Switch Witch Lore

What to do with the trick-or-treat harvest? As the alternative to a candy orgy, one possibility is to bring in a mythological character known as the Switch Witch, who kindly carries away the Halloween swag on her broomstick. That sounds awkward, but hey, Santa makes his rounds in a chariot mounted on a pair of skis and pulled by a few puny flying deer. (Needless to say, almost all imaginary beings travel by air.)

In another way, the Switch Witch is different from Santa, because, with her, there are no freebies. Like the Tooth Fairy, she will take something away — in this case, the Halloween swag — either all of it, or a percentage agreed upon in advance of the date, between the children and the parents. “The more they give the Switch Witch, the better their toy will be,” writes Genevieve Howland, who goes on to flesh out the narrative:

This only happens once every year, because the switch witch eats all of the little boys and girls’ candy over the course of the whole year. Then, just as she starts to run out of candy, it’s Halloween time again — time for another visit from the Switch Witch.

The Switch Witch has been around for a while, swapping sweets for gifts, and incidentally, for a childhood with fewer dentist visits than might otherwise have been needed. (How many dentist visits she herself requires, and how she keeps her figure, are not known.) Of course, we don’t want children to be genuinely terrified, so some parents call her by other names instead, like the Candy Fairy, Pumpkin Fairy, or Halloween Fairy.

An ambitious and forward-looking parent might sort the swapped candy and keep items that will look good later, on a Christmas gingerbread house. In Howland’s comment section, one parent particularly advised against keeping any neon-colored candy, which apparently contains even more than the average amount of ugly ingredients. One mom wrote,

I have mine leave their candy in their buckets on the front porch before bed. The toys, books, socks, juice, or whatever I put in them is there in their bucket the next morning.

Many parents support the custom because they are not willing to deprive their kids of the trick-or-treat fun. Some maintain the facade by buying surprise gifts, while others simply acknowledge there is no witch, and take the kids shopping to choose their own gifts.

Lisa Steinke, who also has written about the Switch Witch, quoted a fan named Barbara, who said,

I have never thought it particularly healthy to encourage gluttony by bringing home pillow cases and bags overflowing with candy! With my kids, it always seemed as if the more they got, the more they wanted…

Steinke suggests first telling children about the Switch Witch, then asking them to decide what proportion of their Halloween Night collection they are willing to give up. Or the parent simply decrees the age rule: They get to keep one piece of candy for every year old they are. Steinke writes,

Have your child write a note to the Switch Witch asking for the toy(s) she wants. After the trick-or-treating is over, help your child prepare the candy for the Switch Witch. After your child goes to sleep, exchange the candy for the toy(s).
Tip: Throw it out immediately so your child doesn’t find it and so you don’t eat it!

Another thing the mythical witch might do is sell her haul of candy to a local dentist, who sends it to active-duty military personnel stationed overseas.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Switch Witch (Save Your Kids From Halloween Candy Madness),” MamaNatural.com, 12/05/19
Source: “Switch Witch: Good or bad idea?,” SheKnows.com, 10/19/12
Image by Kana Natsuno/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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