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October 31st, 2013

What’s Really Scary on Halloween

By Jo Miles

When I was a kid, I loved Halloween (okay, honestly, I still do). Like most kids, I loved it for the candy, and I always went for the chocolate: Hershey’s bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and so much more.

But for me, the very best candy was from Hebert’s, the local candy shop that’s been in my hometown in Massachusetts for nearly a century. Their “store” is a big old house, which they call the Candy Mansion, and it was packed wall to wall with every sort of candy, all of it homemade. I remember it seeming like Willy Wonka’s factory when I was a kid; it was larger than life.

Sadly, I won’t find Hebert’s candies where I live now. In fact, you have to make a real effort to find any local candy at Halloween. That’s because over 99 percent of Halloween candy is made by just three mega-companies.

That’s right. For all the types of little, individually wrapped chocolates you see on the shelves at Halloween, 99.4 percent of it is made by just three companies: Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé. Those are your only choices — and that really is scary!

Why? Because these three companies are infamous for environmental, social justice and deceptive marketing problems and candy is just the tip of the iceberg. Our researchers at Food & Water Watch have found this trend throughout the supermarket, not just in the candy aisle: across the board, our food is being produced by fewer and fewer companies, despite all the brands that we see. This is a serious problem. When just three companies control virtually all of our candy (or any other category of food), the choices we make are just an illusion. Those companies have all the power over what we eat. 

Want to avoid genetically engineered ingredients? Good luck. 

Do you prefer real sugar over high-fructose corn syrup? They don’t care. 

Are you trying to create a better world by supporting the right businesses when you shop? That only works if you have several options to choose among — and increasingly, you don’t.

That’s why we’re challenging the lies this Halloween. If we want to change the system, first we have to wake people up to the fact that our food is controlled by big corporations — even more than we ever realized. 

Share this infographic on Facebook to spread the word about how three companies control your Halloween.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a local candy company near you, I hope you’ll show them some love this week.

Want to learn more about consolidation in the food supply? Check out these links:

Learn more about Food & Water Watch’s Executive Director Wenonah Hauter’s book Foodopoly

The Economic Costs of Food Monopolies

Consolidation in the grocery store

This blog also ran on Earth Island Journal’s Latest News

2 Comments on What’s Really Scary on Halloween

  1. Holly says:

    Is Nestle a foreign owned company? Even scarier!

    • Jacky says:

      genetically engineered ingredients, yeah that is scary…and not only with candies probably 90% of the foods in the supermarkets are made that way!

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