Members of the anti-food-pleasure brigade such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have attacked Halloween trick-or-treating for years. We, however, have defended the practice, because kids should have fun while they’re kids. When trial lawyers were on the prowl suing food companies for making their clients fat, we even made sure to issue celebrants with liability waivers, just in case.
There’s a new attack in town though, and as ridiculous as those lawsuits of Halloween past were, this one might be even more ludicrous. It seems that some say candy is literally cocaine. The Kansas City Star reports breathlessly that just as parents gave kids the hard drug in the 1900s, parents are giving kids candy today. Of course, the comparison is bunk.
Even Kelly “If it tastes good, tax it” Brownell, an adamant proponent of a theory that he thinks will “change the legal landscape,” admits that “nobody claims that food has [as] strong of an effect” on the brain as drugs of abuse. That sounds like a damning admission to us.
Of course things we like affect the brain—that doesn’t make them drugs of abuse. As we told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this weekend:
Any sort of enjoyment – whether eating candy, listening to music, playing video games, exercising, or falling in love – means that our brain’s pleasure centers will light up, but not that the activity is drug-like. A research team from Cambridge University investigated food and found that “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviors.”
Apparently, even Halloween itself can affect the brain. Brain scientists from Georgia Health Sciences University and East China Normal University found that our pleasure centers even light up from the thrill of fear. We would joke that the killjoys would attack the holiday itself next, but we haven’t seen a pleasure they wouldn’t restrict.