Strangers Poisoning Kids’ Halloween Candy – Fact or Fiction?
When I was a kid, Halloween was pretty amazing because my growing up years were pretty much void of helicopter parents, but one thing we didn't escape from was hoaxes and the biggest hoax of my childhood was that someone may have poisoned our handy before giving it to us on Halloween night. Where did the hoax that put fear in the hearts of our parents even come from? I decided to find out.
I was catching up with my sister recently when we got on the topic of how we used to take our candy to be x-rayed on Halloween. You see, when we were kids, there was a chiropractic office at the top of the street where my grandparents lived and they'd open their doors on Halloween night to x-ray the candy that was collected by kids in the neighborhood. While my siblings and I thought that it was kind of cool, we didn't want to have to wait for our candy to be examined. We wanted to take it home, dump it on the floor and divvy it up. However, our parents wanted to make sure that we didn't start licking away on a Sugar Daddy laced with poison, and then die. And so, we waited.
According to the Smithsonian, the seed of fear that a stranger would taint Halloween candy was planted into the heads of parents thanks to a “Dear Abby” column which was published on October 31, 1983. Abigail Van Buren, better known as "Dear Abby" titled her column, “A Night of Treats, not Tricks.” In the article, she reminded readers that,
[s]omebody’s child will become violently ill or die after eating poisoned candy or an apple containing a razor blade.” The advice continued, “It is no longer safe to let your child eat treats that come from strangers.”
Parents were already on high alert and so when another article rolled out, fears were anything but quashed. The article came out in 1995 and was written by Ann Landers (who just so happened to be Dear Abby’s sister) called “Twisted minds make Halloween a dangerous time.” In her article, Ann Landers basically echoed what her sister, Dear Abby, had written all those years before.
Our parents bought into the articles and inspected our candy fervently, but as it turns out, our candy has been just fine all of these years. How do we know? Because the experts at the University of Delaware have been investigating the subject of tainted candy for three decades and they haven’t been able to confirm one single case of a stranger murdering a child through tainted Halloween candy.
Your kids should be perfectly fine this Halloween, just as we were. Although, it definitely never hurts to err on the side of caution and check their treats before your littles dive into sugary goodness.