One child got candy, the other a toy. Their reactions shocked me.
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A letter from BurgerFit CEO, Alane Boyd
This past weekend I took my son, Fletcher, to Project Chimps in Morganton, GA for Chimp or Treat, giving kids an opportunity to dress up, receive a goodies bag, and get a tour of the chimpanzee sanctuary. When signing him up, they had a “Teal Pumpkin” option to choose from. I didn’t even know what Teal Pumpkin was but they had a small note under it that instead of candy at each stop, the child would receive non-food treats such as temporary tattoos, erasers, and other goodies. Since I try my best to not overload Fletcher with candy in general, I chose this option for him. I will be honest, he was not thrilled when he learned that he’d be missing out on the candy but he was very excited to see what types of goodies he would be getting instead. In fact, when he told people he was going to Chimp or Treat, it was quickly followed up by his excitement over what he was going to get in his goodie bag.
When we made it to check-in for Chimp or Treat, he received a bag with a small teal ribbon on one of the handles to indicate that his was a Teal Pumpkin goodie bag. It was subtle enough that it didn’t make him stand out from the other kids. There were only three other kids in our Chimp or Treat tour group and Fletcher was the only one with the teal ribbon on his bag.
Throughout the tour to see the chimps, there were several places set up for the kids to get treats. Each stop had two treat bins, one with candy and one with the non-candy goodies. What I observed next is the reason for this letter.
The kids would each go up and get their treats. The kids that got the candy would walk away and say something like, “Cool! I got ____.” If you think about the times that you have gone trick or treating, kids simply observe what candy they receive, they may make a comment if it’s their favorite, but then they just move onto the next house. This experience was no different. But what happened with Fletcher receiving his “Teal Pumpkin” goodies was much more notable. He would walk away from the treat station, digging through the new 3-4 items he’d just received with pure and genuine joy & excitement! “Mom, look!!! I got tattoos and what?! I got a sticky hand!!! I cannot believe this!” This continued to happen at every single stop after receiving his goodies! Then while walking throughout the tour all he would talk about was what he got and how couldn’t wait to get back to the AirBnB so he and I could play with them. When he got Disney Princess tattoos, he instantly thought of his cousin, Ruby, and said he wanted to give them to her. It was truly a special moment to be able to witness.
When we got back to the AirBnB he played with all of his toys for hours! We also went outside and put on his tattoos and he was so excited. On the car ride back home, he continued to play with his toys, clearly not tired from any of them. Watching him play with those toys for hours and witnessing the joy and excitement that they brought him got me thinking. You can’t get that same gratification from candy. The burst of dopamine that we get from eating candy only lasts for a few seconds and then it is gone and we go searching for the next burst, unsatisfied from the piece we just ate.
Growing up, I could eat as much candy as I wanted and was never regulated on how much I could have. One of my parents’ (and mine) favorite memories is of me sitting on their bed, eating candy from my Christmas stocking, and watching Billy Ray Cyrus on VHS. I was having my own party. But, I was an overweight kid and it only got worse as I got older. If you know my BurgerFit story, you know my struggle and the journey I’ve taken to reclaim my health. I have to work at keeping my weight off every single day and not slip back into old habits. I can’t buy candy for the house because I can’t just eat one mini Snickers. I can eat ten, easily.
If as parents, we can help to stop this self-destruction for our kids, then shouldn’t we do everything we can to try? The habits we form as kids follow us into adulthood and it is so hard to change them after years and years of doing the same thing.
I’m not saying we have to throw out all Halloween Trick or Treating or candy in general, but what if some of us took a different approach? What if we decided to say no to the candy for our kids, but yes to fun toys, gadgets, sticky hands, and tattoos? I’m guessing other kids will find more long-term joy out of the goodies they get just like Fletcher did. I know I enjoyed “opening the tattoo parlor” and putting on his glow-in-the-dark Halloween tattoos with Fletcher – something I wouldn’t have been able to experience with him if he had received only candy.
Are you looking for Halloween candy alternatives?
Check out our blog: 25 Non-Candy Halloween Treats Kids Will Love
Are you looking for healthier Halloween candy options?
Check out our blog: Healthier Halloween Treat Ideas for the Health-Conscious Mom
Prep Your Kids For All Those Sweet Treats
Check out our blog: Healthy, Kid-Friendly Recipes to Combat the Halloween Candy Overload
Meet our Founder
Alane has kept her 40 lb weight loss off since 2013, and created BurgerFit and Cooking with My Friends as a way to get her family eating better. Her health journey started in 2012 after being diagnosed with high blood pressure and obesity. Frustrated and determined, Alane decided to make small, sustainable changes in her diet so that it would be maintainable for a lifetime. Now Alane maintains a healthy weight range and has incorporated quick and easy recipes that keep her picky family members eating better!