Every October the tales get trotted out. Somebody knows a guy who had a cousin who knew a kid who died from poisoned Halloween candy. Parents warn their kids to not eat anything they are given that is not in a sealed manufacturer’s package.
Almost gone entirely are the days of homemade cookies, fudge, apples, popcorn balls, and other perfectly legit Halloween treats. Only weird old people who don’t know any better are still handing out “unsafe” treats, apparently unaware that the parents of those kids will just throw their offerings away.
It sounds like the candy manufacturers are all alone in the Halloween field, doesn’t it?
There may be several good reasons to not eat something homemade that is received on Halloween. But tales of poisoned or otherwise tampered treats should not be one of them.
In the 1980s, we heard it every year: vigilant parents were horrified to find apples with razor blades in them; kids were falling ill, and doctors were blaming poisoned Halloween candy. News stations carried the warnings as diligently as they reminded us to set our clocks up and back.
Malls opened their doors so that kids could have a “safe” Halloween. Churches planned parking lot Halloween events with trunks full of store-bought candies.
But the problem is, it was all bull. Only a very few incidents of candy tampering have ever been reported, and they all have been very isolated and easily discovered.
There are a couple of reports of children being poisoned by their own parents, one accidentally and one who tried to get insurance money. Those parents claimed their children got poisoned Halloween candy. They were found out and prosecuted.
Some think that one of the reasons that the 1980s saw such a rise in Halloween paranoia was due to the Tylenol poisonings in 1982. Those were real. But the ‘80s saw a lot of fear over nothing: warnings about blotter acid handed out to kids as cartoon temporary tattoos, atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair coming for your kids, and Satanist “back-masking” in the music.
It was a scary time. And it was all baloney. Even the evil old Soviet Union turned out to be a big joke. Just like KISS (“Knights In Satan’s Service”, ya know.)
Police did report an incident in 2000 where parents found Snickers wrappers stuffed with marijuana in their kids’ bags. Police traced the candy to one home, and learned that the man worked in the dead letter office for the postal service. He had found the items and brought them home to give out for Halloween, unaware that they were actually someone’s attempt at smuggling pot through the mail.