Boycott Hershey for Healthy Halloween Candy

hershey's candy bars on a white backgroundIn years past, I’d wait until October 30th before I hit the market for Halloween candy. But I now know that’s a sad trick, because conventional candy is full of food dyes: Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, have all been linked to allergic reactions and behavioral problems in children.

The only way to avoid these artificial food dyes is to buy USDA certified organic foods, which are guaranteed by our government not to contain synthetic ingredients. But organic Halloween candy has traditionally been hard to find—especially the night before the big day. Not anymore!

It’s easy to find Halloween candy that looks & tastes like our childhood favorites, but is made without artificial flavors & colors, GMOs—or child slave labor. Sadly, this is not true of Hershey’s.

This year I found quick-delivery Halloween candy options in the form of Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate Bars (only the big bars are available at Amazon, but there are snack sizes on the Equal Exchange site), YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Fantastic Fruit Bubble Gum and Unreal Candy, which is available in stores like Target, CVS and Ralphs.

Free of corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, GMOs, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, this Halloween candy looks and tastes just like the familiar snacks we grew up with—think lollipop’s, bubble gum, M&Ms, and peanut butter cups—without the crap that makes them so bad for our kids.

I especially like that these Halloween candy options are food dye free. Not only are food dyes dangerous, they’re discriminatory: After European manufacturers were required foods to display a food dye warning label in 2012, they began to substitute natural colors for dyes—but only in Europe. Nestle, for example, announced that they were phasing out use of all artificial food additives from their entire confectionery line in the U.K., but not the U.S.

Even if you go for conventional Halloween candy after all, please boycott Hershey. Although major candy manufacturers such as Cadbury and Nestlé have shifted to third-party certification in order to more accurately assess labor problems, last year a report from the The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University specifically held Hershey—the biggest U.S. chocolate manufacturer—responsible for the continued prevalence of child labor, forced labor, child trafficking, and verbal, physical and sexual harassment in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where the company sources much of its cocoa.

Buying candy for kids made by child slaves? That tragic irony is so easily avoided.

Photo: Want more information on planning a healthier holiday? Check out Green Halloween!



  1. Anyone have the scoop on Ghirardelli? I love their 60% cacao chips.

    • Rachel Sarnoff says

      I looked them up and although they are not certified fair trade, they don’t source from the Ivory Coast, where most of the labor problems have been discovered. They seem to have a very stringent policy in terms of keeping tabs on their sourcing. They are not organic, however. Thx for reading!

  2. I’m so sad….I had No idea Hershey was so naughty…It is (was) my Fav chocolate…
    I shared this on FB, I’m sure I will get Tons of responses….Shame on you Mr. Hershey…

  3. I had no idea that Hershey’s implemented child slave labor in their candy production! That just goes beyond the ‘unhealthy’ aspect of their products into completely unethical!

    My family and I LOVE Unreal and YumEarth candy! It just makes you feel good knowing that you’re consuming something healthier while satisfying your sweet tooth 🙂

    • Rachel Sarnoff says

      I don’t think it’s fair to say they implemented it, they’re just not doing anything to address the problem. SO glad you are trying Unreal and YumEarth they are SO good, right?!?

  4. not to mention Hershey tastes like crap…

  5. Nice post Rachel! This is so important. Off to share. Want to join us this week on MomsRising #EcoTIpTue this week on Green Halloween? We’d love to have you!


  6. We boycott all chocolate unless it says Fair Trade and is organic. I wish people would pay more attention to these things, I get tired of trying to keep people from shoving candy down my kid’s throats. I have become militant about it with the adults who try to push it, but my three year old is awesome. He says ‘No thanks, Mommy has some no caca stuff for me.’ LOL!

    • Rachel Sarnoff says

      Oh that’s awesome! My kids have not been so supportive. But each year we move the needle a little bit further! I just ordered organic fair trade minis to hand out, but I do let them bring home the crap they get from other houses. Sigh.

  7. Great idea. I think I will stock up on the “good” treats and secretly swap out the junk while it’s still dark out.

    • Rachel Sarnoff says

      Great idea Jordan! You must not have teenagers yet 🙂 I think mine catalogue what they bring home in their bags.

  8. I had no idea. OMG. Thanks for sharing this info.

  9. For years I gave out YummyEarth candy for halloween. All the moms would smile when they saw it. The kids on the other hand gave me dirty looks. 🙂 I am going to try unreal this year since we don’t have a lot of visitors.

    I bought Unreal myself and it is really good by the way. Ask my hips.


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