into their candy, to provide a glossy finish to the candy, and to prevent pieces of candy from sticking to one another. Although it’s approved for these uses by the FDA, the International Association for Research on Cancer classifies mineral oil as a Group 1 carcinogen to humans.
Carnauba is the wax of the leaves of a specific palm tree that grows only in Northeastern Brazil. The wax is extracted after the leaves are collected and beaten. There are so many uses for this wax it’ll make your head spin. It’s used as a car wax, surfboard wax, furniture polish, dental floss, instrument polish, lipstick thickener and paper coating. In food, it’s often added to sweets to provide a smooth glossy finish.
It’s important to remember that, even without these additives, candy is still candy, and sugar – even when it’s touted as “natural” – is still sugar. None of it is good for you. I suggest enjoying Halloween night, then purging your house of all candy, even the natural, gluten-free stuff.
Do you feel like I’m raining on the Halloween parade? Fear not, I’ll be eating at least one piece of candy from my daughter’s treat bag this year, and it may even be a yellow, white and orange corn kernel.