Halloween has always been a constantly changing holiday throughout our lifetime. What we decide to wear as a costume drastically changes, and our plans go from asking strangers for candy to asking strangers to buy us drinks! One thing that has always stayed the same is that the candy is always the best part! Not only is the candy delicious, but the pumpkin flavored treats that come around every year are amazing as well.
But, just like all processed foods, there’s a lot of disturbing secrets that you might not know about the candy you’re eating. Some things contain ingredients that make your stomach turn, and others are made by processes that can be life threatening to some! But of course, if we knew all of this, no way would we spend millions of dollars a year on our favorite candies!
In no way are we suggesting you give up your favorite Halloween treats, but once we find out unsettling information about the things we love to shove in our faces, it’s our duty to inform! The safest bet to avoid all of these disturbing truths about your favorite candy is to simply read the packaging and opt for something else. Or, if you’re anything like us, you simply won’t really care and will continue to eat an entire bag of fun-size candy bars while watching your favorite horror movie.
With that being said, here are 15 disturbing things you probably didn’t know about your favorite Halloween candy. Share with your friends to let them know the real horrors on Halloween!
15. Shiny Candy Has Insect Secretions All Over It
When we say “shiny candy” we mean candy that has a coating over it, like skittles, candy corn, and other hard candies with a shell. What might give these candies their glistening appearance? Beetle juice. Don’t say it three times! The shiny substance that covers your tasty sweets is a resin that is secreted by the lac bug. Not only is it found on the coating of your candies, but it can even be put on your fruits and veggies – even the organic ones!
To avoid eating the waxy bug juice on your fruits and veggies, simply scrub off the skin and outer layer. No one wants to bob for apples coated in bug guts! But if you’re worried about eating candy covered in the stuff, you’ll have to find sweets that simply don’t contain the substance.
The most common candies to have the shellac are jelly beans, candy corn, and some Hershey’s chocolates. A lot of name brand candies are shying away from the gross stuff, like Skittles and M&Ms. But they have other substances to worry about.
14. Red Candy Is Made From Crushed Bugs
Sometimes the best kind of candy to eat is the kind that looks like gross and creepy. But in order to get the right colors and look of a specific food, you have to get creative. One thing that candy creators discovered they could use for the best red colored foods is crushed beetles. As if the beetle juice in our shiny candy wasn’t enough, now we know that any candy that might be red may contain carmine: crushed cochineal insects (pictured above).
The dye is a “natural” substance that people use in their food in replacement of other chemicals. The crushed bugs are likely found in pretty much every red colored candy and other substances such as makeup and nail polish. There’s a good chance you’ll be smearing and consuming beetles in and on your body Halloween night.
13. Candy Corn Can Affect Your Memory
Candy corn is probably one of the favorite Halloween candies there are. Everyone loves candy corn flavored candies, things that look like candy corn, and the different variations there are of the corn. Who even eats candy corn any time other than October? But there’s been studies to show some disturbing information about the Halloween essential- it can mess with your memory.
Candy corn contains high levels of high fructose corn syrup. When consuming a large amount of this, it can cause brain inflammation and disturb the part of your brain responsible for memory. The most disturbing part is that it can especially be harmful to adolescents! Good news if you hate candy corn, but not so much if it’s your favorite. But consuming large quantities of anything is never good for you, so as long as you aren’t overdoing it, you should be fine. There’s a different substance that affects memory that adults use more during Halloween night, if you know what we mean!
12. Artificial Dye Might Cause ADHD
In order to get cool colors in candy like we recently discussed, candy creators are willing to go pretty far to achieve the perfect hue. Some makers decide to use things other than beetles, which results in small substances of harmful chemicals potentially making their way into your candy. Scientists are still conducting tests and there is no proven answer one way or another, but research has shown that foods and sugary treats that contain high levels of food dye might be responsible for giving kids ADHD.
They conducted studies that involved giving kids sodas with multiple dyes and monitoring their behavior. They found that kids would often act out more after taking in the substance. While there is still no steady answer to this, it is still a little unsettling thinking about how all the candy kids eat on Halloween may be affecting their behavior. Maybe it’s best to eat the beetle filled candies for now until we know for sure.
11. Bags Of Candy Have 10,000+ Calories
The scariest part about Halloween can be all the indulgences we find ourselves in. Once the holiday season starts, it seems more and more homes and businesses decide to put out bowls of candy. And then on Halloween night, kids get the chance to get more free candy from strangers and fill bag after bag full of tooth-rotting treats. The scariest part? The average Halloween bag of candy that kids fill on October 31st is estimated to contain around 10,000 calories!
Some kids like to indulge in a huge amount of that candy on that night, and find their bags quickly vanishing within a week! But remember that even though it’s fun-size, candy is still candy and can add up pretty quickly! But perhaps after finishing the list, you won’t have a problem eating sugary treats in moderation anymore.
10. Peanut Butter Has Rodent Hair
Peanut butter isn’t a food specific to Halloween, but during a time when you’re celebrating a holiday all about the sweets, there’s a good chance you’re consuming a bit more of all sugary treats. It’s worth noting that peanut butter is one food that has been known to contain a large amount of rodent hair as well as insect parts. Yikes!
At this point on the list, you’ve probably accepted the fact that you’ve eaten a ton of bugs by now. But rat hair! That is truly devilish. The even scarier part? The FDA approves of it! They basically say that there’s really no way to ensure that at least one rat hair won’t make its way into our food at some point, and as long as companies are doing their best to prevent it, a little rat hair and crushed bugs won’t kill us. Are they sure about that? Next time you bite into a delicious sweet and see a hair, there’s a good chance it’s not just your pet’s.
9. Most Candy Has Crushed Bones
In ancient times, people used to believe that you should use every part of the animal. Meat would be used for eating, skins for clothing, and bones for building and sometimes as weapons. Well, it seems that that’s a theory that we still adopt today with the use of our animals. You don’t see people building with bones that often, but there’s another sneaky way we’re getting the most use out of this animal part: bone char.
Bone char is the bones of cattle ground and boiled down into a powder used in the process of sugar to give it its white color. That means it’s also often found in candy as well. When buying white sugar at the store to include in your Halloween treats, there’s a good chance it contains bone char. Bone char is also often used in sodas, even the most popular ones like Coca Cola products. The best way to avoid eating animal bones is to opt for organic or vegan candies and sodas.
8. Butterfinger Has Lighter Fluid In It
Just to be clear, no one is pouring lighter fluid directly into a tub full of the ingredients to make Butterfinger bars. But when you break down the long list of ingredients in the candy bar, you’ll find TBHQ. TBHQ stands for Tertiary Butyl hydroquinone, a byproduct of butane, the main substance in lighter fluid. The chemical is found in candies such as Butterfinger and Reese’s Cups. You’ll also find most fast food products contain the substance in some form or another as well.
TBHQ is used so commonly because of its preservation qualities, which makes sense that it’s in a lot of fast foods. This substance can be toxic in high quantities and is also known for causing learning disabilities and cancer during studies conducted on rats! A ton of candies are opting for options other than using TBHQ, so luckily it isn’t found as often in candies as some other things on the list. But it never hurts to check the ingredients.
7. Cotton Candy Was Invented By A Dentist
Cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison. A couple years later, a different dentist, Joseph Lascaux, invented a better cotton candy machine. It seems a little fishy that two dentists would want to give consumers something made out of 99% sugar! But if their intentions were devilish, they were smart as well, as they probably had a boost in customers once the candy was introduced.
If you know anything about vertical integration, it really makes you think of what other products might be made just to take the money out of our pockets. Vertical integration refers to the process of a company being involved in two or more stages of production. The best way to explain this is by stating that the dentists had a motive in making a tooth decaying material so as to profit from the candy as well as fixing all the cavities that are involved. It’s a wild theory, but definitely one to consider for all things Halloween this season.
6. Beaver Butts Flavor Some Fruity Candy
When reading the label of any product, there are a ton of words that we don’t know. But who really cares, it’s probably just a chemical right? Just like the ingredient Castoreum, an ingredient found most commonly in vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry flavored treats. Castoreum is a product most commonly used for scent purposes in things like perfume. But many yogurt and ice cream companies, and other manufacturers of sugary sweets found that the product is great in holding or replacing vanilla flavored items.
Castoreum is actually a gooey brown secretion that comes from the anal glands of beavers! The scariest part is that it’s considered FDA approved, so a lot of companies won’t tell you they’re using castoreum in their foods, and rather just put “natural flavoring” on the label. But before you freak out, just know that castoreum has become a rather difficult and expensive substance to retrieve, so many companies instead choose to use other natural or artificial flavoring.
5. Some Candy Uses Coal
Coal is supposed to be a Christmas present for bad kids, but it seems as though it can be a Halloween treat for people of all sorts. Coal tar is most often found to pave our streets, and that seems pretty normal. But unfortunately, it’s used in a lot of colored candies as well. Coal tar is so often used in processed foods because it gives them a bright yellow color. The ingredient you’ll see it labeled as in your foods is Tatrazine or yellow dye #5.
Even though many vegan candies won’t contain gross smashed bugs or beaver butts, there’s still a chance they’ll have a bit of this coal tar in them. It’s most commonly found in Butterfinger, Starburst, Smarties, boxed mac and cheese, Mountain Dew, and many other foods that might use yellow dye. If candy didn’t contain all of these bugs and other weird ingredients, however, we’d all just be eating clear colored balls of sugar.
4. Gum Has Sheep Sweat In It
Ever chew a piece of gum and get a hair in it? If you have, you know that piece is totally ruined, as it’s hard to get the hair out of the sticky substance. But from now on when that happens, don’t worry too much, as your gum likely already contains hair! The actual hair won’t likely be in it, however lanolin is an ingredient in many chewing gums.
Lanolin is also found in a ton of skin care products, as it is a softening agent. It’s also known as being the oily substance secreted in sheep’s wool. I’m fine with wearing wool, but chewing it? Another freaky thing to consider is that a lot of farmed sheep might come in contact with pesticides or other chemicals that might show up in their hair, which means we’re just chomping away at it all. Chew on that, if you can handle it.
3. Most Chocolate Is Made From Slave Labor
If you are aware of where your products come from at any level, you must know that everything we buy and consume has some level of unethical production to it. But a lot of companies are at least trying their best to pay foreign workers what they deserve, and slave labor isn’t as widely used in the production of our clothing and electronics as it used to be. Chocolate is one industry that still profits off the back of laborers who aren’t getting paid or are getting paid the absolute minimum.
The chocolate industry is a rather complex one. It starts with the production of the cocoa bean, a crop commonly found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The farms that produce the cocoa bean are the ones who are usually in violation of human rights, often using child labor and slave workers on the farm. They are a very secretive business, and the countries that this happens in don’t have many laws protecting the rights of these individuals.
But companies like Hershey, Nestle, and Mars still buy their cocoa beans from them and for disgustingly low prices. These farmers can sometimes earn less than $2 a day, so slavery is their only option. Next time you’re complaining about your $2 candy bar, just remember it could be $10 but slave labor helps keep the price low!
2. Some Sweets Contain Human Hair
By now, you’ve probably come to terms with the fact that you’ve eaten smashed beetles, beetle juice, rat hair, and beaver butt juice at some point in your life. But human hair is an entirely new fact to stomach-literally. Unfortunately, the gorgeous locks of rats aren’t the only form of protein you might be finding in your candies this Halloween.
L-Cysteine is an amino acid contained in many foods for its preservation qualities. It’s most commonly found in bread products, so if you celebrate El Dia De Los Muertos, you know how important bread can be! Don’t panic, about 80 percent of L-Cysteine comes from duck feathers instead of human hair.
That’s still pretty disturbing, but many people would probably rather eat a feather than a lock of hair. Especially knowing that the hair most commonly comes from the floors of Chinese hair salons. The best way to avoid eating any hair is to look for products that don’t contain the ingredient L-Cysteine, as no one puts “human hair” on the nutrition label.
1. It’s Destroying Our Rainforests
One industry that might be arguably worse than the cocoa industry is the production of palm oil. If you know anything about palm oil, you probably know that it’s in, like, everything. In one year alone, our country can consume up to 50 tons of palm oil. The resource is a great one, as it’s a renewable oil that is trans-fat free, inexpensive, and good for cooking. There is one grave issue with it, however- it only grows in tropical climates.
When you have a large demand for something but only a limited amount of space to grow it in, environmental issues arise. The more palm oil a company can produce, the more money it’ll make. This means a lot of rainforests are being cut down to make room for farms to produce a ton of palm oil. Luckily, many environmentalists are aware and concerned about the damages destroying rainforests for this purpose causes, so something is being done to stop this. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still candy companies using unethical practices to get palm oil.
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