Column: The dreaded 'Devil's Triangle,' redefined

Around Halloween, spooks and spirits of all types lurk at every turn -- but who knew that one of the season's scariest elements happens to be what you're gobbling?...

Around Halloween, spooks and spirits of all types lurk at every turn -  but who knew that one of the season’s scariest elements happens to be what you’re gobbling?

Yes, friends, I speak of those bountiful bags of goodies bursting with “fun- or snack-size” candy bought from late August on, all in the name of stocking your pumpkin bowls for “fun-sized” trick-or-treaters at the dead end of October.

Setting aside recent news reports and national “job interviews” of general interest, it turns out the most dangerous “devil’s triangle” is neither a drinking game nor a sex act but a food affair: namely, sugar, fat and salt.

An Oct. 30, 2018, Time magazine article by Jamie Ducharme detailed how that particular demonic threesome sucks in -  well, almost everyone, if you’re being honest - and virtually guarantees you’ll eat more candy than you’d planned, piece after sweet, sticky, unsatisfying piece.

Here’s the good news: It’s not your fault! You are hereby absolved from whatever guilt you harbor for having had to return (maybe more than once) to Walgreens to restore your candy supply to its original status because you couldn’t keep your hands, mouth and teeth away from it.


Blame it all on sugar, fat and salt, an irresistible combination the human palate finds utterly addictive. Isn’t it a relief to discover the culprit of your secret vice?

Some years ago, I read Dr. David A. Kessler’s “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite,” which was first published in 2009. Kessler describes in fascinating detail how the food industry engineers products to lure in consumers and orchestrate cravings that will generate profits (but inevitably pack on the pounds and create health concerns).

Think, for instance, of the newly released data showing that one in three Americans buys (and presumably eats) fast food EACH DAY! Kessler reveals how even the compelling scent wafting from your favorite burger-and-fries joint is purposeful, positioned to draw you in to that oh-so-easy drive-through lane for a quick meal or snack that most likely is sorely lacking in low-calorie, high-fiber, nutritionally meaningful fare.

Those piles of Skittles, Mounds bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Butterfingers and mini M & Ms still sitting on your countertop (because you had three times fewer trick-or-treaters than you optimistically anticipated) really are calling your name.

Their overpowering blend of sugar, fat and salt was specifically designed to make it difficult, if not impossible at times, for you to say no - or even, enough.

Unfortunately, the questionable nutrition and unwanted extra calories they provide can’t be as easily explained away - they’re real, and are bound to stick with you long past Thanksgiving if you don’t realize they’re out to get you and set a strategy for resistance.

Grab an apple; leave around a few beautiful bananas; peel an orange for something sweeter but less potentially toxic; heck, scoop out a ripe avocado and revel in its rich creaminess without filling up on all that guilt.

Or, simply give in, polish off that stash and then get on with it. If a few creeping pounds threaten to give you away, just offer this highly legitimate excuse: The devil made me do it.

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