Halloween Candy Not Poisoned But May Make Kids Fat

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Following up on Jesse Walker's Halloween-themed links, I'd like to commit a public service by linking to Snopes.com's authoritative debunking of the myth of poisoned Halloween candy (for those unfamiliar with it, Snopes explores the veracity of urban legends). A snippet:

It's a sadness that a holiday so thoroughly and greedily enjoyed by kids is being sanitized out of existence in the name of safety. Sadder still is there appears to be little reason for it.

Though I've yet to find evidence of a genuine Halloween poisoning, I have uncovered a few isolated incidents initially reported as random poisonings that, upon further investigation, turned out to be something else.

That something typically turns out to be a gruesome intra-family homicide or the mad ravings of a Jack T. Chick comic-book religious tract.

Whole thing here. More Snopes on Halloween urban myths here (including info on pins, needles, and razor blades in Halloween treats–something that does actually happen from time to time, though typically as a hoax).

True tale of Halloween killjoy here.

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  1. You know how they make novelty cigarettes out of candy. A great one for Halloween would be candy shaped razor blades, syringes, “bloody” cotton candy etc.
    Heheheh

  2. The killjoys will never give up. The
    safety officer” who visited my child’s school told the kids that they must throw out any piece of candy where the packaging has gotten torn. Not because of razor blades or poison, I think it’s sinking in that those stories are hoaxes, but because if the giver of candy has a cold or flu then the germs could have spread from their hands to the candy, ergo eating any candy with torn packaging is likely to make you sick. That strike anyone as overkill?

  3. Being a killjoy means finding something wrong with every enjoyable activity, in the same way the being libertarian means picking nits in all government programs.

    It’s an enjoyable hobby to the person doing it, and as hobbies go, there’s no such thing as overkill.

  4. A “Do Not Sell Candy” list? My god, if a list like that had existed when I was little, I would have been on it, no doubt. And if I had been on that list, I would have snuffed myself at a very young age! Candy is a crutch for the weak (children). It was only when I became an adolescent that I was able to replace my reliance on candy with a much healthier choice – drugs.

  5. In Toronto – it’s always in Toronto – the school board is asking teachers not to celebrate Halloween in class, because it may be offensive to Wiccans. A suggested replacement activity: getting the kids to write health warnings for Halloween candy.

    http://tinyurl.com/au76s

    I swear to God, I’m tempted to use the Hank Hill solution from the classic “Hallelujah House” episode of King of th Hill: put on a devil costume and walk around screaming “Trick or Treat” until everyone joins me.

  6. Didn’t joe go to bat for the angry Wiccans last year?

  7. Vanya — Sounds to me like your kids’ “briefing” was simply being sanitized of controversial elements. Rather than be accused of fomenting paranoid distrust of friends and neighbors, they frame the issue in impersonal hygenic terms.

  8. Damian: We blogged a similar story last year. Unfortunately, that time it occured not in Toronto but in these United States.

  9. At least the Do Not Sell Candy list addresses an ongoing concern, rather than blowing the one night of indulgence kids get. Really, if they pork out one day a year, is it gonna kill them?

    I think the “one candy per day” message is, “Hey, you should have candy every day, not just Halloween”.

    So smacky’s anti-candy is drugs, and mine is alcohol. What’s your anti-candy?

  10. When did the holiday get so damn cute and cuddly? Trying to find decorations this year that were actually you know, scary, was next to impossible. All I could find was smiling scarecrows, cute little ghosts and sweet skeletons. Thank god for the creepy Goth kids at Spencer?s Gifts. They hooked me up with an awesome severed leg and a head on a pike.

    I remember when parents lived to scare the shit out of kids on Halloween. The old chainless chainsaw scare is almost a lost art. Now it’s just sad. They take them out to tricker treat when it’s still light out and give you dirty looks when you jump out of a tree and make their little spawn crap their pants. But, I’m keeping it real this year. I found a mask so scary that kids will run screaming form my door. My deal is I let them grab all the candy they want. But they have to earn the right.

    Enjoy your Sweet Tarts kids – and your posttraumatic flashbacks.

  11. Sandy-

    caffeine.

  12. Damien P., I asked my Wiccan secretary if it’s OK with her if the kiddies of Toranto celebrate Halloween. She said, ‘Sure, that’s OK with me.’ So go, go have fun all of you little Torantlings.

  13. Here’s a nice story of Halloween hysteria to make you libertarian blood run cold. This one has all the boos in the right parts.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1253920

    Cue Peter Lorre.

  14. Sandy,

    Well, drugs were my anti-candy, along with cigarettes, in high school and early college. Then heavy drinking became my “anti-candy”. Then libertarianism. Now, it’s candy again. Back at square one at this point.

    [/typed with a mouth full of strawberry Pop Rocks]

  15. But as an aside, how unlibertarian of a parent do you have to be to put your child on a “Do Not Sell Candy” list? My parents were horribly restrictive when I was growing up, but they never told me what I could or couldn’t eat (unless I was picking dirty Cheerios off the floor as a baby…they objected to that). At the same time, I had awful eating habits, since I had no restrictions….thankfully the “meat market” eventually worked my eating habits out for me. I only hope I don’t develop diabetes or something from my horrible eating habits as a youngster.

  16. I swear to God, I’m tempted to use the Hank Hill solution from the classic “Hallelujah House” episode of King of th Hill…

    We had one of those gorram things pop up in our neighborhood the last couple of years. The fundies even took out radio ads selling it as a “real house of horrors” and not mention the religious propaganda (e.g. representations of gays, atheists, and women who have abortions all going to Hell) until the suckers actually got in the door.

    I haven’t heard hide nor hair of them this year. In fact I haven’t heard or seen any ads for the “legit” haunted houses this autumn either. Maybe I just missed them.

  17. I remember when parents lived to scare the shit out of kids on Halloween.

    That was your parents. Today’s soccer parents don’t want their dear little brats to be traumatized lest they don’t become laywers or surgeons who can afford to take care of them when they retire.

  18. I went through a haunted house on Saturday. By far, the most disturbing thing I saw that day were the giant posterboards of aborted babies that protesters were holding outside of a local abortion clinic early in the morning. This was not in the haunted house, in case you were wondering.

  19. That was your parents. Today’s soccer parents don’t want their dear little brats to be traumatized lest they don’t become lawyers or surgeons who can afford to take care of them when they retire.

    Actually the cool thing was it was every parent in the neighborhood. Except for the old people who gave you pennies. But they were pretty creepy in their own right. It was the one night all the parents banded together to mess with your head. And that’s what kids today need more than ever.

    I think the problem the fundies and fun cops have with Halloween is that it has no deeper meaning than just having fun. They can’t deal with it. It doesn’t compute. Therefore it must be sanitized and Christianized.

  20. So smacky’s anti-candy is drugs, and mine is alcohol. What’s your anti-candy?

    Impure thoughts.

    Gotta go. Can’t type.

  21. For me, Halloween is a chance to stare death, in all it’s mystery and ultimate horror, right in the maggot-filled eye socket… and have some fun in spite of it. That’s what hacks me off the most about the fun spoilers (both religious and secular). They’re standing in the way of a much needed release for the human psyche.

  22. I think the problem the fundies and fun cops have with Halloween is that it has no deeper meaning than just having fun.

    I think it does have a deeper meaning, but it’s one i don’t think they like. Halloween gives us a chance to look death, with it’s mystery and horror, right in it’s maggot-filled eyesocket and have so fun at it’s expense. I think it’s a need release for our pent up fears and anxities about our ultimate fate. We need to scare ourselves, then laugh at it afterwards.

    Fundies and fun cops (fundies in particular) don’t want us to parody death; Ignoring death is their stock and trade. For the fun cop, death is something we can avoid entirely if we just make everyone exercise and eat right. For the fun cop, Death is something that’s too serious to laugh at. To them, it’s a dirty word.

    On the other hand, the fundie prefers self-delusion in their denial of death. When we die, we’ll transcend this material existance and dwell forever in utopian Heaven with JEZ-us, provided we don’t have nonprocrative sex, not skip-out of Sunday services, or vote Democrat. Since it doesn’t provide such a pleasent view of death, in their dualistic, either-or worldview Halloween with it’s skeletons, vampires, ghosts, and zombies must be the domain of Satan.

  23. Whoops, ignore that first draft, I didn’t think it went through.

  24. Thoreau, Akira:

    you two were also on your games last year. kudos. or would it be “kangs”?

    anyways, that was a fun thread last year.

    Thinking about last year’s discussion, there are some issues where I do agree with Joe. When I was in Denmark and there was a show depicting an “American”, I was treated as though I was that character, including getting snarky comments during meetings or having my working papers thrown out because “Americans just don’t know this stuff”.

    A Mexican buddy of mine always got the Speedy Gonsales treatment, too. A fellow in a business power tie on the 14 bus actually started trying to talk like that to him. amazing. and that behavior was, in my experience, socially acceptable. This was in early 1999.

    That said, Halloween or celebrations ere the day of death or of the saints shouldn’t drive people crazy who assumed the holiday for themselves later. basically what thoreau noted last year.

    Finally, i don’t see any solution at present save for the case-by-case basis. Realize that there are assholes of all stripes out there. But if you’re in good faith celebrating halloween or good faith joking around with buddies, where’s the harm?

    there is a difference in all of this, but i don’t see how official policy solutions could solve anything. afterall assholes will remain assholes. i’m sure we can find an example of those types on this thread – you know, insult then whine… 🙂 heh!

  25. Hangen does most of her work with overweight children between the ages of 9 and 15. She encourages families to establish a game in which kids trade in candy for points to be redeemed for nonfood treats.

    Hey, they’re not beating the fun out of childhood-they’re teaching them commodity trading!

  26. Akira,

    When I said it didn’t have a deeper meaning I misspoke. It most certainly does have a deeper meaning as you pointed out. What I meant to say is it doesn’t mark the day a magic sky baby was born or the day a magic sky man went back to the mother ship. It doesn’t teach us any lessons, or honor any interest group. It is a day that exists simply because it addresses a base human need and that drives some people crazy.

  27. I honestly never got the anti-Halloween sentiment. I grew up in a family of very devout Catholics and we all had a blast every Halloween. To us it was all just an excuse to have parties, mooch candy and generally act weird. For Chrissakes, my church/parish even sponsored an annual Halloween party for the smaller children! (Must be part of that Satanic-Papist conspiracy, heh heh heh…)

  28. I’m not talking about ole’ time religious folks or your run of the mill Catholic or Presby. They like to have a good time and get weird as much as the next guy. What’s the point of repentance if you have nothing to repent?

    The ones that drive me nuts are the new touchy feely breed of evangelicals that seem to dovetail in so nicely with the nanny staters. They both live to tell everyone else how to live and suck the fun out of everything. Together they form the alliance of killjoys that is strangling Halloween to death.

  29. “Together they form the alliance of killjoys that is strangling Halloween to death.”

    … as long as little Halloween isnt’ a fetus, of course…

  30. … as long as little Halloween isnt’ a fetus, of course…

    …or a brain-dead Christian woman…

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