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Back to School Sweets: Add a Little Fun Flavor to the Lunchbox!

A turkey sandwich with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, on white bread. A small bag of barbeque chips. A can of Pepsi. Every day. Without fail. For years. This is what my lunch contained. How I didn’t have a full-blown meltdown in the lunch room, throwing my turkey sandwich dramatically into the air while the world went all slow-motion-y I’ll never know. The lunchbox was not designed for these sorts of Groundhog Day events to occur. It’s practically a present! Every day for 180 days a year, millions of children across the country sit down at a table and slowly open their lunchbox or lunch bag, hoping that something amazing is inside. Fingers cross quietly as their lunch loot for the day is revealed. And while they may each have their own ideas about lunch bliss, there’s a common trait they all share. Each of them is hoping there’s not a soggy turkey sandwich inside.

In my mother’s defense, I never complained about my lunch. I’m not sure it occurred to me I could ask for something different. I accepted the turkey sandwich as my destiny. And to be fair, it did keep me full through the school day, and was fairly nutritious, two important things to consider when packing a lunch for your kids. But it did not make me smile. I did not regard it as a welcome treat after a long morning of advanced math classes and an overly environmentally-conscious science teacher who showered just once a week, rather noticeably mind you! My eyes did not light up the way they might have were there Gummy Butterflies flitting about my lunchbox when I opened it (use your imagination, people!).

As with everything, enjoying candy as part of a balanced diet is about just that – balance. In our recent Candy vs. Cola post we highlighted how much less sugar is in one serving of several popular candies compared to one serving of a handful of soda favorites. We aren’t suggesting that you replace a real slice of pizza with Gummy Pizza for lunch, rather that a small and sweet something waiting in the bottom of the bag can be a bright spot.

Not sure which candies to include? We’ve put together a list of delicious ideas that will also help you to keep it cheap!


  • Nik-L-Nip Wax Bottles – This classic candy comes with the best directions for enjoyment right on the bag – Bite ‘em, Drink ‘em, Chew ‘em! Some schools don’t allow gum on school grounds, so this can be something flavorful for your kids to chew for a few minutes following lunch without risking detention! And with an 18 pack bag, with 5 wax bottles in each pack, costing just $14.40, you can give them 2 Nik-L-Nips a day for just about a quarter.

  • Tootsie Pop Drops – Never had the patience to count the licks to the center? Forego the game altogether with Tootsie Pop Drops! While the name alone is cool enough – reminds me of some dance the kids might’ve been doing in the 50s – the candy is even better. Tiny tootsies going sans stick are tucked inside a pouch ready to be savored. At 80 cents a pack these may not make their way into every lunch, but as a once-or-twice-a-week treat will give your kid something tasty to enjoy while having enough to share with a friend. (By the way…we did have the patience to take the Tootsie Pop Challenge!)

  • Laffy Taffy Ropes – Add an element of mystery to their mid-day meal by choosing the white mystery flavor of Laffy Taffy! I always adored the ‘mystery flavors’ of candy and gum as a kid, and still find them super fun now. The only time I won’t choose the mystery flavor when offered a Dum Dum Pop is when I see a butterscotch pop in the mix. They’re just too tasty! Laffy Taffy Ropes are a quarter apiece, and Dum Dum Pops are less than a nickel apiece! Looks like choosing yum yum Dum Dums is Smart Smart for your wallet. :)

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