Oh, the horror: Parents steal a third of their kids’ Halloween candy!

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NEW YORK — There are few days on the calendar as magical for young children as Halloween. It’s the one day each year we all get to celebrate everything spooky, scary, and macabre. All Hallows’ Eve is especially fun for kids as they get to dress up as their favorite characters and patrol the neighborhood collecting something far more valuable than money — candy! It seems kids aren’t the only ones with a sweet tooth every October 31st, though. According to a new survey of 2,000 U.S. parents with children between the ages of 3-15, two-thirds of respondents have stolen candy that their kids collected while trick or treating.

It usually isn’t just one or two pieces of candy either. Among parents who admitted to stealing candy, the average respondent ate a full third of their child’s Halloween candy haul. The 2019 survey, put together by Spinbrush, also reveals that a shocking 59% of parents have even hidden Halloween candy from their kids!

Parents’ tricks to snag their children’s candy

So how are parents getting away with all this thievery? After stealing some candy, 44% say they simply hide it away and hope their kids don’t notice; 43% pretend the candy magically went missing all by itself; and 41% tell their kids they had to take some in order to “inspect” it for safety. The top five stealing strategies were rounded out with sneaking a few pieces when the kids aren’t looking (40%) and pretending the candy has gone bad (37%).

The most popular places parents hide their stolen sweets include their bedroom (57%), behind food in kitchen cabinets (54%), and on top of the fridge (53%). Other often cited hiding places were parents’ cars (51%) or work offices (46%).

Larceny isn’t the only way parents are satiating their Halloween cravings. More than half of respondents (63%) say they have bought far more candy for trick or treaters than they knew they needed, all so they could feast on the leftovers.

Happy — and healthy — Halloween!

Besides just investigating candy theft, the survey also asked parents about their household candy and dietary rules during Halloween. In all, 66% say they try to limit their candy intake around Halloween time, and 65% set strict rules regarding how many pieces of candy their kids can eat on Halloween. The average amount allowed by respondents was a maximum of 12 pieces.

When asked how they enforce these candy restrictions, the most common answer among parents was to simply instruct their kids to eat a certain amount each day (68%). Other popular strategies include bringing left over candy to work (47%), and hiding extra candy following Halloween (42%).

Eating lots of candy is synonymous with subsequent dental problems, and it’s clear from the survey’s results that cavities are still very much on the minds of American parents each fall. A total of 84% of surveyed parents say they worry about their kids’ teeth around Halloween time and 81% worry about their own dental health.

Luckily, 52% of respondents say both they, and their children, always brush their teeth shortly after indulging in some candy. Other ways that parents ensure their kids’ teeth stay healthy around Halloween include making sure their children brush twice each day (58%), limiting the amount of candy their kids eat (54%), and ensuring their kids use a specific type of toothbrush or toothpaste (53%).

The survey, first published on October 31, 2019, was conducted by OnePoll.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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