Strangers Poisoning Kids’ Halloween Candy – Fact or Fiction?
I was born in 1980, which means that as a kid, Halloween was pretty amazing because I grew up in the days before everyone was offended by everything. My growing up years were pretty much void of overly sensitive helicopter parents, but one thing we didn't escape from were hoaxes and one of the biggest hoaxes of my childhood was that someone may have poisoned our handy before giving it to us on Halloween night and that we might die. But where did the hoax that put fear in the hearts of our parents even come from?
I was sitting around catching up with my siblings not long ago when the subject of x-raying candy came up. You see, when I was a kid, 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 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, not noticing it was covered in a strange white substance, and then die and so, we waited.
According to the Smithsonian, the seed of fear 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 it, 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 alert and so it didn't help to quash their fears when an article written in 1995 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 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 this subject 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.