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I don’t think I could call myself a journalist if I missed the Thanksgiving news peg. Oh, you know, the time of year when each of us is required to make a list of all the things we should be thankful for.
And without doubt, there’s plenty to be grateful for this year. Nevertheless, as we come out of the coma that is the great recession, and look to a future beat up by the European debt crisis, my evil editor suggested it might be more relevant to show some anti-gratitude this holiday season. Looking back on the year, it wasn’t hard to find a cornucopia of anti-praises.
5. Sugar subsidies
I know, I know, you too were worried about the U.S. sugar farmers. You were stressing out that they were not going to make enough money this year. No worries! The U.S. government continues to offer them millions of dollars of subsidies each year. Too bad it comes on the back of candy makers and others in the industry, who have to add in artificially high sugar prices to their ingredient costs.
Sure, the current U.S. sugar policy has contributed to the loss of an estimated 112,000 jobs in American sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2009 alone, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. But if it was not the right thing to do, our government would surely have stopped by now, right?
4. Candy buy-back programs.
In most cases, dentists offer coupons, tooth brushes or just cold-hard cash for the confections children collect during Halloween, and kids are left to wonder if there is any joy left in the world.
3. Candy taxes
But, if buying back candy doesn’t make clear how evil sweets are, then surely, taxing it more will.
According to research from the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan educational organization, 17 states tax candy at a higher rate than other groceries. That’s despite the fact that governments can’t even seem to figure out a logical way to define “candy.” For example, some states have decided that products without flour don’t qualify for the tax, leaving out candy-aisle staples such as Kit Kat and Nestle’s Crunch.
According to The Globe and Mail, schools in Ontario ( as well as many other school districts throughout the United States) are no longer allowed to sell chocolate for fundraising purposes.
Lawmakers there claim its a way to curb childhood obesity, but opponents point out that chocolate is easier to sell than alternatives such as gift wrap and magazine subscriptions, making it more profitable for the organizations trying to raise funds.
See what happens when candy companies try to do a little good in the world? They’re still somehow made into a villain.
But possibly the saddest news in the industry this year is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement that it is in fact, “possible to overdose on black licorice.” In fact, the FDA has officially started to encourage moderation of the old fashioned favorite, especially for those 40 or older. The reason? Eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.
More specifically, black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure.
Dang-it. Not you too black licorice. Not you too.