7 Scary Ingredients Hiding In Your Kids’ Halloween Candy

Halloween is the one-day out of the year to get your creep on, and while your costume and decor may be utterly spooky, the ingredients in your Halloween candy shouldn’t be. You can probably imagine a cauldron filled to the brim with beaver urine and beetle secretions, but in your candy? Not so much.

Each year, Americans purchase more than 600 million pounds of candy. 90 million of those pounds are purchased the week before Halloween. And 24 of those pounds? Studies show they come from candy! On average, US consumers are eating 24 pounds of candy each year. Let’s put that amount into perspective. 24 (15-ounce) cans of soup weighs 24 pounds. A giant bag of potatoes weighs 24 pounds. Two 12-pound bowling balls weigh 24 pounds. If you’re even close to the average candy eater, you’re consuming that much in candy. Even if you eat just one candy bar every other day, you’re weighing in at around 24 pounds a year.

That’s a lot of candy. The bad news? Candy isn’t just candy. It’s a melange of ingredients, most of which you shouldn’t be eating anyway - oops! - and some of which are downright disgusting. So let’s look inside those trick or treat bags and see what we’re really putting inside our bodieswhen we eat this stuff:

1. Carmine

You may not realize you’re allergic to bugs until you have a reaction from eating red-colored candy. Carmine is a food dye made from bugs that were dried and boiled. Aside from the ick factor, some people experience severe allergic reactions to this additive.

2. Gelatin

Vegetarians will be disturbed to learn that gummy candy contains gelatin, which is made from animal skin and bones.

3. Castoreum

If beaver perineal glands and urine aren’t something you would willingly ingest, you’ll want to check candy ingredients for castoreum.  This natural flavoring is used in vanilla and berry-flavored candy.

4. Allura Red AC

Allura red ac is a food dye found in some red-colored candy. It’s derived from coal tar and petroleum and was found to cause hyperactivity in children (2007 study found here).


TBHQ is an ingredient found in both Butterfingers and lighter fluid.  Although the FDA limits the amount of TBHQ used in food, large amounts of TBHQ can cause a laundry list of health ailments (natural news).

6. Shellac

If the thought of eating the secretions of a female beetle make your skin crawl, you may want to avoid jelly beans and Skittles. Shellac, made from the female lac beetle, lends a shiny coating to some candy.


Vegans and vegetarians beware! Chewing gum may contain lanolin, disguided as a gum base. This softener is made from oily secretions produced in a sheep’s wool. — Brooke Lark

(Photo: iStock)

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