13 Yucky Halloween Treats Kids Would Rather Toss Than Eat

Been there. Done that.

Been there. Done that.

Back when I was a kid, every year at Halloween I’d come home from my trip around the neighborhood and eagerly empty the booty I had plundered from my neighbors onto the kitchen table.

Most of it was the typical Halloween fare like the miniature candy bars. However, I’d also get a few unexpected items; some were really awesome Halloween treats. Others were not.

One year I even got a rock in my bag — just like Charlie Brown. I’m not kidding. I just wish I knew who did it; then I could have gone back and toilet-papered their lawn. Oh well.

Anyway, with that in mind, I decided to survey my kids, Matthew and Nina, to find out some of the worst stuff folks in our neighborhood have tossed in their Halloween bags over the years.

Although they never received any rocks, they came up with the following list of yucky “treats” that — as far as they’re concerned — were almost as bad:

Mints. Are you kidding me? Why not just hand out travel size tubes of toothpaste? “They’re not even candy, Dad!” says Nina. She’s got a point. Save the mints for Christmas, people.

Mystery candy. Like most parents, the Honeybee and I go through our kids’ candy before they get the okay to eat it. Although we’ll usually let certain candies pass that are unlabeled but safe to eat, the kids have a different opinion. Nina refuses to eat candy she is not familiar with.

Baby Ruth. Both of my kids say a Baby Ruth has too many peanuts. That’s an understatement; a Baby Ruth is not a candy bar, folks — it’s a peanut-industry research and development experiment gone awry.

Jaw breakers. According to Nina, jawbreakers are “too much work.” She also says the sour powdery finish at the center of the jawbreaker is not her idea of fun either.

5-Flavor Life-Savers. My daughter says the biggest problem with 5-flavor Lifesavers is that the flavors don’t match the colors. I agree. Red doesn’t taste like cherries, and the purple doesn’t taste like grapes. By the way, whose idea was it to make grape candy taste the way it does?

Nerds. Really? Colored balls filled with sugary powder is not my kids’ idea of great candy. Mine neither.

Taffy. The biggest complaint with taffy — which includes taffy-like confections such as Tootsie Rolls — is that you’re supposed to stay away from it if you have braces. For kids with a mouth full of dental hardware, it can arguably be the cruelest treat of all.

Any candy with coconut. The consensus here is that coconut candy is good, but only in small quantities. Nina’s biggest complaint is that after she eats more than a couple, she has to give the rest away because the taste of coconut becomes too “overpowering.” For what it’s worth, when it comes to Almond Joy versus Mounds, my son feels like a nut; Nina doesn’t.

Halloween pencils. Pencils taste bad and can put splinters in your tongue. I’m sure that’s why they usually get tossed in a drawer, unused, and never to be seen again.

Black licorice. Nina says it tastes too much like rubber. I wonder if Goodyear knows about this.

Pretzels. Matthew’s biggest complaint is that they’re usually stale. Besides, it’s Halloween; so can we just give the healthy snacks a rest for one day? Please? What’s next — celery stalks?

Gum. Aside from the fact that kids with braces can’t chew it, Nina says she hates gum because, “It makes my mouth tired.” (See: Jaw breakers.) And, if that’s not enough Nina has a few other complaints: a) it loses its flavor too fast; b) you have to be careful how you get rid of it; and c) “it makes you more thirsty.”

Old Easter candy. I kid you not, folks; a few years ago both of my kids got chocolate bunnies in their Halloween bag. After all, nothing says “cheapskate” like recycled stale Easter candy. And my kids knew exactly which house passed them out too. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Believe it or not, the next morning that home’s lawn was covered in toilet paper.

What? Hey, now … Don’t look at me.

ALSO SEE: 10 Unique Halloween Treats That Kids Love – But Rarely Get

Photo Credit: narcosislabs

(This is an updated version of an article originally posted on October 20, 2010)


  1. 1

    Olivia says

    I would have gone bonkers for coconut myself, but anything chocolate is tops with me. I had a system of saving the best for last. A good haul could last a month or more. Toss the starlight mints and licorice, eat the jawbreakers, gum, caramels, and hard fruit flavored candy, then do the chocolate with nuts, plain chocolate, lastly the mounds, almond joys (eating the almonds first, I prefer milk chocolate).

  2. 2

    cherie says

    This is all just too funny

    Now I agree on the tic tacs, but I notice your dd loves erasers but has something against the pencils . . . goodness – my 7yo is all about fancy pencils.

    As for baby ruth . . . really? We LOVE them! On the other hand my kids would use a popcorn ball to play fetch with the dog . . .

  3. 3

    mdb says

    I could see your point (though not necessarily agree with you) up to Nerds – then you lost you all credibility. Nerds – how can you not like them, unbelievable.

  4. 4

    sewingirl says

    For my kids it was the Smarties. Noboby liked the mouthful of powder taste. They kicked around in the cupboard for months until I got tired and threw them away.

  5. 5


    I love coconut! I love 5 flavored life savers! I like Nerds! (although I feel awful if I eat more than like 7 of the little sugar clumps.)

    I hated Mary Janes, Black Jacks, Baby Ruths and anything school related. Oh, and black licorice is the worst!

  6. 6

    Sal says

    My son once got one of those mini 4 ounce cans of green chilis. I’m still trying to figure out which neighbor gave it to him.

  7. 7


    Haha! This is hilarious! You have to give out the good original candy. M&M’s, Reeses, snickers, hersheys, and even though you say no coconut Almond Joys. Thanks for the great post Len.

  8. 9

    Pineview Style says

    I dunno…. I used to love some Nerds when I was a kid. I used to get that and Fun Dip at the snack bar at the pool.

    Someone was telling a story recently about a friend who had some trick or treaters come by one halloween. He didn’t have any candy but was still compelled to give them something. So he went to the freezer and pulled out some English Muffins and stuck them way at the bottom of the kids bags.

  9. 10


    I hate candy corn. It is a terrible candy that only comes out on halloween – if it were good it would be around all year round!

  10. 11


    I’m with Everyday Tips in that coconut candy, any kind of Life Savers, and Nerds are awesome. Black Licorice is disgusting. Strawberry Twizzlers are fantastic though.

    I’m with Nina that jaw breakers are too much work.

    I never thought of the taffy things and gum being torture for kids with braces. I’ll trade my Smarties and Hershey’s Kisses for all of their taffies…I love Tootsie Rolls and Airheads.

    Yeah, I’m 27 and not diabetic yet…*doing a happy dance*. :-)

  11. 12

    Becky says

    Love this post!!! My turn to chime in… I think black licorice is the worst! Baby Ruths always went straight to the trash too when I was a kid. Somebody said Smarties – another loser! You’re right about the pencils. I’ve got about a half dozen of them in my office from past Halloweens. The kids never use them.

  12. 13


    @Olivia: Very interesting! My friend, Andy, eats his dinner the way you eat Halloween candy. He eats each item on the plate in its entirety before moving on to the next. For example, first the mashed potatoes, then the asparagus, then the roast beef, then the apple sauce. If it’s fast food, the french fries always go first. Oh, and I have always been a dark chocolate lover. Ever try a Reese’s peanut butter cup with dark chocolate? Heaven!
    @Cherie: My dog loves pop corn. If you give me your address, I bet Nina would be happy to mail to your 7 y.o. any pencils she gets! :-)
    @mdb: You have a point. Thank God the Honeybee likes nerds. Otherwise, I’d probably still be looking for a wife.
    @sewingirl: I’m ambivalent about Smarties, although they are one of Matthew’s favorites.
    @Everyday: Never heard of Mary Janes. I had to look it up! They look to be similar to a bit-o-honey, or abba-zabba, yes?
    @Sal: You’re kidding right? Sounds like some house in your neighbor hood is in need of a good toilet paper hit job. Let me know if you need a “mechanic” to get the job done. LOL
    @Bruce: Hey – I love Almond Joys! This list is from the kids.
    @Coach: Wasn’t Spam and “Hurl” also on the list?
    @Pineview: Heh. Frozen English muffins! I’m still laughing about that. That is hilarious!!!!!
    @Evan: Candy corn is one of those love-it or hate-it treats. I love it. Matthew hates it. Nina loves it.
    @BIFS: Love strawberry twizzlers! I love salt-water taffy too – especially banana flavored. When I was a kid, I liked to buy those large thin taffy bars (they came in every color with a white stripe down the center) from the ice cream man.
    @Becky: I was never a big fan, but it sure was popular when I was a kid. Seemed like everybody but me liked Good n Plenty candy and black licorice ropes. Maybe you can send your pencils to Cherie…

  13. 15


    I feel like a nut! Love that commercial.

    I guess the old Easter candy is better than turning the porch light off and ignoring the doorbell…barely.

  14. 17

    Spedie says

    I love black licorice. Everyone can mail me theirs and I will eat every last piece of it!!

    One Halloween I put medium sized dog bisquits in teenagers bags. Anyone over age 16 got them. I am fortunate that I didn’t get toilet papered.

    I remember this one kid, he must have been about 17, standing out in the middle of the street saying: “That lady gave me a dawg bisquit!”

  15. 18


    All candy is good in my book..except black licorice.

    The old hag next door gives out pretzels. Surprisingly that was the first thing my son went for when he got home(maybe because it was the only salty thing in the bag).

    You FORGOT FRUIT. Hasn’t anyone given apples? Gotta hate those.

  16. 19


    OMG, I just read Spedies comment. Too funny. I too remember getting annoyed in high school and handing out candy to kids that were older than me. I wish I had thought of an “alternative” treat for them.

  17. 20


    Well I noticed my Halloween pencils ended up in the ‘Yuck’ category. Next Halloween I’ll be sure to stick with erasers! Spedie’s comment is hilarious. I agree that there’s an age limit on Trick-or-Treaters!

  18. 21


    @Kay Lynn: If I had the option of giving out old Easter candy or keeping the lights off, I’d keep the lights off. Now if I had some frozen English muffins handy, that would be a different story! 😉
    @Everyday: I love bit o honey’s. I love abba zabbas even more.
    @Spedie: I LOVE IT! :-) I always raise an eyebrow when it comes to handing out candy to high school kids. I do have a dog and plenty o’ dog biscuits. Maybe I should try that this year for anyone over 14. Hee hee.
    @First Gen American 1: “Old hag next door?” I take it you two aren’t on speaking terms? LOL 😉 I hated getting plain apples too, by the way.
    @First Gen American 2: I love the term “alternative treat.” I’ll have to use that when those teenagers catch me giving them a biscuit.
    @Little House: You can’t lose with the erasers, Jen!

    • 25

      J-House says

      I loved Almond Joys ever since I could remember around 5 or 6 I’m 26 with my own kids and tell them it’s “Coconut,” they usually back off :)

  19. 26

    bigbooty says

    lol i m going to give kids 10 out of 13 halloween treats now on next halloween.. coconut candy ..hahaha

  20. 27

    Maggie says

    A few questions:

    Do you really eat popcorn balls? My kids (and I love them), but I hear from some other parents that they toss in the trash anything that is homemade and not factory sealed, because of the potential for adulteration.

    Ditto for apples getting tossed out — remember the scare (about 15 years ago?) of razor blades hidden in apples?

    I tried to work around this by putting a label on the outside of the bag of homemade treats with “Happy Halloween from the Wolff family” (We made oatmeal raisin cookies).

    Other suggestions for great treats: small toys, especially hand-held puzzles, sticker books, washable tattoos, fake jewelry. The all-time favorite: mini cans of playdough (from Aldi’s).
    Good places to find these treats: Dollar Store, Target, Party City.

    • 28

      Len Penzo says

      Hi, Maggie. (For my readers, the comment about popcorn balls comes from my article on Halloween treats kids love.) I do not worry too much about adulteration of homemade treats like popcorn balls, as long as my kids stay within my neighborhood for their trick-or-treating. That doesn’t mean I don’t check things over still.

      The razor blades in apples thing has been around for decades. That story was going around in the 1970s when I was a kid. Again, I don’t worry about that stuff too much as long as my kids stay close by — and it’s fairly easy to check for.

      I think your suggestion about labeling is a great idea. Thanks for all your other tips too!


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