Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) once joked that his group “is proud about finding something wrong with practically everything.” But when it comes to Halloween, he wasn’t kidding. Several All Hallows Eves ago, CSPI “investigated” just about every kind of candy that’ll be dropped into Trick-or-Treaters’ sacks tonight — Butterfinger, Kit Kat, Milky Way, Snickers, you name it. Surprise, surprise: CSPI says they’re all bad for you.
How’s this for a Halloween scare? “Every time you reach for candy… you’ve missed an opportunity to eat fruits, vegetables, or other foods that might reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and obesity,” CSPI says. “You could always hand out low-fat granola bars — and toothbrushes.”
It’s not just Halloween candy, but witches and wizards too, that CSPI slams. The group is currently exploiting Harry Potter, the beloved boy wizard of children’s literature, because Coca-Cola is sponsoring next month’s Harry Potter family film. At a website called SaveHarry.com, CSPI strives to make children afraid to drink soda by bombarding them with overstated claims and questionable research, saying popping a pop will give them fragile bones and heart disease, rot their teeth and make them fat. It’s all a rehashing of a baseless 1998 CSPI report — called “Liquid Candy.”
CSPI’s anti-soda campaign, wrapped around an aggressive membership marketing drive and covered in the group’s rich $19 million annual budget, is one treat that doesn’t satisfy.