Everywhere you turn, there are bowls of Halloween candy that are full of spooky ingredients like sugar, fat, soy lecithin, polyglycerol polyricinoleate, sodium metabisulfate, resinous glaze, and carnauba wax — yum!
OK, let’s be honest — a list of sketchy ingredients isn’t going to stop anyone from hoovering a handful of [insert favorite Halloween candy here].
We’re not here to rain on your candy parade; you can still enjoy the scary good sweet stuff — if you eat them in moderation and if you know which ones you really should avoid (or eat less of).
Use this guide to tally up your sugary treats and don’t let the “fun-size” options fool you: They may be smaller, but the calories, fat, and sugar content still pack a significant punch.
For reference, when it comes to added sugars, the American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) for women and kids aged 2 to 18, and no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Per day.
Pro tip: You don’t have to give up sweets for Halloween; just skip the sugar bombs and try one (or all!) of these healthier treats!
The Worst Chocolate Halloween Candies
Whether they’re stuffed with caramel, nuts, or coating delicious crispy wafers, chocolate candies are hard to resist.
Chocolate taps into our deep-seated love for both sweets and fats. Sadly, it’s not the good kind of fat since most chocolate candies are made with partially hydrogenated fat or palm oil.
Beware of these top 10 offenders:
1. Whoppers (1 tube): calories 32, fat 1.2 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm oil, whey (milk), cocoa; malted milk (barley malt; wheat flour; milk; salt; sodium bicarbonate), resinous glaze, sorbitan tristearate, lecithin, salt, natural & artificial flavors, calcium carbonate, tapioca dextrin.
2. Milky Way (1 mini-bar): calories 38, fat 1.6 g, sugar 1 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, skim milk, less than 2 percent milkfat, cocoa powder processed w/alkali, malted barley, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor.
3. M&Ms (1 fun-size pack): calories 67, fat 2.3 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate, sugar, cornstarch, less than 1 percent: corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (includes blue 1 lake, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, red 40 lake, blue 2 lake, yellow 6 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2), gum acacia.
4. Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme (1 mini bar): calories 67, fat 4 g, sugar 1.6 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil, nonfat milk, corn syrup solids, enriched wheat flour, lactose, 2 percent or less of cocoa, whey high fructose corn syrup, chocolate, lecithin, baking soda, salt, natural flavor and artificial flavor, tocopherols, PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate, a compound that reduces viscosity).
5. Kit Kat (1 fun size bar): calories 70, fat 3.7 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, wheat flour, nonfat milk, cocoa butter, chocolate, palm kernel oil, lactose, milk fat, contains 2 percent or less of: soy lecithin, PGPR, yeast, vanillin, artificial flavor, salt, sodium bicarbonate.
6. Snickers (1 fun size bar): calories 80, fat 4 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate, peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, milkfat, skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor.
7. Twix (1 cookie): calories 80, fat 4 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, PGPR, artificial flavors), sugar, enriched wheat flour, palm oil, corn syrup, skim milk, dextrose, less than 2 percent of food starch-modified, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, soy lecithin, artificial flavor.
8. Almond Joy (1 snack size): calories 80, fat 4.5 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: corn syrup, milk chocolate, coconut, sugar, almonds, 2 percent or less of vegetable oil, cocoa, whey, salt, hydrolyzed milk protein, lecithin, sodium metabisulfite.
9. Butterfingers (1 fun-size bar): calories 85, fat 3.5 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa, molasses, and less than 1 percent of dairy product solids, confectioner’s corn flakes, nonfat milk, salt, soy lecithin, soybean oil, cornstarch, natural flavors, TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone, a preservative) and citric acid (to preserve freshness), annatto color.
10. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1 cup): calories 67, fat 2.3 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, corn syrup solids, soy lecithin, PGPR, emulsifier), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ.
The Worst Straight Sugar Halloween Candies
Straight sugar candies are mostly made with sugar, sugar, and more sugar, and dressed up with artificial flavors and dyes.
These types of candy provide a quick sugar rush since they’re uninhibited by fat or protein, which can slow down their digestion.
11. Smarties (1 roll): calories 25, sugar 1.5 tsp
Ingredients: Dextrose, citric acid, calcium stearate, natural and artificial flavor, color (red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake, blue 2 lake).
12. WarHeads Extreme Sour Hard Candy (4 pieces): calories 50, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Corn syrup sugar, microencapsulated malic acid (malic acid, hydrogenated palm oil), citric acid, gum acacia, deproteinized soybean oil, ascorbic acid, artificial flavors, carnauba wax, corn starch, blue 1, red 40, yellow 5.
13. Sour Patch Kids (1 treat-size bag): calories 55, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, tartaric acid, citric acid, natural and artificial flavoring, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1.
14. Airheads (1 bar): calories 60, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, modified food starch (corn), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, less than 2 percent of: citric acid, water, artificial flavors, artificial colors, red 40, blue 1, yellow 6, yellow 5.
15. Apple Pops (1 pop): calories 60, sugar 2.5 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, skim milk, heavy cream, malic acid, whey, salt, artificial flavors, sodium caseinate, soy lecithin, artificial color (includes FD&C blue 1, FD&C red 40), turmeric coloring.
16. Skittles (1 small pack): calories 67, sugar 3 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2 percent of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural & artificial flavors, colors (red 40 lake, titanium dioxide, red 40, yellow 5 lake, yellow 5, yellow 6 lake, yellow 6, blue 2 lake, blue 1, sodium citrate, carnauba wax.
17. Candy corn (19 pieces): calories 140, sugar 7 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze (shellac), salt, dextrose, gelatin, sesame oil, artificial flavor, honey, yellow 6, yellow 5, red 3.