I love my childhood memories of Easter. My dad’s tradition was to hide three identical, bountiful baskets of candy in one hard-to-find spot and construct an elaborate treasure map to lead us to it. My sister, brother, and I would hunt all over for it (one year it was in the trunk of his car—genius!) and when we found it, felt like pirates finding buried treasure. It was awesome.
Now that I have kids of my own (ages 7 and 10), I love to hide delicious treats for them on Easter. But I’m less crazy about the idea of giving each of them an enormous bucket of junky candy loaded with corn syrup and coloring. Yes, I do own a candy store, but believe it or not, I am careful about what my kids eat and limit the amount of candy they’re allowed.
I want my kids to love their Easter baskets, but don’t want to drop a 5-ton sugar bomb on them. So what’s a parent to do? A few tips from the Candy Man:
- Choose quality over quantity. Skip the mega-sized bags of candy from the drugstore. If you buy even a few for variety, you can wind up with 6-8 pounds of candy on your hands – yikes! Having that much around the house sends the message to kids that candy is a snack, when really it should be enjoyed as a special treat after a good meal. Instead look for smaller bags, around 4 oz each, or small chocolate or candy items weighing 1-3 oz. You’ll get all the fun and variety without the excess.
- Keep it real. The best candy often has very simple ingredients. Picture a beautiful handcrafted caramel made from cream, sugar, and butter, and flavored with vanilla bean or honey. If you want to reduce the amount of artificial colors and flavors in your Easter basket, include some all-natural handmade items like caramels, chocolate bars or bunnies, nut brittle, or toffee. (Side benefit: you’ll enjoy it more too. We know you sneak some for yourself!)
- Mix it up. Once you’ve chosen the type and amount of candy you actually want your kids to have, fill out the basket with something else fun – little toys, a stuffed animal, a cool pen or journal. Better yet, toss in something that encourages activity, like a jump-rope or paddle-ball. Your kids won’t miss that mega-pack of Peeps for a second.
Andy Paul is the owner of Andy’s Candy Apothecary, offering a curated collection of fine and unusual sweets from local, domestic, and international sources. Located at 1012 9th Street in Downtown Sacramento.