Halloween Candy: Delicious or Dangerous?
Halloween is all about spooky things, from eerie pumpkins to cobweb-filled haunted houses. One thing that isn’t supposed to be scary, though, is Halloween candy. Yet every year, worried parents hear rumors of candy getting mixed with dangerous substances like razor blades, broken glass, or even drugs or poison. Are these rumors real?
Legend or Truth?
According to Snopes, a website known for debunking popular legends, tainted candy shouldn’t be the biggest of your Halloween fears. While they acknowledge that Halloween candy has led to a handful of deaths in recent decades, they note that the culprit isn’t who we would expect. While the rumors are based in the idea that a random strange is maliciously handing out dangerous candy to innocent children, Snopes provides a few examples that prove otherwise.
The most well-known example dates back to Halloween of 1974. In Houston, a boy died after ingesting cyanide-laced Pixie Sticks. The candy of two of his trick-or-treating companions was also poisoned. His death lead to nation-wide fears of poisoned candy. It was later discovered, however, that no one in the neighborhood handed out Pixie Sticks that night. Instead, the deadly candy had come from the boy’s own father, who was hoping to collect his son’s life insurance. To cover his tracks, the father had also given the tainted candy to the two other children, hoping it would make his crime look like the works of a random killer.
Other cases tell similar stories. Sometimes, the deaths are accidental — for example, a young child died in 1970 after coming into contact with heroin— and then blamed on tainted candy to cover for a relative’s drug use. In others, the deaths haven’t been related to candy at all, but rather caused by other health issue that, coincidentally, struck on Halloween.
The only case that actually involves a stranger handing out dangerous candy to kids occurred all the way back in 1964. That year, a woman, fed-up with teenage trick-or-treaters, handed out ant poison. In this case, she informed the teens that the treats were a joke, but was still charged with child endangerment. Other than this, there have been no reports of strangers attempting to harm children via tainted Halloween candy.
How to Keep Halloween Candy Safe
As these examples show, the dangerous candy usually comes from inside a child’s own home, not from a stranger. But rumors aside, it is still a good idea to be safe when it comes to Halloween candy. When your child gets home after trick-or-treating, go through their loot with them. Look for signs of tampering, such as wrappers with tears, holes, or discoloration, and avoid candy without wrappers entirely. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
Remember, candy doesn’t have been be poisoned to cause issues! If your child has allergies, be extra cautious, and don’t let them consume any homemade goods. For smaller children, toss any candy that might be a choking hazard, like gumballs or small pieces of hard candy.
It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any cyanide or razor blades this Halloween. But even so, it is important to be cautious. After all, candy consumption is one of the best things about Halloween — don’t let anyone take that away from you!
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