At my house, we love celebrating the holidays. So of course, when we see all the brightly colored holiday treats in the grocery store, they’re ever so tempting: from fluorescent frosted cupcakes, cookies decorated with a rainbow of sprinkles, lollipops with faces and fun scenes painted on them, etc. And in addition to the ready-made holiday treats, the grocery stores make sure there’s a plethora of holiday-themed food items all ready for YOU to cook or assemble.
But all this stuff can have A LOT of artificial coloring–usually much more than standard store-bought treats. Not to mention, these brightly colored items often don’t taste that great. One example is Wilton’s Halloween-themed orange and black nonparallels. They’re cool looking sprinkle-like toppings for ghoulish cupcakes or cookies–but they taste TERRIBLE! I was actually shocked at how bad these things tasted: putting a little pile of them in my hand and smelling them closely, and I detected a strong chemical–or perhaps, sodium–odor. And they tasted exactly the way they smelled. Such a striking difference from my Cake Mate brand pastel sprinkles, which actually taste good!
Another example of a poor quality, horrible tasting product is Betty Crocker’s Rich and Creamy Halloween Party Chip frosting. This Halloween-themed frosting is bright orange with tiny chocolate chips floating through it. Now, I have no issue with the chocolate chips–once you get one between your teeth, it’s as tasty as any standard Nestle chocolate chip. But the frosting, itself is pretty bad. The flavor is like Crisco with sugar added–nothing more. I even tried adding a teaspoon of lemon extract to try to cover up the Crisco taste, but it wasn’t quite enough to do the job.
Not all Halloween-themed treats taste bad, nor do they all have loads of artificial colorings. But it seems a good many of them do. So what’s the solution? Do we never buy this junky stuff again?
Some health extremists might take that position. For my own family, I try to keep a balanced perspective. I DO buy the “junkier” holiday-themed food items sometimes. But I just as often–maybe more often–make treats completely from scratch without adding artificial anything.