The UK does celebrate Halloween, but it is a fairly different sort of celebration. Chris had previously been to a Halloween party or two and Brighton’s annual Zombie walk, but trick or treating in the sense that American children do it is unusual in the UK. It is a more adult affair with university students dressing up as things that are edgy like a zombie or a sexy nurse. Chris said he even saw a girl dressed up like Hitler for Halloween once. Obviously, edgier, more adult stuff happens in the US too, but the UK celebration mostly lacks the more innocent aspects that are specifically for children.
Pumpkins are, of course, less common in the UK. You can buy them, but they aren’t a local product and Chris had never carved one before yesterday:
Two things happened that admittedly made Halloween a lot less fun than it could have been. The first thing is that we had absolutely no trick or treaters, so Chris didn’t get to experience a lot of what the difference from the UK. I was surprised at this. We live in an apartment, but in the context of a massive gated community with lots of kids. I don’t know where they did their trick or treating, but it wasn’t locally. We didn’t see a child all day and the only person I saw dressed up even a bit was myself.
Something else is our little corn problem. Like many holidays around the world, food plays a significant part in this one. Halloween in the US is very much about the treats, the candy. As we mentioned earlier, Chris appears to react poorly to high fructose corn syrup and possibly other forms of corn syrup and corn oil. I gave it up too because it is easier to mostly eat the same stuff, and having read quite a lot about it, it sounds awful for you. For most things, there has been a solution, but candy has not got there yet. There are many products with words like simply or organic added to them with are basically exactly the same as the HFCS version, but American candy makers seem to have missed the memo. Even posh brands like Ghirardelli and Dove use either HFCS, non-high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup solids in their products if they contain anything other than chocolate. Caramel in particular is basically just a sold block of corn syrup in most candies.
As a result, the candy that we could both eat ourselves and give away was limited. We thought of buying something we couldn’t eat and throwing away the rest, but honestly, I think I hate the corn lobby now and I don’t want to support this unnecessarily subsidized industry. With so many Americans worrying about their government wasting their tax money, get on their case about paying for unnecessary corn production just because corn has a big lobby. Most of the corn in this country goes into being made into weird syrups and oils, not nice things like making tortillas or being eaten as corn on the cob. I don’t know why this has been allowed to go on when it doesn’t seem to offer any benefit the people of this country. There may actually be some huge downsides if it really does make diabetes more likely. I don’t normally like to get political on this blog, but I can’t actually see Republicans or Democrats loving their government funding something so pointless.
We thought Whole Foods might have something that would be suitable but expensive, but they had very little. If anything, they only had 4 products that were packaged in the way considered suitable for Halloween (fully sealed individual packaging for parents paranoid about all those things that are basically all disproved on snopes). 3 of those products were not suitable for peanut allergy sufferers, which include Chris and many small children. Basically, the only one suitable for nearly everyone was a sort of very pricey M&M clone:
The other two were both milk and dark chocolate peanut butter cups (yum) and actual peanuts (what child, allergies or not, would want that?). Whole Foods need to work on expanding this range. I would have happily paid several times more but got real sugar versions of things I grew up with. If anything, Whole Foods are usually great at this – having ketchup, oreo type cookies, chocolate syrup and so on with real sugar instead of HFCS or even non-high fructose corn syrup. I really hope this changes as it appears to be changing in other food industries.
I also very much hope we get some trick or treaters next year. This was the first time I’d been in the US at the right age and circumstance to be on the other side of Halloween i.e. giving away treats. I am bummed I wasn’t able to. Being a couple with no kids but too old to go trick or treating ourselves by a long shot, it wasn’t as much fun seeing no one dressed up and not getting to give any of our overpriced non-HFCS candy away.
Here’s the video. It is actually way more positive than this post and features Chris carving his first pumpkin ever: