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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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Pay it Forward with Halloween Sweet Treats

Oct 22, 2014

By Dean George

Candy is as synonymous with Halloween and trick or treating as candy canes are with Christmas. So are the highly publicized candy buy back efforts by dentists every year a bit Grinchy?

Not if you know the story of how the nationwide Halloween Candy Buy Back program (HCBB) got started and what they do with all that candy. SPOILER ALERT: The neighborhood kids with their hands out are also putting their hearts into paying it forward.


Last week Agent Straight-Talk shared how the average child receives just shy of 91 pieces of candy on Halloween. According to studies by the American Dental Association (ADA), parents know this is too much candy for kids, but no one wants to step on trick or treating toes during the popular handout holiday.

A decade ago a Wisconsin dentist thought of a clever way where kids could have their cake – er, candy – and eat it with others, too. Since Chris Kammer, DDS founded HCBB in 2005, participating dentists nationwide have been offering to buy back kids’ Halloween candy for $1 a pound.

Kids bring in their leftover candy to a participating HCBB dentist a day or two after Halloween. Some dentists find sponsors to cover the expense of buying back the candy, but many donate their own money to the cause.

Not all dentists pay cash for candy, however. Some dentists work with local restaurants and retailers and give coupons for free kids’ meals, store discounts, video games, and more.

According to, the average amount of candy collected in 2013 was 500 pounds, and some dentist offices collected more than 6,000 pounds. So what do hundreds of dentist offices do with all that candy corn, gummy bears and sour worms?

They pay it forward!

The HCBB program partners with Operation Gratitude to send care packages to American troops serving overseas. Kammer told ABC News in one interview that the care packages let the troops know that we haven’t forgotten them and that the candy is a reminder of home.

Okay, I know what “the ghoul glass is half empty” types are thinking, “Isn’t Halloween candy bad for our troops’ teeth?” Compared to the usual risks and dangers American servicemen and servicewomen encounter overseas, I’m sure a little bit of candy is not high on their list of concerns. C’mon - how many troops do you think worry about changing their toothbrush while they dodge mortars and automatic gunfire?

Besides, troops that read this blog and Dental Wire know how to keep their chompers in tip-top shape. Its kids that are still learning the finer points of brushing, flossing and why not to bite into a jawbreaker shaped like a skeleton’s eyeball that need candy counseling.

Being the great American ambassadors that they are, our troops overseas pay it forward again by passing most of the candy out to local children to build relationships. Many of these kids may have never tasted candy corn or sour candy, so think what a sweet and sour experience is in store for them!

If Sweet Tarts and Sour Patch Kids were available at the end of World War II, it may have helped The Marshall Plan and the communists may have never built that ugly wall in East Berlin!

I don’t know about our readers, but that sweet gesture of sending Halloween candy to our troops sure makes me feel better about the $3.5 billion Americans spend on candy every Halloween.

Thanks for reading, and to find a participating HCBB dentist in your area this Halloween, click here. To find a dental plan that will save you money on a post-Halloween, pre-holidays tooth tune-up, click here.

If you’re brave enough for more dental thrills and chills throughout the week, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestGoogle+, and LinkedIn.


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Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC  

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