What Kind of Halloween Candy Do You Buy?

October 27, 2015
Jo Miles

If you haven't stocked up yet, try a local store

When I was a kid, I loved Halloween (okay, honestly, I still do). Like most kids, I loved it for the candy, and I always went for the chocolate: Hershey Bars, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and so much more.

But for me, the very best candy was from Hebert's, the local candy shop that's been in my hometown in Massachusetts for nearly a century. Their "store" is a big old house, which they call the Candy Mansion and it was packed wall to wall with every sort of candy, all of it homemade. I remember it seeming like Willy Wonka's factory when I was a kid; it was larger than life.

Sadly, I won't find Hebert's candies where I live now. In fact, you have to make a real effort to find any local candy at Halloween. That's because over 99 percent of Halloween candy is made by just three mega-companies.

That's right. For all the types of little, individually wrapped chocolates you see on the shelves at Halloween, 99.4 percent of it is made by just 3 companies: Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé. Those are your only choices — and that really is scary.

Why? Because these three companies are infamous for environmental, social justice and deceptive marketing problems and candy is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Food & Water Watch’s research team has found this trend throughout the supermarket, not just in the candy aisle. Across the board, our food is being produced by fewer and fewer companies, despite all the brands that we see on the shelves. This is a serious problem. When just three companies control virtually all of our candy (or any other category of food), the choices we make are just an illusion. Those companies have all the power over what we eat.

Photo by Jeff Turner - The illusion of choice.

Want to avoid genetically engineered ingredients? Good luck.

Do you prefer real sugar over high-fructose corn syrup?They don't care.

Are you trying to create a better world by supporting the right businesses when you shop? That only works if you have several options to choose among — and increasingly, you don't.

That's why we're challenging the unchecked power of these corporations this Halloween. If we want to change the system, first we have to wake people up to the fact that our food is controlled by big corporations — even more than we ever realized. And if you're lucky enough to have a local candy company near you, I hope you'll show them some love this week.

Want to learn more about consolidation in the food supply? Check out these links:

The Economic Costs of Food Monopolies

Consolidation in the grocery store