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Turn Extra Sweets into Healthier Treats: LA Candy Buybacks

That stomachache?  It’s from pulling your favorites out of the kids’ trick or treat bags last night after they went to bed. You give thanks that at least this candy festival is now over, and vow to make a huge kale salad for dinner, or maybe start that juice cleanse tomorrow. Meanwhile, you’re greeted with a grinning munchkin with two giant fistfuls of candy, asking “Can we have lollipops for breakfast?”  We’ve got some sweet ideas for weaning the kids off the candy, and then putting that candy to a sweet purpose – one that won’t cause cavities or sugar highs!


The Switch Witch
Have you heard of the Switch Witch? You can embellish your own tale to tell your tots, but the general story goes something like this:

“The Switch Witch is a very greedy little witch who lives in Candyland. Her house is hidden so deep in the Peppermint Forest that even King Candy can’t find her. All the other witches in the world envy the Switch Witch for her amazing candy collection, and she loves being the top candy witch in the world. To make sure she has enough candy, every Halloween she offers this deal to all the children who went trick-or-treating: If they leave their ‘extra’ Halloween candy outside their bedroom door, she will trade it for a new toy!”

As parent, you get to determine the definition of “extra candy” (some families we know leave all the candy, some let the kids pick out a piece or two a day for the upcoming week) and the size of the toy (or prize – movie tickets, a silver dollar, whatever you like).

What do you do with the candy you’ve switched? Donate it to one of these worthy charities:


Give Something Sweet
What about appealing to your kiddo’s instinctive loving, caring nature? They have loads of candy, and other people have none. Let them help you package your candy, (and maybe even organize a drive at your preschool, school, church or in your neighborhood) and select one of the following charities that accept candy donations for great causes. (Or, if you went the switch witch route, you can surreptitiously deliver the candy yourself!)

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude sends over 100,000 care packages each year to U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their kids who are left at home and to wounded warriors, veterans and first responders. Your candy goes right into those packages, to bring a smile to the face of a national hero. (Check the details before packing up your candy, chocolates need to be in separate packages, and it’s awfully nice if you include a few other goodies from their list.) You can hand deliver or ship your contributions to:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, Ca

Operation Shoebox
Here’s another great option for simply putting all that candy in a shoebox, slapping a mailing label on it and dropping it off at the post office, knowing it will find its way to our troops! Every year they send tons (literally!) of candy to service men and women who are happy to have sweets you don’t want (they like coffee, too, if you’d like to add an extra treat.) Mail it to:

Operation Shoebox
8360 E Highway 25
Belleview, Fl
Learn more online:


Candy Buy-Back
Dentists and orthodontists know best just how much damage all that sugar can do to little teeth, so many are pro-active in taking the candy out of kids’ hands and putting into the hands of our troops abroad and others in need. These dentists “buy” the candy back from kids with cash, toys, toothbrushes, or prize drawings – each dentist has a different program. To make the candy-buy back process super simple, all you have to do is go to this page, and enter your zip code.  They’ll tell you the dentists nearest you who are participating!  Online at:

What do you do with all your leftover Halloween candy?  And which ones do you sneak from the kids bags and eat?  (We’re all big Junior Mint and Peanut Butter Cup fans around here!)

-Meghan Rose

Photo Credits: Nina Hale via Creative Commons, Jeffery Turner via Creative Commons, Casey Flesser via Creative Commons, Andrew Malone via Creative Commons and Surface warriors via Creative Commons.

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