Is there such a thing as healthy candy? Manufacturers would have us think so. At least that’s what it seems like the makers of Applehead candy wants us to believe. Why else would they tell us it is “Made with REAL FRUIT JUICE?”

Yeah, right. Eating a box of Appleheads is just like eating an apple! Don’t be conned. Concentrated fruit juice is just a euphemism for sugar.  Here’s the USDA’s list of added sugars:

Brown Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Glucose, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Invert Sugar, Lactose, Maltose, Malt Syrup, Molasses, Raw Sugar, Sucrose, Sugar, Syrup.

Do we even want candy to be healthy? As far as I can tell, that would be the ultimate parental nightmare. How would we control the onslaught?

Healthy candy would only make us more likely to give into our kids’ demands for more of it. But even the healthiest candy is never going to be broccoli.

And unless ALL candy is going to be healthy, even if kids start out eating the good stuff, sooner or later they’ll migrate to the really “good” stuff. (If you know what I mean.)

It doesn’t matter what kind of sugar is in candy. It’s still sugar… And candy is still candy.

You don’t need the USDA to tell you that candy is one of the top sources of added sugar in the American diet.

But just in case you want to see their list of top offenders… Regular Soft Drinks, Candy, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Fruit Drinks (i.e. fruitades & fruit punch), Milk-Based Desserts (ice cream, sweetened yogurt & sweetened milks), Grain Products (such as sweet rolls and cinnamon toast).

Are there better choices?

Sure, there are candies that have added vitamins (Welch’s Fruit Snacks, for example), less sugar (1 box of Nerds has only 6g) or lower fat contents (Good & Plenty has 0g) — but it doesn’t matter.

No matter what kind of candy your kid enjoys, eating candy fosters a candy habit.

It’s not what you eat that matters; what’s important is how often you eat it

So what should you do?

  • Let your kids eat candy.
  • Tell your kids the truth about candy so the packaging does not fool them. Pictures of fruit on the outside mean nothing about what’s on the inside.
  • Consider the other sweets and treats your kids eat when you work candy into their diets.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Sources: (accessed November 3, 2009); Zinczenko, D. and M. Goulding, 2008. Eat This Not That for Kids. New York, NY: Rodale.