The poisoned trick-or-treats may be false, but it could still happen
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
We always learned never to take candy from strangers. Yet, every year on October 31 children walk door-to-door doing exactly that.
This rule of never taking candy from strangers I think is a sensible one. There is a possibility that someone could try to hurt children via candy, which is why parents check their kids’ trick-or-treating hauls to make sure none of the candy has been tampered with by poison or razor blades. But how many times have we actually found something sinister in our goodie bags? I’m willing to bet never. Besides parents using this fear as an excuse to eat their children’s Halloween candy, there is no evidence that this is based on a true trick-or-treating experience. In fact, it’s nothing but a fearmongering urban legend.
Sure, some kids may have been poisoned by candy in the past, but there has never been a documented case of a child being poisoned by candy they received from a stranger while trick-or-treating. Dr. Joel Best, a professor of sociology at the University of Delaware has been trying for many years to finally disprove this age-old myth. He says after doing extensive research reading newspaper articles about kids becoming sick from candy on Halloween, he found that they are all hoaxes. No child has become sick or died from candy that was given to them by a stranger on Halloween. In fact, in cases where a child did die, they did so because of a prior health problem or from candy that was given to them by a family member.
These candy myths may be false, but there is a nugget of truth to the rumours. The fear of poisoned treats began in 1982 when a string of deaths were attributed to Tylenol tablets that were spiked with cyanide. Since this happened before Halloween, many people were still on-edge that there might still be someone trying to poison people. According to the Washington Post, about 40 cities cancelled Halloween that year and hospitals offered to x-ray candy for fear of metal objects.
Another case that contributed to this candy fear mongering is the “trick-or-treat murderer” of 1974 after an eight-year-old boy died after eating cyanide-laced candy. It turned out that his own father was the one who had poisoned him in order to take out a life-insurance policy.
Closer to home, in 2001 a Vancouver girl died unexpectantly after eating some Halloween candy, prompting police to tell parents to throw away all their candy. It turned out that the girl died because of an infection, but the fear of poisoned candy still looms over every trick-or-treating child.
Very rarely do strangers tamper or try to poison kids’ Halloween candy; that being said, I think it’s still good to be paranoid about this kind of stuff. While there may not be any real, documented cases, I believe there is some truth to it. Though it may only be a fear-mongering myth, just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it never will. Even if these stories are all just myths, I don’t think parents should let their guard down and as a safety precaution should always check their child’s candy.