We’ve read about it in books (thank you Michael Pollan et al); we saw the scary movie (Food, Inc., anyone?); but the whole high-fructose thing came thudding home last night when the boys lugged home their Halloween goody bags.

I don’t remember the Halloween bags of my youth being quite so massive, and my suspicions were borne out this afternoon when Liam and I weighed his bag (already pillaged repeatedly by Husband, jonesing for KitKats and Tootsie Rolls).


“Wow,” said Liam. “That’s a tenth my body weight.”

5.5 pounds of high fructose corn syrup, packaged in a variety of nutted and nutless foil wrappers.  No way on god’s green earth did I get more than five pounds of candy in my suburban trick-or-treating days.

I watched last night as the kids trick or treated: people just shoveled candy, literally by the fistful, into the waiting goody bags.  Some woman handed out mini-decks of cards and I thought there was going to be a riot: NO CHOCOLATE?

Did I really grow up such a long time ago – before the invention of high fructose corn syrup?  Was there a pre-HFC time? Well, yes in fact, there was, and yes, in fact, I was doing the Halloween rounds before HFC found its way into all manner of goodies.

Back in those tasteless, pre-HFC days, we traipsed around our neighborhood at night: there was the thrill of dodging crazy Mrs. Henderson’s house, with its droopy pine trees,  but even the most familiar houses looked scary in the dark. Pathetic innocents that we were, we didn’t even realize that we were being gypped by being given only two small candy bars, or one lollipop.

Not only do my urban children go tricksy-treating in the safely lit spaces of apartment buildings, it’s still light outside when they start their rounds. Where’s the fun in that?  Daylight savings time, you’ll remember, used to start before Halloween weekend, but now it starts the weekend after.  A parent friend insisted that daylight savings time got pushed back due to pressure from the candy lobbyists, which I claimed was some kind of black-helicopter paranoia…but actually? Those purveyors of HFC-laced treats did exert some pressure on Congress to change the light-law—they insisted it was for safety, but of course, more trick or treating time means more time for candy consumption, right?

All I know is that in my apartment are two five-pound bags of candy, which is sort of like using a brick of heroin as a doorstop in a Keith Richards hotel room, circa 1975.  Who could resist?

Five and a half pounds.

That’s a lotta corn.