13 Yucky Halloween Treats Kids Would Rather Toss Than Eat


Been there. Done that.

When I was a kid I remember coming home from my annual after-dark Halloween trip around the neighborhood and emptying the booty in my pillowcase, on top of the kitchen table, to see what I scored from my ghoulish trick-or-treating adventure.

Of course, most of my take was usually the typical Halloween fare like the miniature candy bars.

Every year, though, I also got a few unexpected items; some were really awesome Halloween treats — but others were not.

One year I even got a rock in my bag – just like Charlie Brown. I’m not kidding.

It’s a good thing I didn’t see that rock go in my sack when it was handed out though, or I promise you that bozo’s front yard would have looked like a winter-wonderland because I would have gone back and toilet-papered it later in the evening.

With that in mind, awhile back I surveyed my then-preteen 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 the kids never received any rocks, they did come up with a list of yucky “treats” they got that — as far as they’re concerned — were almost as bad.

Mints. The kids both remember the time somebody handed out Tic Tacs; I do too. Are you kidding me? Why not just hand out travel size tubes of toothpaste? According to Nina, “They’re not even candy, Dad!” She’s got a point, people. Save the mints for Christmas.

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.   Face it, kids are finicky; they do the same thing with vegetables.

Baby Ruth. Both kids agree that a Baby Ruth just has too many peanuts. That’s an understatement. I don’t care what you say; a Baby Ruth is not a candy bar, folks — it’s a peanut-industry research and development experiment gone awry.   Besides, when most kids are really jonesing for peanuts, they’ll get their fix by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Jaw breakers. According to Nina, jawbreakers are just “too much work.” (Exercise has never been her thing.) If that isn’t bad enough, she also notes that the sour powdery finish that comes upon reaching 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 — to be specific, the red doesn’t taste like cherries and the purple doesn’t taste like grapes. I agree with her regarding the grape ones – whose idea was it to make grape candy taste the way it does? – but I’m not so sure about her assessment of the cherry. (By the way, for all you Life-Saver fans rolling your eyes over this selection, I never said this was a scientific assessment.)

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.” I know. Peering into the mind of a child is one of life’s ultimate joys.   By the way, my son definitely feels like a nut; Nina doesn’t. (If you’re under 35 and wondering what that last sentence is all about, go ask your Mom.)

Halloween pencils. Pencils taste bad and can put splinters in your tongue. But seriously, both kids agree the problem with pencils is that they usually get tossed in a drawer, unused, and never to be seen again.

Black licorice. When I was a kid black licorice was pretty darn popular. Nina says it tastes too much like rubber. I wonder if Goodyear knows about this.

Pretzels. Can we just give the healthy snacks a rest for one day? Please? What’s next — celery stalks? Matthew’s biggest complaint is that they’re usually stale. I’m talkin’ about the pretzels, not the celery.

Gum. Aside from the fact that kids with braces can’t chew it, Nina says she hates getting gum because, “It makes my mouth tired.” (See: Jaw breakers.)   On top of that, from a kid’s perspective gum also has a troika of other bad traits: it loses its flavor too fast, you have to be careful how you get rid of it, and “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. 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 too.

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!

  21. 29

    Diana says

    We lived out in the country and there was one kid of trick or treating age who lived in our area. We gave him an apple when he came to our door. He said he now had 20 apples and no candy!

  22. 30

    It's for the kids! says

    Every year, as well as candy, I give out glow bracelets. It started as a safety thing (no street lights on my street), but the kids love ‘em. They often ask if they can have a second bracelet instead of the candy.

  23. 31

    Wanda says

    my experiences with the LAST halloween candy to be dumped in the trash was ..the dollar store fake tootsie rolls, generic bubble gum that was so hard you could not chew it and grape dum dum suckers.

  24. 32

    Jay says

    Wierd candy would have been preferable to the treatment kids were getting at this house in Los Gatos, CA. This fellow would sit behind his tripod and take pictures of the Trick or Treaters through his picture window. He never opened the door and pretended that he couldn’t be seen as his camera flashed. It was creepy that someone was collecting our images. However, it was better to be a trophy on film rather than stuffed and mounted on a wall.

  25. 33

    mamman says

    In our part of the country, you get hardly any candy in your treat bag at all… all chips! And not your regular sized bag, tiny ones with 6 chips in them.

  26. 34

    Rob says

    We’ve lived in Switzerland for seven years. We all agree, Tootsie Rolls are what’s missed the most in the world of candy. Nerds we find in a few places so we’re safe on that account. The rest? Eh. Can do without.

  27. 35

    Randyk says

    Believe it or not when i was a kid we actually had a family that handed out day old home made buscuits. Any of the above would have been better.

    • 36

      Spirit says

      hahah what?!?! That’s would suck! But I might have you beat, we had a dentist that lived in my neighborhood…I’m sure you can already guess it, but she would always give out travel size toothpaste bottles and floss.

  28. 37

    Creatin says

    Haha! The story about the rock really made me chuckle. But seriously, it’s pretty rude and nasty handing a kid out a rock.
    I also really hate people who hand out fruits instead of candy. Yeah sure it’s healthy, but come on it’s Halloween!

  29. 38

    Jill Ha says

    These candies all seem fine to me, with the exception of stale Easter candy. The one candy I didn’t like were the toffee candy in those white wrappers. However when it came to trick-or-treating and Halloween, it was almost never about the candy. It was the only time of year where you could dress up in a costume and go door-to-door with your friends and hit as many houses as you could before it got too dark. You play games at home and at school and pretend to scare others around you. The candy was just the added bonus to your night of fun. Whatever the candy was or what it tasted like didn’t matter, as long as you had a lot of it. Many times you wanted enough candy to tide you until Christmas, the bigger candy-and-toy holiday.

  30. 39


    The solution to this is easy: Don’t take them trick or treating. That way they won’t get anything they don’t like.

    Besides, most of that stuff is nearly addicting as any hardcore drug that you can take. Predisposing kids for a lifetime of obesity isn’t being kind to them.

    • 40

      Len Penzo says

      Interesting take. Or are you being facetious? You don’t really believe a single night of trick-or-treating each year predisposes kids to a lifetime of obesity. Or that candy is just as addicting as, say, heroin or cocaine. Do you, MBH?

      • 41


        I didn’t mean to imply that just one night would predispose them. Feeding them refined sugar does, and typically kids do get a lot of that on Halloween. And yes, studies have shown sugar to be as addictive as cocaine or heroin:


  31. 42


    Are you nuts?? I love Baby Ruths…and anything with coconut is wonderful. (Now if the Peter Paul people would get their act together, and put almonds on top of the Mounds dark chocolate bars — perfection.)
    Bubble gum, too (especially Bazooka), and if I was really lucky, a package of candy cigarettes. That way, you could shock people and eat the cigs, too.

    Can see your point about the mints…and I loathe black licorice. (Both my husband and my dad were fond of the stuff — my mom and I would compete in giving it to them for Christmas…so the OTHER person would have to deal with the smell!)

    I would have said that maybe these were adult tastes, instead of kids’ preferences — but I loved the same flavors, as a kid.

    Personally, you could substitute in Bit O’ Honeys (which my dad loved, and confiscated), and those nasty chalky pink discs that tasted like Pepto Bismol. Bleah.

    Latest post:

  32. 43

    Allyn says

    OMG thanks, Len. Got that song stuck in my head now.

    ~~Sometimes you feel like a nut.~~
    ~~Sometimes you don’t.~~
    ~~Almond Joy’s got nuts;~~
    ~~Mounds don’t.!~~
    ~~Peter Paul Almond Joy’s got nuts; ~~
    ~~Peter Paul Mounds don’t.~~
    ~~Sometimes you feel like a nut; ~~
    ~~Sometimes you don’t!~~

    Some days I hate you.

  33. 45

    Lola says

    I love taffy – especially if it has peanut butter or nuts (Bit o’ Honey, Mary Janes, Abba-Zabba – bring ‘em on!!!) Oh, and the peanut butter filled taffies that come in Halloween colored wrappers? YUM!

    I’m kind of offended by all the Baby Ruth haters here, lol. I think if it’s covered in chocolate, it counts as good candy. Payday bars, on the other hand… those I can do without!

    Black licorice = possibly the worst thing ever.

  34. 46


    While I’d have to agree with most of these (especially the black licorice…yuck!), I must disagree with the Nerds. They are so fantastically/disgustingly sugary that I simply can’t help myself from dumping box after box into my mouth.

    Fun article Len!

  35. 47

    Oscar says

    So pretzels are a no because they are healthy snack but then colored balls of sugar (nerds), i.e. the ultimate non-healthy snack, are out also?

    Really, this post needs to be renamed to “13 Yucky Halloween Treats MYSELF AND MY Kids Would Rather Toss Than Eat.” I am sure most kids are not so particular as to shoot down both ends of the spectrum.

  36. 49

    Myriah says

    Great post! Not a fan of the corn candy at all. Baby Ruths were a treat because Halloween was the only time they ever came out! In my time the plastic bag wasn’t invented yet, (a/k/a when dinosaurs roamed the earth but Halloween was still safe adn fun). Living in Colorado, my paper treat bag inevitably got wet and soggy trudging through too much snow and by the time it was full, broke through on someone’s front step every year. I still remember the tears of shame LOL

  37. 50

    Kelly A. says

    That awful maple flavored taffy stuff individually wrapped in orange wrappers. I don’t know what they’re called but I always despised those things.

    Now for the part that will make me sound like a horrible person. Every year we get our share of hoodlums trick or treating. Boys probably about 17 or 18 years old, way past the trick or treating age, not even in costume, standing there at the door in their baggy pants and their baseball caps turned sideways or backwards. They don’t even say “Trick or Treat!” When you open the door they just demand, “GIMME SOME CANDY!”

    So this is what I do. Instead of eating the leftover candy from last Halloween, I put it into the laundry room. Lots of heat and humidity to make it el-yucko. I put that into a separate bowl and when the gangstas come to the door, I reach for the bowl of last year’s candy and give them a nice handful. Break a tooth, fellas! :P

  38. 52

    Renee says

    Sad to say that when I lived in an apartment, my roommate & I didn’t expect trick or treaters. We thought we would have left before they started arriving. We were wrong and were caught off guard. After tossing some candy from the treat bags some well-meaning lady at work gave everyone, we started giving out cough drops. Mint ones at that!

  39. 54


    Interesting post, but i wonder if you guys ever seen or Tried a RAW PAPAYA dressed like a human skull. Look for it on the web its creepy real looking art. It’s one of the most original things i’ve seen when visited Thailand last year. I wish i could show you guys a photo of it.

  40. 56

    Louisa says

    The worst for me was Necco wafers, in a little roll. Always got thrown out. Anyone old enough to remember candy cigarettes?

    • 57

      Len Penzo says

      I loved candy cigarettes, Louisa! In fact, I was so addicted to them I needed a candy cigarette sugar patch to wean myself off them.

      (OK … maybe I wasn’t that addicted to them.)


  41. 58

    Brian says

    I love Mounds. I always got a bunch of stuff with peanuts, almonds, or walnuts in it. I like peanuts and cashews, but I don’t like them in anything (although, I did like peanut M&Ms). I always gave my Almond joys away or traded them if I could.

    Almond Joy, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Milk Duds, Now and Later, Carmel Cubes, Peanut Brittle, Peanut Butter Taffy that was wrapped in black or orange wrappers, Sloe Pokes, Good-n-Plenty, Mike and Ikes, anything with black licorice, 100 Grand, 5th Avenue, Bit-O-Honey, Dots, Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy, Junior Mints, Lemon Heads, Ring Pops, Sugar Babies, Zagnut, Bazooka Gum, Dum Dums…

    I hated all of those. Unfortunately, that’s mostly what I was left with once my parents took what they wanted.

    The razor blades, pins, and needles stuck in fruit was an urban legend started by candy companies to get more people to give out candy instead of fruit or something homemade. It worked too because my parents threw out everything that wasn’t store bought and individually factory wrapped.

  42. 59

    michwake says

    LOL. You names most of the stuff my son loves. He hates chocolate. He loves wonka stuff (nerds, taffy, etc.). He loves the gum and jawbreakers too. I guess his mouth gets a good work out!

  43. 60

    Horrified says


    That is all I can say. You sound like a spoiled brat to me. I’m guessing that you are what is labeled as “high maintenance” by your significant other; if you aren’t single by now due to your unbelievable rude behavior. They made a movie once that perfectly describes your behavior: “Mean Girls.” Watch it and note the message of the film. It might help save you from the bad karma you are creating with articles like this one.

    Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I’ll give you that. The problem with your article is that it describes candy that many people love as bad. It’s written in a way that makes it sound like everyone should hate this because I do. You leave a bad taste in my mouth and what matters most to you, I won’t be back, let alone click on any ads to make you money on the web. I’ll sum it up with a response that matches the age appropriateness of the content of this article: third grade clicky bull: “you like, suck.”

  44. 62

    Amanda says

    Strangely, while I’m not fond of Baby Ruths, I love Paydays. They are basically the same thing, but I like the one without chocolate! Who’da thunk it?

    Nerds rule! My kids have been fighting over the little boxes all weekend. My little one and I have been fighting over the Smarties. I’m resisting the urge to sneak the fruit chew snacks out of their bags. Those are great little extra treats to put in lunch boxes. One neighbor gave microwave popcorn bags… meh.

    As for the coconut and black licorice, who decided that stuff was candy? That’s just wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>