Last Halloween, Judah Hansen didn’t have much to show for all of his trick or treating except for $22 in cash. It’s an annual tradition for the Kansas nine-year-old. He and his parents visit a dentist’s office the morning after Halloween to sell his candy. The dentist offers a dollar per pound of candy to keep the sugary treats out of his patients’ mouths. “I’d rather get money and have some candy instead of having a bunch of candy and not being able to eat it all,” Judah told us.
According to a new survey from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Popcap Games, the average child receives 90 pieces of candy during Trick or Treating. I know that my own daughter, Judah, and their peers don’t need all of that.
The ADA survey points out that Judah’s mom and I are not alone. Seventy percent of parents surveyed agreed they’d like their kids to receive less candy. The most shocking stat – 89 percent of kids said they would still like Halloween if they didn’t focus as much on the candy and did more so on the other fun activities and traditions.
“Even when Judah was a toddler, we ended up with a ridiculous amount of candy after Halloween,” Judah’s mom Lacy told us. We didn’t want it around the house for that long as it posed several weeks of temptation for us and he was constantly asking, ‘Can I have some candy?’ When buyback became an option, we jumped on it.”
So if parents don’t want the kids to have it, and the kids don’t care either way – why do we keep buying it? Marketing, of course. Since the candy manufacturers aren’t about to let us off the hook, neither are our dentists, it’s kind of a perfect match.
Candy buy back programs have grown in popularity over the last few years. Starting November 1, you’re bound to find at least one dentist in your community trading cash, toys, or prizes for candy.
Dr. Mitchell D. Scheier in Havertown, Pennsylvania is buying back candy for $1 per pound. It’s the fifth year for Dr. Scheier & Associates’ Halloween buy back program, paying out to 100 people last year. They donate the candy they collect to the troops.
“We do this one, to help limit the amount of sugar our young patients consume during a holiday surrounded by candy and two, to offer our soldiers a sweet reminder of home during this time of year,” said Dr. Scheier.
Dr. Mark Gadberry, DDS at Covina, California’s Premier Esthetics is using his candy buy back program to help support the troops, too, by including the treats in care packages. There is no cash payout, but for every pound of candy your children turn in to Dr. Gadberry he is offering a raffle ticket for an Xbox 360 Kinect.
It’s a double opportunity to do some good at most of these buy back events. Almost every dental office we found used the candy to make care packages for the troops. But other types of donations are made as well.
At Belmont Dental Care in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Gilbert Parrott might have the best buy back deal of all! He is offering $5 per pound of candy returned plus a $50 donation to Lakeview Food Pantry for every pound of candy! “Our goal is to teach kids Halloween is not all about sugary candy,” said Dr. Parrott. “Cash For Candy presents other incentives to the kids, stresses the importance of oral hygiene, and shares our values of helping out the neighborhood at the same time.”
In Southern California, The Super Dentists are hosting their annual candy buy back in Eastlake and Oceanside. They pay out $1.00 per pound of candy to any kid who drops off their Halloween treats! The dentists will also donate $1.00 per pound of candy collected to the Tri-City Hospital Foundation as well as use the treats to send care packages to troops.
In all 132 nationwide locations, Kool Smiles is participating in a buy back for the first time ever. For every 25 pieces of candy returned, the dental offices will give your child a toy (up to three toys per child). They too will turn the candy into care packages for our troops through Operation Gratitude.
“Halloween can be especially rough on kids’ teeth,” explained Kool Smiles Regional Dental Director Priya Grewal, DDS. “The increased frequency of candy intake for many children around this holiday can increase the risk of and/or cause cavities or exacerbate existing oral health problems. This program encourages parents and children across the country to reduce the frequency their teeth are exposed to sugars by exchanging some of their candy for a fun toy.”
These days, Halloween is all about the toy for kids like Judah. His mom Lacy told us that, “Halloween has become a mission for him to walk as many streets as possible to collect as many pounds as he can. He typically requests we go immediately to the store once he’s traded the candy in. We want to oblige and really enjoy our Halloween tradition.”
In the ADA survey, they reported that 78 percent of kids agreed that “too much candy is bad for me,” and the majority admitted they eat too much of the sweet stuff during the holiday.
Judah agreed, telling us, “I like [selling my candy] because it’s healthy and it’s more fun buying something I want.” Last year, he cashed in his $22 worth of candy for Legos. We hope he scores again this year!