Is there a Valentine's Day equivalent of the Scrooge? Better yet, a pink version of the Grinch who sneaks around the classroom, removing Blow Pops and Smarties and gummy fruit snacks from children's valentines? Because that's what I'd like to do.
When did candy valentines become a thing? When I was a kid, you decorated an old shoebox with paper doilies for your desk at school, and your friends dropped in valentines. Sometimes the valentines were store-bought, sometimes they were homemade cards (sometimes you got an extra-special one for an extra-special friend). You might've gotten a small box of conversation hearts that you only half-ate because they didn't taste very good anyway.
These days my kids' haul from their classroom party looks more like Trick-or-Treat than Valentines' Day. There are Fun Dip valentines and Nerds valentines and Skittles valentines. The kids are too busy tearing open the candy wrappers to even read who they're from.
Candy manufacturers have highjacked valentines, and I want them back.
Why can't simple cards be good enough anymore? Why does so much candy and junk food have to be part of every single holiday and celebration? Don't get me wrong: I like Valentine's Day as much as the next person. I buy little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for my kids, and see nothing wrong with a pink-frosted cupcake for the holiday (like these!). But I don't like food manufacturers finding yet another way to push more candy and junk onto families.
And I don't think it does our kids any good, especially the ones with life-threatening food allergies. One out of every 13 children has a food allergy (that's two per classroom). To protect students, many schools no longer allow outside food in the classroom. But plenty of parents ignore that policy on Valentine's Day and send in candy valentines anyway. That puts everyone in a bad position: Teachers don't know whether they should let kids pass them out, kids don't know if it's safe to eat, and parents are left to worry about what their kid will be eating at school that day.
If you feel the same way about candy valentines, I encourage you to talk to your child's teacher or principal and (politely!) let them know your concerns. Here's a sample email from School Bites that you can customize and send. If your child wants special valentines to hand out but you want to skip the candy, check out these 12 ideas for homemade candy-free valentines from Super Healthy Kids.
Or buy a box of store-bought valentine cards at Target and call it a day. That's what this Grinch-Mom does.
How do YOU feel about candy valentines?
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. She collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.