What The Heck Is In My Candy?

(Cue scary music)

It’s late in October, the moon is full and the cupboards are full of candy. Soon, in a strange ritual, one parent will hand out various types of sugary consumables whilst the other takes their children door-to-door in search of other people’s contributions to tooth decay. Later, after checking the candy for any hazardous additives and calling dibs on their favorites, parents will dole out these treats for weeks. Any candy leftover in households will also be consumed with glee over the coming weeks. Real sugar addicts may even buy it on markdown to satisfy a sweet tooth.

There are things (not necessarily these things) in some of that candy that chill my blood. If you are faint of heart or have a medical condition then please be warned. This may get disgusting (or interesting – depending on your outlook) and it’s okay to look away, feel nauseous, vomit in your mouth a little or go running for a healthy snack.

The catalyst that started me thinking about what was in my candy was a sweet little tutorial called, “How to eat fewer insects”. Whoa. Wait a minute. There are insects in my candy? These insects did not just wander in while the candy was being made either. Candy makers were deliberately using insects in their manufacturing process. I want to know if I’m eating bugs. I might even choose to eat them. If you try to slip them in on me though I’m apt to say, “Hey, what else are you trying to pull here?”

All vegetarians and vegans are probably completely appalled by now because insects are technically meat. I’m not done though.

My mom and I once stored a huge bar of chocolate on top of the refrigerator where it was nice and warm. You might have thought we’d have learned our lesson after the powdered sugar doughnuts we’d sat up there grew a well-camouflaged white mold that we discovered only after taking a bite. Chocolate
wouldn’t get moldy was our reasoning. It was perfectly safe there for weeks – except from us, of course. Then one day I broke off a piece and “Aaaaaaah!!!” there were worms living in it. How did they get there? Well they didn’t just crawl in. They hatched from their eggs. Yuck!

The FDA says no more than 359 insect fragments and 5 or less rat hairs in six 100-gram chocolate samples or we’ll have to take action, even though it’s only of aesthetic significance. They call it “filth” and yet set levels for it “because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”

Does this mean I'm giving up candy? Well, no. Even if there's lead in my organic dark chocolate or car wax in my Almond Joy I will still indulge occasionally. Candy is yummy and there are so many varieties. There is candy with caffeine, candy I get for free, candy that kids will love, candy from all over the world and candy that will burn my lips off. Besides, I can always make my own candy if I want to be really safe. So don't be afraid to eat candy or try new kinds. It's not like it will kill you. Probably.