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Can Candy Companies Really Be Sustainable?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday October 31st, 2012 | 6 Comments

Halloween is a big money maker for candy companies. National Confectioner’s Association estimates candy sales for Halloween will be $2.4 billion. The majority of the candy sold is loaded with artificial flavors, colors and hydrogenated oils. However, there are good tasting alternatives available, as the book Unjunk Your Food: Healthy Alternatives To Conventional Snacks by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos shows.

Making products that contain better ingredients is part of what it means to be sustainable. The book lists companies that produce better junk food, devoid of artificial ingredients and hydrogenated oils. In short, the book is about “unjunking” your junk food. We all like junk food, but eating healthier does not mean never eating junk food. The key, as the authors of the book put it, is to “choose foods that are minimally processed or prepared without unnecessary chemicals and additives, and to eliminate artificial ingredients as much as you possibly can.”

There are three companies in particular listed in the book that produce better candy: Newman’s Own Organics, Surf Sweets and Yummy Earth. Newman’s Own Organics produces a number of products including junk food such as pretzels, cookies, licorice and pop corn. Started by the late actor, Paul Newman, in 1993 as a division of Newman’s Own, Newman’s Own Organics became a separate company in late 2001. The company also produces a chocolate line called Signature Chocolate Series. The line includes six chocolate bars and five different flavors of chocolate cups that do not contain artificial ingredients or hydrogenated fats, as conventional ones do. In addition, the chocolate is certified organic and Rainforest Alliance.

Newman’s Own Organics are sold at a long list of large grocery store chains, as listed by the company’s website. The website also contains a search engine which allows customers to enter their zip code to find stores that sell the products.

There’s just something about gummy bears and worms that children love, as do kids at heart. Both Surf Sweets and Yummy Earth make them, and their products are available at Whole Foods and online. Surf Sweets is a part of TruSweet, LLC and sells gummy worms and bears and jelly beans. All of the company’s products are “free of trans fats, GMOs, corn syrup, gluten, artificial colors and flavors,” as the website proudly proclaims. All of the ingredients in Surf Sweets’ products are also certified organic by the USDA.

Started by two fathers, Yummy Earth also makes lollipops, in addition to gummy bears and worms. All of the products are made with real fruit extracts, and organic ingredients, as the company’s website touts.

Featured photo: Flickr user, JeffreyTurner

Other photos: Newman’s Own Organics, Surf Sweets, Yummy Earth

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  • http://www.just-works.com/ Just Works Consulting

    So sorry you weren’t able to include Divine Chocolate!

    • http://twitter.com/gmcheeseman Gina-Marie Cheeseman

      There wasn’t enough room. Divine Chocolate is fair trade, isn’t it? I’m big on fair trade chocolate.

      • http://www.just-works.com/ Just Works Consulting

        Yes. Actually, Divine is partially owned by a cooperative of small scale cacao farmers in Ghana—probably the coolest ownership structure of any candy company I have seen. There is Divine in the UK and a sister company here in the US.

        • http://twitter.com/gmcheeseman Gina-Marie Cheeseman

          Wow! That is really great. I have to find out where I can buy Divine chocolate in my area.

  • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

    “free of trans fats, GMOs, corn syrup, gluten, artificial colors and flavors” … but still rip roaring with sugar, which is the main issue.

    Not that it’s a big deal once in a while. I put candy in the same place as alcohol or anything else that’s bad for you in large doses but is perfectly fine in manageable amounts once in a while. The real issue is marketing and the amount of dollars and the methods by which these things can be marketed that often times overwhelms cultural norms and parental ability to keep a handle on it.

    • http://twitter.com/gmcheeseman Gina-Marie Cheeseman

      Nick, I share your view on candy and sugary treats in general. It’s good in small amounts every now and then. It can be incredibly addictive in large amounts. Marketing to children is certainly a problem with both candy and fast food, but I think that the artificial flavors and colors in most candy is also part of the issue. That stuff needs to go from candy. To find candy without the artificial ingredients, you have to dig and it costs more. As a friend of mine says, “Our bodies know what to do with sugar, but not artificial ingredients.”

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