“Bobbing for Apples”: Fun Halloween Game or Gross Germfest?

This fall tradition might just be creepier than the haunted house.

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On a candy-filled holiday, apples are a welcome guest. Not only do they provide a much-needed break from all the sugary lollipops and chocolate-covered peanuts, but apples are also great for teeth. They contain lots of water and fiber, which actually help clean the teeth, according to the American Dental Association. 

Apples definitely get a thumbs up, but what about *bobbing* for apples? It might just seem like a bin of floating Braeburns, Galas, and Granny Smiths, but when you really think about it, bobbing for apples is an activity that almost certainly lures in saliva and bacteria from every little ghoul and goblin who dunks their head in.

Plus, the Food and Drug Administration also warns of bacteria on the apples themselves that could lead to a creepy case of foodborne illness. 

So, how safe is bobbing for apples, actually?

Well, you might not need to panic too much. Millions of little monsters have bobbed for apples for centuries and survived without a horror story. (Apparently, this Halloween tradition actually started as a courting ritual in early Europe.)

But that doesn’t mean bobbing for apples is completely risk-free. For example, a child with the flu could easily spread the virus through their saliva or runny nose. If the virus gets in the tub, the water is contaminated, and other bobbers could pick it up. After all, the flu enters the body through the mouth, eyes, or nose—all of which have contact with the water when bobbing for apples.

This is why it’s important to keep your kiddo home if they’re feeling sick, even if it means missing the big Halloween bash. 

The truth is, bobbing for apples—while it seems a germfest—is probably OK for most kids. However, kids with compromised immune systems should say “no” to this spooky germ cauldron and enjoy the other Halloween activities, like pumpkin carving or painting, or making fun Halloween-themed treats.