Why Synthetic Food Coloring is Like a Horror Flick

It’s that time of year when grocery store picnic and school supply aisles get restocked with rows and rows of brightly dyed Halloween candy, and new movie previews are airing every five minutes on the tube.  It almost seems too soon.  Yet there’s a crisp feel of anticipation in the morning air.  I’m admittedly a sucker for this season, and I’m a huge fan of All Hallow’s Eve.  I’ve already been planning my kid’s costume with her for weeks.  I adore a good horror flick, too, and now that I’m additive-free, I’m able to actually watch them all the way through, without the side effects listed below…

I hope you enjoy my funny take on the similarities between two sources of episodic anxiety – fake food dyes and horror films.  

I’d like to dedicate this post to the International Association of Color Manufacturers, who begin their annual conference today.

Why Synthetic Food Coloring Is Like A Horror Flick:

They can both haunt you for up to a week.  Or near constantly if you indulge often.  

The worst ones have really bad heavy metal – lead, mercury, arsenic, or Norwegian bands.

The most powerful ones can totally make you suspend your disbelief when you’re in the thick of it.

They’re well done in Europe, and have an appropriate warning label there.

They both have a back-story that can be traced back through generations, decades, or to someone’s mother.

They can both make you pee your pants.

They can keep you from sleeping and give you nightmares (on Elm Street).

They make your skin crawl (heebie-jeebies, eczema, hives, itchy rashes, feeling of spiders crawling on your insides).

They will make your kids scream at the most inappropriate and embarrassing moments.  They can also just make parents yell.  A lot.  “Nooooooo!!!! Don’t go in there!!!!”  

They make you want to hide behind the couch.  This one’s for the parents.

They sneak up when you’re having the time of your life (birthday parties, theme parks, summer camp, prom – don’t drink the punch!, making out with your high school sweetheart after drinking cheap dyed beer).

The main characters will often experience an eerie personality change.  (See “large talking bunnies”.)

People get more aggressive and violent.

Friends start to turn on one another.

Some of us very sensitive folks act as the “canary in the coal mine” for oblivious friends.  I like to call us the “I see dead people” set.

Animals always know first, in the movies and in real life.  They sense the danger of a jacked-up kid…or some lady who always wanted a blue cat.

They both often involve peer pressure.  “I double-dog dare you to go into that pantry!”

Head-spinning is par for the course and totally expected at this point.

There’s usually a (captive) audience.

They can both make you jump out of your seat.

They both waste natural resources.  Horror movies cause you to leave every light on in the house, 24/7, for a week.  Food coloring is made from petroleum, and is a totally non-nutritive, unnecessary additive.

At some point (if it’s a really bad movie) they can both make you stop paying attention.  Not unlike a zombie.

They can both make you want to upchuck.

They can both make your head hurt.  Like a twist ending that takes a few days to figure out.

They’ve both got something insidious to hide (preservatives…metals…bodies in the attic of that one creepy house…petroleum pops in the freezer).

You don’t know who the baddie is until it’s far too late.

They can both make you crave more: Suspense!  Thrills!  Chills!  “Let’s all go to the lobby…

Nobody believes you.  Until they witness it for themselves.  But by then, it’s too late.

Or is it?

Insert cliff-hanger here.

If you’re left feeling dissatisfied at the end of your Halloween treat hunt or latest theater night, I recommend a couple of places that will keep you and the kids safe while you enjoy some childhood favorites.  You can order allergy-friendly candies at Natural Candy Store and Indie Candy.  Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have lots of dye-free Halloween goodies.  Find “unjunked” versions of classics made by the Unreal Candy Company at CVS, Walgreen’s, Kroger, Michael’s craft store and others.  And Target carries some good alternatives like Florida’s Natural fruit juice nuggets in individual packets.

I’d still like to propose that Barfred Industries (the Florida company that makes fake blood), and others like them look into natural colorant alternatives for the sake of actors and actresses.  I mean I know they’re probably keeping the economy going by supplying Red #40 syrup to shows like “The Walking Dead” and “True Blood” (possibly the number 1 consumer of red petrol on the planet, and source of Anne Rice’s own vampires’ amusement).  But you just never know when some starlet could react and “accidentally” burn the whole set down.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that insurance contract negotiation.  (Is telekinesis covered?)

My nightmare is playing “Carrie” on the stage, but it’s because I’d prefer real pig’s blood to the dyed petroleum syrup.  

But, I admit, my dream would be to play alongside Ryan Gosling in “Drive”, covered in blood (him, not me).  ‘Cause day-amn, that boy looks good in anything.  But going back to the horror film theme, I actually think he’d still look good after zombies got ahold of him.  I see an “Undead Ryan Gosling” tumblr in the near future…

But I really do feel bad for the actors and actresses who are allergic to fake blood, makeup, and face paint. Helluva gig.  I’ve read about some awful allergic reactions to fake blood on the set, such as facial swelling, nausea, and hives.  (Does anybody really know what ever happened to those “Shining” twins?)

I’d like to see some experiments with beet juice, tomato juice, ANYTHING but petroleum dyes this Halloween.  If you’re successful, post up your results and a picture in the blog discussion forum, or on the Facebook page!

And in the mean time, some “duh” advice from a horror and candy snob:  Do NOT go into the candy aisle! Beware…especially in the company of children.  

“Will somebody PLEASE think of the children???!!!”

 I love this picture, just because.

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