By BEN R. WILLIAMS
Halloween, my favorite holiday, is fast approaching! It’s that magical time of year when the weather starts to turn chilly, youngsters begin putting together their spooky costumes, and law enforcement agencies across the land issue press releases warning parents to check and make sure their children’s Halloween candy isn’t poisoned or psychedelic.
You’ve probably seen a few of those press releases, or at least a few Facebook posts on the topic. Some of the warnings are the same ones I remember from when I was a kid, tales of poisoned candy or caramel apples riddled with razor blades (although I’ve never gotten a satisfactory explanation for how someone could push a razor blade into an apple deep enough to conceal it without doing themselves grievous harm as well). Other warnings have been modernized, alerting the populace that evildoers will be handing out marijuana edibles that look just like candy to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.
If you’re deeply concerned that your children will receive tainted candy on Halloween night, I have some excellent news! The odds that your child will receive poison candy from a random madman are equal to the odds that they’ll be attacked by a Bigfoot while wandering the suburbs.
That is to say, neither of these things have ever happened.
It may seem unimaginable, but there has never been a single recorded case of a crazy person randomly poisoning children’s Halloween candy. Not one! So how did this myth get started?
While the myth existed as far back as the 1960s and possibly earlier, the most famous case of poisoned Halloween candy occurred in 1974, when a young boy died on Halloween night after eating cyanide-laced Pixie Stix. Tragically, it quickly became apparent that the treats were poisoned by his own father, who wanted to cash in on his son’s life insurance policy and make the death seem like the work of a random evildoer.
Four years earlier in 1970, a five-year-old died of a heroin overdose after eating tainted Halloween candy. Sadly, it turned out that he had accidentally gotten into his uncle’s heroin stash, and when the family realized he’d overdosed, they sprinkled the drug on the child’s candy after the fact to protect the uncle.
There have been other unusual cases, like the 1991 death of a 31-year-old Washington D.C. man who died after eating some of his child’s Halloween candy. Parents throughout D.C. threw out their children’s candy … and then it was determined that the man’s death wasn’t candy-induced, but a case of coincidental heart failure.
Perhaps the strangest case occurred in 2000 in a town in California, when parents discovered that their children had received little packets of marijuana made up to resemble Snickers bars. The illicit goods were traced back to a truly baffled homeowner who had no idea what had happened. As it turns out, the homeowner was a postal employee who had snagged a box of Snickers bars from the dead letter office at work and decided to hand them out to trick-or-treaters, assuming (like anyone would) that they were actually Snickers bars and not bags of pot.
While I suppose there’s a first time for everything, there has never been an actual verified case of a lunatic handing out tainted Halloween candy. Additionally, I cannot begin to imagine why anyone would buy expensive marijuana edibles and then hand them out to unsuspecting children. There are far cheaper and more logical ways to get arrested.
Having said all this, I still encourage parents to go through their children’s Halloween candy at the end of the night. Because it’s important to filter out the granola bars, toothbrushes, and boxes of raisins.
The folks who give those out to trick-or-treaters are the REAL monsters.