One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


10 Things in Candy I’m Not Sure I Want to Be Eating

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Halloween is in two weeks and I’m already dreading it.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halloween — the spooky movies, dressing up, decorating the house. It’s not any of that.

It’s the CANDY.


Every year I think it’s not going to be a big deal. “I’ll just have one or two pieces,” I say and then the flood gates open. I find myself rummaging through the kid’s stash for Twix and Kit Kats after they go to bed. It’s sad.

I know all the tricks: Buy candy you hate, wait until the last minute, blah, blah, blah. It’s all good advice, but at the end of the day, I still find my hand in the candy bag.

So this year I decided to do something different. I decided to educate myself. I wanted to really learn what’s in this candy I’m eating so I can make an informed and conscious decision of whether I want to put it in my body.

Note: You may think I’m anti-candy but I’m not. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl. There’s only one problem: sometimes I have a problem with the moderation part. I hope this helps.

10.  Titanium dioxide, found in Skittles

… and sunscreen! That’s right. The same stuff we slather on our skin to prevent burns also happens to help make food white, which is why it’s also found in marshmallows. Oh, and paint. I don’t know it just doesn’t sound like something we should be eating either. Click here for more info.

9.  Carrageenan, found in Baby Ruth, PayDay

Apparently it adds texture and thickness but has NO nutritional value and has been shown to be destructive to the digestive system. Interesting enough it’s “natural”.  Check out this article on Prevention for more information if you are interested.

8. TBHQ aka Tert-Butylhydroquinone, found in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Baby Ruth, Goobers

It’s a preservative that does not cause discoloration in food and it’s been deemed safe for consumption even though the FDA limits it usage to 0.02%. I’m not so sure I’d categorize something as safe when it has to be limited to such small quantities. Click here for more info.

7. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, found in Snickers, Almond Joy, Tootsie Roll, Reese’s Pieces, Whoppers, Baby Ruth

According to some it’s quite possibly the most harmful ingredient in processed foods. Look, even Urban Dictionary says so.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 3.10.42 PM

I’m only partially joking here. It is a trans fat and it is bad for you. Click here to see what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it.

6. PGPR, aka polyglycerol polyricinoleate, found in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, Twix, Peppermint Pattie, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Mr. Goodbar, Hershey’s Special Dark

PGPR is considered safe for consumption, however, according to, PGRP is used to replace the expensive cocoa butter that is normally found in chocolate. So they take the stuff that actually may have some health benefit to us and replace it with what? A bunch of chemicals to mimic chocolate. Let me guess, it’s cheaper.

5. Carnauba wax, found in Nerds, Mike & Ikes, Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, Good & Plenty, Jolly Rancher Gummies

Another “safe for consumption” ingredient, carnauba wax is the same stuff used in car wax, shoe polish and cosmetics. Just thinking about that makes me reconsider grabbing that handful of Swedish Fish from The Husband’s stash. More info on FitSugar. 

4. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil, found in Milky Way, Skittles, Butterfinger

Contains less trans fat than partially hydrogenated soybean oil, but like carnuba wax, I’d much rather it stay in my cosmetics and candles than my food. I’m thinking it’s just best to stay away from the word “hydrogenated.” More on

3. Resinous glaze, found in Reese’s Pieces, Whoppers, Milk Duds

Also known as shellac, it is secreted by an insect called the tachardia lacca beetle. According to, it is also used in furniture polish and varnish, hairspray, shampoo, perfume, cosmetics, and paint. Yikes!

2. Yellow dye No. 5, found in candy corn, Starbursts, Nerds, Skittles, Butterfinger, Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms, Dots, Jolly Rancher Gummies

I decided only to pick one dye or my list would have just been filled with them. According to CSPI’s Chemical Cuisine, it causes allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children. It may be contaminated with such cancer-causing substances as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl (or chemicals that the body converts to those substances).

And the No. 1 Thing In Candy I’m Not Sure I Want to Be Eating is …

1. Sugar, aka high fructose corn syrup, aka almost anything that ends with -ose, found in EVERYTHING

I don’t want to start a sugar vs. corn syrup argument because that’s not the point of this. The point is to be a little more aware of what we are deciding (yes, deciding — what you eat is a conscious decision, or at least it should be) to put in our bodies, and the more time I spend thinking about it the more I want to reduce my overall sugar intake. If you really have some time, you may want to read this article in the New York Times about it.

Listen, I’m not an alarmist. I don’t think we are all going to die if we indulge in a few bites of candy this Halloween. But for some of us just having a “few bites” is a problem. So maybe, just maybe, if we are a little more aware of what we are eating, it will be a little easier to stop at a bite or even skip it altogether.

Now I feel like a big downer but I have to be honest, I’m not craving those Twix bars I know will be in the 8-year-old’s Halloween bag!

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There are 23 comments so far.


    October 15, 2013

    WHY do they have to put all this crap into food???? Why can’t they just stick with the basics and what occurs naturally! I am totally rethinking the candy at Halloween this year! Yuck!! Thanks for a great article Roni!!


    October 15, 2013

    But it’s not just candy—I recently found out that the red/purple color in Dannon’s 80 calorie Greek yogurt is CARMINE–ground up bugs for there color. They have to list it because it is an allergent and can also causes trouble to your stomach.
    Why in the world would we need this for color?
    Dannon’s answer, ” If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it!”
    They can’t put this in their product if it is sold outside this country, so why do we allow it????

    Sammy @ Peace Love & Ice Cream

    October 15, 2013

    Well this is depressing! lol
    It’s so hard – because if this stuff is so bad for you….how the heck is it legal for them to put this in our food?!?! Especially food that’s marketed towards kids!!! It’s really scary!
    -Sammy @


    October 16, 2013

    It just makes me feel like a horrible mother for letting my kids eat anything candy! Forget about myself…


      October 16, 2013

      I KNOW! I said the same thing to my husband!


    October 16, 2013

    Is there any candy that is a “better” choice? I am not asking for other food items (apples, bananas, carrots) I am saying it’s Halloween, I would like to buy and eat some candy that is more natural and good tasting. Any Idea’s?


      October 16, 2013

      Unreal is making a difference…


      October 16, 2013

      I was thinking about things that we might have made at home 50 years ago, like peanut brittle, caramel apples, melted chocolate. And then of course there’s larabars which is a step above apples. I also want to put in a plug for Indian barfi, which are too sweet for me but are extremely “natural”. Ground nuts plus sugar and spices – you might ask them to leave off the silver foil if that worries you. My favorite is the mixed cashew/pistachio roll.


    October 16, 2013

    These sketchy ingredients aren’t just in candy but are also found in most processed foods.


      October 16, 2013

      Ugh, I know.

    Martha Glantz

    October 16, 2013

    What a downer! I know candy isn’t good for me, but this is really good incentive to stay away from the stuff. Already decided that any leftover candy goes to the office or the library; let someone else eat it.


    October 16, 2013

    Wow Roni! This was very enlightening. Thank you for sharing that NYT article, it was fascinating! This really helped me feel more educated about what I’m putting in my body.

    Tracy @

    October 16, 2013

    I am so glad you posted this information!! Ever since I had my son nine years ago I have been mindful of what we eat and the chemicals in the foods we buy. And yes they are chemicals. I am amazed to this day how so many chemicals are in our foods. My husband works with chemicals and regularly points out what some of the ingredients in our foods are used for in the non food industry. Eeeeek! I hope people are grossed out by your article and I hope it hits home. You can find yummy peanut butter cups and candy with NO CHEMICALs. We just need to read ingredients and find cleaner choices. I hope if people need candy or want to share candy with their children get them chemical free candy. As Halloween arrives, I will buy back my sons neighborhood candy and replace it with “clean” candy that he likes and maybe a few dollar bills for his funny money.


    October 17, 2013

    For what it is worth, Trader Joe’s has pretty normal ingredients in their candy. Toblerone is good too and some candies from Germany and Switzerland are pretty harmless (can be found at Wegman’s in NE USA).


    October 18, 2013

    Gross! Thanks for the post. Great info here


    October 19, 2013

    I pretty much swore off M&Ms when we had a mouse (mice?) in our pantry and they got into a bag we had for holiday baking and ate out the chocolate leaving a pile of the shells! Maybe I should post that as my spooky halloween post! ;-)


    October 24, 2013

    wow! this is an eye opener. we all know candy is bad for us, but this bring it to a new level!

    Melissa E.

    October 30, 2013

    I have a sensitivity to all sugar substitutes. I get reactions such as tingling fingers and face, hives and my favorite…migraines. It took me a long time to figure out what was causing these symptoms and try my hardest to not ingest anything with these “poisons”. Well, they are in everything. Try finding a chewing gum without them! It is candy…I expect sugar not artificial sweeteners. Then they are even in medicines now. If it is flavored it is most likely aspartame doing the sweetening. Instead of taking something to feel better, I have taken something for a cold and gotten a 3 day migraine thanks to the artificial sweetener. I do think that food companies and pharmaceutical companies are trying to kill me some days.


    October 30, 2013

    Wow, just craziness! It’s sad that this kind of crap is what we have to deal with and can’t just eat it because we can trust the companies have our best interests in mind…not so. :( I do have to say, if I had a child and we went to someone’s house and they handed out homemade treats of any kind wrapped in wax paper or something—I would throw it out because I have no idea what they made or how clean their kitchen is! Yet if there was a Snickers I “know” that brand so it would be okay? HA! Lose lose situation. Know what I mean?

    Tracy Portal

    November 1, 2013

    I used to have real sugar cravings that I have managed to get under control. Anything processed these days seems to have no end of hideous things in them. All natural is the way to go for good health!


    November 9, 2013

    weight loss helps one maintain a good shape


    May 14, 2014

    I know this article is old, but its make the same dumb comparisons as everyone else on the internet. Skittles are made with the same stuff as sunscreen!!!. How about sunscreen is made with the same stuff as Skittles. Corn is made into auto fuel. Therefore corn is bad, because its the same stuff that makes cars go, so therefore we have to compare it to gasoline, kerosene, etc..


      May 14, 2014

      My post is supposed to be a light-hearted look at candy to get people to stop and think whether they want to be eating it. So even though I see your point I’m not sure what your intention is. Are you saying things like skittles are good for us?