Switching Halloween candy for cash: A sweet deal?

Some dentists are offering cash in exchange for Halloween candy.

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Candy, candy everywhere. It’s in bowls and piles and definitely wedged in the molars of my kids. The excessive candy before and after Halloween can be very scary for parents—especially if you pause to think of the potential cavities that are waiting to happen in every sticky candy that your kid eats on All Hallow’s Eve.

Luckily, dentists are coming to the rescue. They are the unlikely heroes of the season as more and more offices are offering a Halloween candy exchange program. The premise is simple: Your child swaps his or her candy for cash, plus a bonus toothbrush. Dentists give kids one dollar for every pound of candy they deliver. (Some even add in coupons and small prizes as well.)

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But does it work? The scent of money may be even sweeter than those Reese’s Pieces, as one Calgary dentist has found out. Last year, Dr. Thomas Evans retrieved 1,500 pounds of candy at his candy exchange. (His record is 1,700 lbs). His candy exchange is a full-on party, with costumes and larger prizes for the kids who bring in the most confections.

The craze, which was started by an American dentist, is catching on—at least two dentists in the GTA are offering this same sweet deal. Dr. Corey Grossman in Georgetown is hosting his second annual candy exchange, last year he bought back 40 kg (about 88 pounds) of treats.

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So, what do the dentists do with these piles of sugary treats? In the US, the trend is to donate the candy to troops overseas. Last year, Dr. Grossman donated his candy to a Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser. Dr. Evans of Calgary is much more hardcore about all that refined sugar (his marketing rep calls it “a recreational drug”) and they send all the candy to the landfill. In exchange, the office donates the same weight in apples to a local Calgary food bank.

What if you don’t have a dentist with pockets full of loonies and good intentions? That’s when you call in the Switch Witch. Think of this modern invention as a twisted version of the Tooth Fairy.

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Here’s the idea: the kids leave their candy with the Switch Witch, who will sweep the goodies away and leave a magical surprise in its place. You can order the official Switch Witch book and accompanying toy to go along with the concept, or simply practice it yourself at home.

Witches beware: As a retired Switch Witch, I can honestly tell you that the magical surprises escalate year after year—what started as a fun, silly exchange for candy became a full-on gift-giving extravaganza. But it was fun while it lasted.

As for all that candy, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the Caramilks “disappear” into the laundry room and the rest somehow make their way into the Switch Wizard’s office.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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