Friday, October 15, 2010

Candy Tax

Washington State recently expanded their sales tax to bottled water, soft drinks, and candy.  Now the American Beverage Association has spent over $14 million on ads in an attempt to pass Initiative 1107, repealing the tax.  But should we?

The ads point out the disparity between similar items that are taxed or untaxed.  It's true that the disparities get ridiculous when Snickers bars are taxed while Twix bars are exempt.  (The reason?  Foods containing flour are not defined as candy.*)  But look at some of items whose status the ads question:

--"Yogurt" covered raisins:  According to the USDA, yogurt confectioner's coating is 62% sugar.
--Fruit Snacks: most fruit snacks are made of corn syrup, sugar, water, and gelatin--the same recipe as gummy worms.
--Honey Roasted Peanuts: According the Planter's website, 28 g of peanuts contain 2 g of added sugar.  They're covered in sugar, honey, and corn syrup--i.e. candy.

The problem isn't that Washington State is mistaking these items for candy.  It's that the rest of us have forgotten what's candy and what isn't.  And that, in consequence, we might eat a lot more of it than we think we do.

*The official definition of candy, as printed in the Seattle Times: "Any preparation of sugar, honey or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients or flavorings in the forms of bars, drops, or pieces. The term candy does not include any preparation containing flour as an ingredient."

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