It’s October, which means suburban moms are now facing one of the most difficult decisions of the year. No, it’s not who to vote for, because if you haven’t figured that out yet, you’re not paying attention (see how I kept that open to interpretation? Non-political-lack-of-confrontational-phrasing FTW. That’s how you do it, Facebook).

No. The big important question pressing on our souls these days is “should I buy crap candy for Halloween, so I don’t eat it all, but then I’m *that* house—or do I buy good Halloween candy and invite temptation of mindless/endless candy snacking into my life every day… nay every hour (read: every minute)?

I’ve gone both ways. Some years, I do “healthy” treats or little toys or something. Other years I say, ‘screw it’ and I double up on good candy.

 Now More Than Ever, The Candy Matters

Given it’s 2020—and literally that’s all I need to say for you to understand my impending point—this Halloween feels more important than ever. If you’re in a community that hasn’t canceled trick-or-treating, the pressure is on.

My own kid is old (read: cynical) enough to enjoy Halloween just as a chance to get free candy, so if the social restrictions that come with COVID make Halloween a bit less of a celebration than usual, she’ll be fine.

But there are neighborhoods full of younger kids who are already disappointed with a lack of school parties, walk-through haunted houses, and apple bobbing. Okay, no one is disappointed by a lack of apple bobbing, but you get my gist. So, I not only want to get good candy this year, I’m considering getting the full-size bars. Then, I’ll be *that* house!

But this poses the question: What is “good” candy?

I like Choc-A-Lot

Clearly a highly subjective subject. My go-to “good” candy is and always will be chocolate. But the selection of chocolate options is mind-blowing. I’ve been in enough PTA meetings to know that “no nuts” is a pretty big deal, so that halves your options. The simple chocolates are usually the most universally loved—plain M&Ms, Hershey bars, Kisses.

Although adding in peanut butter, caramel, nougat, or other flavors can make chocolate even more delicious, with every additional flavor, you lose half your audience to kids who dislike that particular taste. As an added bonus, most plain chocolate is gluten-free, which is apparently also a big deal according to the PTA.

One thing to consider when choosing your candy: A lot of parents these days have their children donate all or some of their candy to teach good citizenship (read: to get it out of the dang house). Many of the popular places to donate post-Halloween candy don’t take chocolate due to the melting factor.

Thinking Outside the Bar

So, when it comes to non-chocolates, my go-to is gummy-bears. In general fruit candies don’t do it for me. Skittles, Starbursts, Smarties—mostly just meh. I despise licorice and don’t trust anyone who thinks differently. Sour candies are fun, but again, kids can have sensitive tastes so simple is usually better.

Unless you’re over 70 or have zero self-respect, you’ll stay the hell away from mints, candy corn, Werther’s, and anything with the word “Peep.” And do not even speak to me if you’ve even vaguely considered giving away Necco Wafers. They are the Body of Christ in candy form and your house will be (and deserves to be) egged. If you choose to go the non-chocolate route, one nice perk is many of the options keep on giving: Tootsie Pops, Blow Pops, Jawbreakers are fun, long-lasting treats.

Don’t Get Peachy

I’ll leave you with this story: When my mother was a child, she lived in Cuba for a few years. Her first Halloween there, she and her brother dressed up to go trick-or-treating, despite my grandmother warning her that Cubans don’t celebrate Halloween. They went to their neighbor’s house and were met with utter confusion. They finally got across the point that the homeowner was supposed to give them something sweet or she’d get a trick played on her, so she went to the kitchen and brought them each a can of peaches. And that ended Cuban Halloween.

So, even though this might be THE MOST IMPORTANT HALLOWEEN EVER, whatever you choose to do, it’s not canned peaches, and you’ll be great.Sidenote: given it’s 2020, I’m now rethinking giving candy at all. Maybe I’ll just give out canned wines. Seems appropriate.

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About Lily Winters

A full-time copywriter, Lilly Winters lives outside Washington, D.C. in a house full of animals—which include her husband and teenager. Under a different name, she’s written a book of short stories, a Young Adult novel, and was most recently published in Gravity Dancers. Lilly Winters isn’t posting her real picture because it’s possible she is currently wanted by the Mexican drug cartel. It’s also possible she watches too much Ozark.

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