by kimgerber on 10/24/2010

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What creeps you out the most on Halloween?  Goblins and witches?  Spiders and ghouls?  Or is it the load of processed, corn syrup-laden, artificially flavored “treats” that will fill your children’s smiling plastic jack-o-lanterns?  Bet I can scare you even more.   Did you know that some of those well known candies they’ll be  ingesting contain ingredients like TBHQ (a form of Butane)?  TBHQ, believe it or not, is an ingredient in many processed food items ranging from candy to chicken nuggets.  The following excerpt from author Michael Pollan discusses TBHQ in regards to it’s placement in a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget:

“But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to “help preserve freshness.” According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”
Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)

Did that spook some Halloween fear into you?  When our kids come home after an evening of tricking and treating, we can offer them a fresh, more natural alternative than what’s mischievously hiding within their smiling plastic pumpkins.  This week we will deconstruct two Halloween candy staples: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (which contain TBHQ) and Nestle Crunch.

**Note:  TBHQ is also contained in the Eggo Buttermilk Waffles we previously deconstructed.  See LEGGO O’ THE EGGO


THE COMPARISON: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Nestle Crunch vs. Out of the Box Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats & Out of the Box Dark Chocolate Crispy Bars

(All ingredients followed by an * can be referenced at by clicking on the ingredient)


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups


  • milk chocolate (sugar; cocoa butter; chocolate; nonfat milk; milk fat; lactose; soy lecithin*; PGPR*, emulsifier)
  • peanuts
  • sugar
  • dextrose*
  • salt
  • TBHQ* (preservative)


Nestle Crunch Bar


**All listed product ingredients are taken from product’s package label.  Though Out of the Box Food makes every effort to provide complete ingredient information, please check the package for the most current information.


Out of the Box Food Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats


Time: 1 hour 15 min. (includes chilling time)

Serves: 24 Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats

Special Equipment: mini paper baking cups, mini muffin pan (optional) double boiler (or small sauce pan with heat proof bowl)


  • 10.5 oz 72 % chocolate, broken into pieces (we used Trader Joe’s 72% Cacao bar)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C powdered confectioners sugar


  • Line mini muffin tin (if using) with paper baking cups.
  • In a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl set over a pan of boiling water), melt butter and 2/3 of the chocolate until just melted, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in remaining chocolate until melted.
  • With a pastry brush, “paint” a bit of melted chocolate into each paper baking cup, covering entire cup.  TIP: hold baking cups in hand for easier paining, then return to muffin tin.  If not using a mini muffin tin,  place painted baking cups on cookie sheet.
  • Leave remaining melted chocolate over the warm water for later use.
  • Refrigerate painted cups for 15-20 minutes.

Step 2

  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix peanut butter and powdered sugar.
  • Remove chocolate covered baking cups from refrigerator.
  • Spoon peanut butter mixture in baking cups, filling to 3/4 full.
  • Spoon remaining melted chocolate over the peanut butter to cover, then let sit until hardened or refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chocolate solidifies.

*Note:  Store in an airtight container.  If you refrigerate the finished candies, it is best to store them in the refrigerator.


Out of the Box Dark Chocolate Crispy Bars

Time: 10 minutes

Special Equipment: 8×8″ square pan, parchment paper, double boiler (or small sauce pan with heat proof bowl)


  • 10.5 oz 70% chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 C brown rice crispy cereal (Not Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, please check ingredient list)


  • Line 8×8 pan with parchment.
  • Over double boiler (heat proof bowl over pan of boiling water), melt butter and 2/3 of the chocolate until just melted.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in remaining chocolate.
  • Stir in crispy rice.
  • Pour chocolate mixture into parchment lined pan and smooth with the back of the spoon.
  • Leave at room temperature to cool, or you can refrigerate to quickly solidify.  Lift parchment from pan and cut chocolate into bars.

**Note:  Store in an airtight container.  If using refrigeration to quickly solidify chocolate, candies should then be stored in the refrigerator.


I’m going to try something I’ve never done this year: read the ingredients on my children’s Halloween candy.  Then I’m going to tell them about TBHQ offer a bowl of our homemade treats.   Now I’m not promoting the consumption of sugar (though I feel a little real sugar is okay), I am just strongly against the consumption of Butane.   Until next week…

© 2010 – 2011, kimgerber. All rights reserved.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ji September 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I stopped eating Hershey’s & Reese’s ever since I discovered the TBHQ and PCPG ingredients. I did buy Nestle’s because its more natural, but I feel a bit sickly after I eat it. I think that may be from the artificial flavour ingredient. But Nestle’s is probably more healthier than the chemicals in Hershey’s, Reese’s, Cadbury, and others.

Hannaford’s makes a good Peanut Butter Cup. So does Paul Newman’s. They taste much better than Reese’s and I don’t feel sick and shaky after I eat them.

Its a shame that Hershey’s contaminated their product with these cheap ingredients. I won’t eat anything from them. No more Cadbury’s for me. Cadbury’s was once a great chocolate imported from England until Hershey’s bought them out in the US. Yuck.

I care about my health. And there is no way I could even give the children these Hershey’s contaminated chocolate bars, knowing how bad the chemicals are.

Its too bad, because I was a huge buyer of Hershey’s once upon a time. No more. I wrote a letter to them asking to stop using the toxin ingredients. They wrote back and told me I should try their Dark Chocolate–I’m like NO WAY–Hershey’s Dark Chocolate tastes disgusting…I will stick to my organic Dark Chocolate that is made the proper way, no chemicals, and the Cacao Beans are grown in good conditions, naturally. El Rey was the first organic chocolate I started eating on a regular basis back in 2000.

El Rey (Venezuela)
Newman’s Own
Green & Black’s
Equal Exchange
Valrhona (France) *not sure if its organic or not, but its good.

Oh…And now that I found out that Hershey’s bought out Scharffen Berger Chocolate, I will stay away from that brand. I don’t trust them.


Medifast Coupons October 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Here is another one for you to look up and be shocked to find in toddlers first crunchy food that we have all been victims of feeding to our little ones. Cheerios contains the all-purpose cleaner T.S.P, which we also use to preserve our dearly departed. Trust me it is true! Read up on it and post.


kimgerber October 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Can you believe that? We feed these food items to our kids because we think if they’re promoted as healthy, then they probably are. Unfortunately we can not simply believe the advertising. We have to read the labels. Thank you for sharing. I will indeed do some research on the Cheerios. Stay tuned for an Out of the Box Food Cheerios deconstruct in the near future!


Roberto October 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm

TSP (trisodium phosphate could actually be classified as a nutritional supplement, as it can improve certain aspects of exercise performance. Also, I can’t find anything about it being used to preserve dead human beings. In food, it is used to regulate the acidity. Please do not assume that ingredients with other, very different uses other than food are not safe when used in food. Do your research next time, and don’t take every long word as a harmful toxin that is bad for you.


Mary Solis October 24, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Again, another great post Kim! We can’t do the peanut butter cup one because of allergy issues but will try the crispy bars. Do you have a recommendation for cereal either at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods?

Meantime, thanks again for the work you are putting into this topic and blog .. I personally may not have the will power to make all needed changes but at the very least you give me pause when I am in the market and making shopping choices.

Your work is also generally so important given the new scary predictions that as many as 1 in 3 US adults could have diabetes by 2050. … our kids need to grow up knowing about healthy foods as they come of age during the obesity epidemic happening in so many communities. Thanks again for providing good information and alternatives!

Here’s the link for the new stats reported this wk:,0,7609066.story


kimgerber October 25, 2010 at 9:52 am

Thank you, Mary. I too read that statistic and am hopeful that with parents becoming more aware of the food they give their children, we can make a small difference in that projected statistic. At least we can try.
I used a crispy rice cereal from Whole Foods by Erewhon. It is Erewhon’s Crispy Brown Rice cereal. It’s only ingredients are:organic brown rice and organic barley malt. I will also check to see if Trader Joe’s has a brand with few, simple ingredients and get back to you. Kellog’s Rice Krispies has about 16 ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup.
Thanks again for your great comment and for the LA Time’s link!


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