Free-Range Kids

No One Is Wasting Their Ecstasy on Your Kids' Halloween Candy

The myth of the candy poisoner


Dear police: Can you please stop telling parents to check their kids' Halloween candy for drugs?

Urging tens of millions of Americans to look for something that isn't there is completely pointless, yet every Halloween, the authorities do this.

Then again, maybe worrying about outrageously unlikely crimes is just something the government does. I once met an FBI employee whose job was to warn school bus drivers about possible terrorist hijackings. She and I were both speakers at a school bus driver convention. (The glamorous life of a thought leader.)

Every year, some police department makes it into the news cycle by warning about drugs disguised as candy. They do this without ever mentioning that if you like drugs enough to buy them, you probably don't want to give them away to someone who will not pay for them, will not appreciate them, and most likely will not even be around when they ingest them, meaning you'll miss all the fun of watching them.

Nevertheless, the Auburn, Georgia, police posted to Facebook a photo of a whole bunch of ecstasy they seized in a "traffic-related incident." Note that this was not a Halloween-related incident, yet somehow it has migrated into a parental warning.

"As you can see the ecstasy looks like candy, little frog heads in all different colors," the department wrote. "Please make sure to speak with your children and educate them about suspicious candy-like substances."

The Fox News report on this incident added, "It's unknown how the person was planning on distributing the suspected drugs." Which is code for: The person did not mention Halloween, so we will just leave the connection (which does not seem to exist) ambiguous.

The report then leaps three years back to a 2018 incident when, indeed, two kids were hospitalized after eating Halloween candy laced with meth. Which is like reminding parents that while most of the time their kids are safe at Disney World, there was that one alligator attack.

What no one has ever done, as far as we know, is kill a stranger's kid with poisoned Halloween candy. So this kind of article is not journalism, it's horror-story fan fiction disguised as a service piece.

"Thank you for being vigilant with your child's safety," wrote the Auburn police on Facebook.

But desperately hunting through your kids' candy for Ecstasy is not being vigilant. It's being gullible, goaded into worry by articles that pretend that good parents have to go through the motions of hyper vigilance to keep their kids safe.

NEXT: This Woman Served 11 Years in Prison on a Marijuana Charge. She's Been Sent Back Over a Clerical Error.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Trick or treat,
    No mean tweets,
    Biden backers gulp his skeet.

    1. Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening…FRh And i get surly a check of $12600 what’s awesome is I m working from home so I get more time with my kids.

      Try it, you won’t regret it........VISIT HERE

      1. I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily. simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing.

        Try now……………… READ MORE

  2. I check my kid's candy not for drugs, but so I can steal the best stuff.

    1. Sarc steals candy from babies.

      1. Oh, a game of telephone!

        Sarc steals babies.

        1. Fun!
          Sarc steals candy from kids' bags, leaves them with the drugs.

        2. Sarc seals ladies.

    2. Right? Police giving me a bs excuse for this is one of their few actually vital functions in society! Stop being a wet blanket, Reason!

    3. Hey Guys, I know you read many news comments and posts to earn money online jobs. Some people don’t know how to earn money and are saying to fake it. You trust me. I just started this 4 weeks ago. I’ve got my FIRST check total of $3850, pretty cool. I hope you tried it.TVf You don’t need to invest anything. Just click and open the page to click the first statement and check jobs .. ..

      Go Here..............Earn App

  3. "But desperately hunting through your kids' candy for Ecstasy is not being vigilant. "

    My advice: It's not a bad idea for a responsible care giver to have a look at the Halloween treats and see if there's anything suspicious.

    1. Are you one of those who assumes every white van is being driven by a child molester?

      1. Hmmm? I'm guessing you drive a white van.

        1. That's Buttplug. He's the creepy child-porn poster.
          Sarcasmic is just a wife-beating drunk.

          1. They carpool.

      2. Show username - Fats of Fury.

        Dude, you're on permamute. Any replies to my posts are only for the entertainment of others, because I will never read them. Fuck off.

        1. So, he right about the white van?

        2. Ha Ha made you look.

          1. He talks like he doesn't care, but he's a peeker.

        3. You too.

          1. That was to Show username - Vulgar Madman

        4. 3 replies so far to make sure the ignored know they are ignored. Instead of just ignoring them.

          What an ignoramous.

        5. What's up Chuck? Never mind. You're on permamute too.

        6. Awrite! Permamute is the rational response to ku-klux Comstock Gee-Oh-Pee girl bulliers swarming into Reason comments like so many illiterate Banana Republic looters eembaiding Texas. The only difference is the one mob eenbaides because El Bye-den eembyited dem to embaide. The other mob spews here because Orange Man God and We Wuz Robbed! The comments are now packed with literate libertarians commenting on the news itself (plus the placeholders for fascist pimps). Good show!

          1. All my favorite Hank Phillips memes in one crazy rant.
            You're the best, Grandpa Hank.

          2. I don't really care what team they're on as long as they don't respond to difference of opinion with personal hostility. That's what children do.

            1. That's exactly what you do, bloody hypocrite.

          3. Are you having a stroke?

      3. But the guy followed me around Target. I even told the security guard at the Goodwill about him.

        1. You shop at Target? Why?

          1. Because Goodwill was too expensive?

            1. That's mean. And true. Which makes it even more mean.

      4. I would never allow my child to eat a white van or a child molester. That's one of my rules.

        1. My child would never try.

    2. Instances of "something suspicious" in Halloween candy are many orders of magnitude less prevalent than instances of voter fraud. Are you reversing your opinion and now saying that it's okay for responsible legislators to have a look at voting practices and take action when they see something suspicious?

      1. You're free not to take my advice.

        "Are you reversing your opinion ...."

        I don't vote and assume that 'responsible' legislators are much more likely to engage in mischief than naive and sentimental voters. The abuse of power by the powerful is the concern, like the abuse of trust by the wicked in the case of Halloween.

        1. Like the lady said in the headline, the "wicked" are also greedy. They're not going to waste good drugs on kids.

          1. " They’re not going to waste good drugs on kids."

            To the truly wicked, poisoning a trusting child of unsuspecting parents is anything but a waste.

            1. They'd also have to be exceedingly stupid because getting caught would be a given.

              1. Just like they caught the tylenol tamperer(s), right? Nobody has been found responsible for those murders. So catching the perpetrator of a random poisoning is probably not as easy as you think it is. And whether it's easy or not has no bearing on the advisability of checking a child's Halloween takings before they're eaten.

                1. It is not something I worry about. At all. Not just for my kid but for any kid. There's a greater chance of them getting struck by lightening on a sunny day than finding a trick in the treat bag.
                  I choose to worry about.... actually I don't worry much. It's a waste of time.

                  Here's some whippersnapper music.


                  1. "There’s a greater chance of them getting struck by lightening on a sunny day than finding a trick in the treat bag."

                    That's a typical maneuver you find in many Reason articles. Faced with a deplorable outrage like the senseless random poisoning of a child, the first impulse is to minimize the incident by emphasizing its statistical unlikelihood. A guy holes up in a Las Vegas hotel and shoots dozens of concert goers to death? Nothing to see here, the chances of your being shot to death at a concert by a guy in a penthouse suite are lightning strike minimal.

        2. You assume (with no evidence) that voters engaged in fraud are naive and sentimental rather than wicked.

          Regardless, it's not relevant. The point is that there are no cases of "the wicked" adulterating Halloween candy. You are reacting to a fiction published by fear-mongers. Yet you somehow think that acting on that fiction is reasonable while acting on the still-very-small-but-not-entirely-fictitious problem of voter fraud is not. Your partisan blinders are showing.

          1. What do you mean no evidence? Trump didn't win! That's proof of voter fraud! And until the election is overturned, it will continue to be a fraudulent farce!

            Wind it back to 2016, substitute Hillary for Trump, and you'll see that the Trumpistas are no different than the people they hate.

            1. Didn't you just spend four years shouting about the Russians and how $150k in Facebook ads stole the election?

          2. "You assume (with no evidence) that voters engaged in fraud are naive and sentimental rather than wicked. "

            I assume that voters are powerless and legislators are not. Legislators have the ability to make laws. Voters stand in line and await their turn to choose between corrupt and untrustworthy candidates.

            "The point is that there are no cases of “the wicked” adulterating Halloween candy."

            I think a responsible care giver should take an interest in what their children put in their mouths. When I prepare food at home I always keep an eye open for anything unexpected or suspicious in the ingredients. Doubly so when dining out at a restaurant. The idea that I would lower my guard because of the spirit of Halloween is alien to me.

            "You are reacting to a fiction published by fear-mongers. "

            No, I'm just more conscious of food cleanliness and purity than you are. Perhaps it's my experience. I've bitten down on stones and bits of metal in my food, and that may have made me cautious. There's also the tale I heard as a lad of the only time my mother heard her father swear. The family was sitting down to a meal of boiled fish and several worms poked their waving heads out of the cavity when grand dad sliced up the first portion.

            1. Way to miss the point. No one is saying that you should lower your guard "because of the spirit of Halloween". We're saying that your apparently-existing standards are absurd and not based on facts.

              By the way, if your granddad was slicing, the family was clearly eating a meal they cooked themselves at home. Restaurants don't let you slice and serve. And if the worms were still moving after cooking, that says rather a lot about the cook and nothing about the fishmonger. Regardless, that tale is utterly irrelevant to concerns about false allegations of adulteration of candy.

  4. I wonder how many of the parents stupid enough to believe these stories are also stupid enough to make their kids wear muzzles everywhere they go? I'll bet there's a pretty big overlap between the two groups.

    1. Is it still a Venn Diagram if it's a perfect circle?

  5. I used to have a certain, limited begrudging respect for Chomsky because of his general defense of free speech.

    As of a few days ago, that is no more.

    Let the unvaccinated starve to death. Sure, Chomsky, sure.

    1. How the heck do people still have the idea in their heads that the vaccines do anything to protect other people? 6 months ago you might have been forgiven for optimistically thinking so. I had certainly hoped it would work that way. But it clearly doesn't. There is zero reason (beyond perhaps personal concern for their wellbeing) to give a shit if anyone else has been vaccinated.

      1. That's not entirely true. At least from what I've read the vaccine shortens the duration and intensity of the infection, which reduces the time that a person is contagious. It's not a silver bullet, but it's not a nothingburger either.

        1. An infected person has a responsibility to quarantine. If they don't know they are infected because of assumptions about vaccination and mild symptoms, they may not quarantine. Sarc thinks he has made a counterpoint, but it is not even close to true.

      2. Re: vaccines protecting other people...
        Isn't the idea that if you get vaccinated, you're not carrying the virus (or at least much less likely to be carrying enough to transmit), thus when you sneeze on someone you're not infecting them if they aren't themselves vaccinated?
        I'm absolutely not saying we should force anyone to be vaccinated. It's up to you. I got the shot so I wouldn't have to worry as much about catching it myself, not because I'm some kind of hippie do-my-part-to-stop-the-spread sheep.
        So getting the vaccine definitely protects me a whole hell of a lot more than wearing a goddamned mask. That's my one and only motivation for it. It is a nice side-effect though that all the people out there who are vaccinated aren't as likely to spread it around.

        1. And yes, I do agree that there is also absolute zero reason to give a shit if anyone else has been vaccinated. I got vaccinated to keep myself from getting sick (or badly sick), not for some nebulous common good.

          1. That is EXACTLY it.

            There are a lot of socks here using the vax to sew dissent, spread FUD and all that, but most folks I know in the real world just think mandates are dumb. Not the vaccine itself.

            Fundamentally it is just one good tool you might avail yourself to to keep you from getting sick. If you choose it. You don't owe me anything.

            I know numbers in my county and positive tests (post Delta) are about 3:1 or 4:1, hospitalizations are 30:1, and when you normalize for age basically it comes out to high efficacy even for phizer, even with Delta infectivity, even 6 months out. In short, as a middle aged man in reasonable health, I don't have to worry, even if I get exposed. And even if I'm unlucky enough to get the 'rona after exposure, odds are higher for a very mild case than if I get it without.

            I made my decisions entirely based on that. Not on you, not on mandates, not on some nebulous public good. Outside my household I really don't give a shit. I mean, I won't go out if I'm sick. These days I'll stay home even if I just have allergy sniffles, I'm not TRYING to hurt anyone, but that's not why I chose vaccination.

            With Delta, a lot of people are getting exposed no matter what we do. It's just more infectious than OG covid. But that doesn't change anything. Sooner or later it'll burn out, but no amount of masking or distancing is going to do more than maybe slow it some as we have NO alternative to the vaccines that will bring us to zero covid, and nothing in the works. Masking and economic restrictions will never stop covid cold here.

            I believe if we just keep an eye on hospital numbers, don't overrun anyplace, we're good. Let it happen and rip the bandaid off, it won't make any difference at this point with a very non-naive population for Delta. People have their options, we don't need to choose anything for them .

      3. "How the heck do people still have the idea in their heads that the vaccines do anything to protect other people?"

        The best analogy I've read is that it's like forcing everyone to wear a jacket, because you're worried about feeling cold.

        Maybe if the virus didn't have a host of other reservoirs, like polio or smallpox, you could argue for elimination. But when every mammal on earth can transmit it, we know that that's impossible.

  6. It's the annual "people freaking out about adulterated Halloween candy" Reason article. And if it turns out someone is spiking the candy we'll have the "legalize drug spiked Halloween candy ASAP" article.

    1. You can always buy your own stuff instead of hoping to score some from your kids' Halloween candy haul.

      1. It's like taking candy from a baby!

  7. The scariest Halloween costume of 2021 is a kid not wearing a mask.

      1. It will go viral.

        1. You guys are killing me.

          1. It just looks like a plot.

    1. That's good.

  8. dummies. at best it looks like children's vitamins

  9. I blame the Merry Pranksters and their acid tests, although dosing unsuspecting people with LSD was something a lot of other people did in the 1960s and early 1970s, too. Some hippies would take it as a moral imperative to dose squares who needed to have their minds expanded. This was a real thing, but it wasn't about Halloween. It's just that moral hazards, conspiracy theories, and memes sometimes put truths together in ways that should make sense but don't.

    In the 1980s, I had an old timer tell me that AIDS started because gay men were having sex with chimpanzees. He was right that AIDS was prevalent among gay men, and he was right that, at the time, it was thought that the virus had jumped species from chimpanzees. But he put two and two together and came up with the square root of 56.7. If the virus jumped species in Africa, it was probably because starving people were resorting to eating bush meat--not because of his weird and paranoid fantasies about what gay people to for fun.

    If there aren't any known cases of people spiking Halloween candy with LSD, etc. that doesn't mean there weren't people, at one time, 1) who were willing to dose the youth unwittingly, or, conversely, 2) people who were openly advocating that the youth "turn on, tune in, and drop out". It's just that somehow this came to be associated with Halloween--probably because the thought of people dosing your kids, like CRT, is scary.

    1. Ken blames leftists. Surprise surprise.

      1. No, he blames the squares who were clearly asking for it.

        1. "I blame the Merry Pranksters..."

          1. Different Ken.

        2. I don't know what's being said here, but the Merry Pranksters really did go around dosing people who didn't know they were being dosed, and since they were the first to go around popularizing LSD, blaming them for the origin of the meme makes a ton of sense. They threw concerts and spiked the punch--among other things. That was one of the gulfs between the Merry Pranksters and Leary, the willingness to subject people to experimentation without their express consent.

          I can think of a whole bunch of famous people who were dosed or who were advocating dosing people from back then. Donovan lost a girlfriend because he dosed her without her knowledge. Grace Slick once bragged about trying to dose Nixon. Peter Green, founding member of Fleetwood Mac before Stevie Nicks and company joined, was cornered by the Red Army Faction when he was in Germany and dosed so bad. The other members of the band said they gave him way too much, and he never really came back.

          It was a standard thing for a lot of hippies back then--that the world would become peaceful and less aggressive if everyone just took some acid at least once--and got that feeling of oneness with the universe. In a generation where people were being drafted by the government and forced to fight in a war they opposed, it probably shouldn't be surprising that there was a youth culture that featured people who were willing to dose squares without their consent.

          Regardless of why dosing people was a thing, it was a thing.

          1. Just sarcasmic being a retard and deliberately taking things out of context again.
            He interpreted "Merry Pranksters" to mean "leftists" and went into victim mode.

          2. >>Peter Green, founding member of Fleetwood Mac

            fucking badass. chicks ruined that band.

            1. "Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to..."

          3. My mom was dosed without her knowledge while going to college in Boston in the 60s. She didn't find it to be a good time.

            I still think it's funny that no matter what the topic is, you blame leftists.

            If you didn't have me on mute I'd ask you how my cousin's diabetes is caused by leftists, and I'm sure you'd have an answer: vote Republican!

            1. Because sarcasmic doesn't actually know who the Merry Pranksters were, and that they hung with the Hell's Angels rather than Jane Fonda and Nancy Pelosi types.
              He also doesn't understand that Ken was being a little complementary to them.

              He really is a little too dumb to be here.

    2. I thought that too. I didn’t have enough confidence in the theory to repeat it, though :p I recently read a book on the science behind kosher laws and the “unclean” meats are nature’s filtration system. They remove the disease ridden, rotting and putrid from the environment so that people can be relatively unmolested by certain diseases.

      Kind of cool, really.

      That’s when I realized Africans were probably eating the monkeys and that’s how HIV jumped species. It spreads among us through bodily fluid exchange… which is prevalent in sex. And the sex method among gays used a orifice where the tissues are designed to absorb any last remnants of nutrition from waste before expelling. That absorption mechanism makes them more susceptible to the disease.

  10. When I was a kid I remember looking for razor blades in candy was all the rage, there were even places you could take the candy to have it x-rayed. And that was before we had social media to work all the Karen's into a frenzy.

    1. I remember people trapping their indoor/outdoor cats inside for the night, and I remember seeing cats hanging from flag poles the next day on the way to school.

      Tricks were a real thing.

      1. How traumatic that must have been for you at a young age.

    2. When I was a kid I misheard the English as "trigger treat." The whole thing seemed to me a sort of lawless night on which kids could commit armed robbery with qualified immunity. Parents, lucky for them, never resisted to the point of my gang having to kneel on their throats until dead, inject them with narcotics and forge throwdown medical examiner's "reports" to paper the whole thing over with a counterfeiting of due process.

      1. That has morphed into "trigger treat," where mean right-wing bullies delight in triggering soft lefty kids by dressing as Donald Trump, or giving out My Pillow coupons instead of candy.

  11. I'd lace my Halloween candy with fentanyl, but I bought smarties, and I'm keeping them all for myself.

  12. Mike Hihn’s favorite Halloween candy?

    1. Buttplug’s?
      Sour Patch Kids

      1. sarcasmic prefers Trolli.

        1. Or liqueur filled chocolates.

  13. Lenore is about the only reason a 21st Century mom could have for subscribing to Reason. The Christianofascist Altar Girl repels thinking entities of all genders and persuasions pretty much like a skunk (or like Whutsisname). Lenore, ENB, Mangu and Liz at least come off as human. But whenever I try to interest a lady in alternatives to mindless bullying, Lenore is my go-to referral to Reason.

    1. Cripes, Grandpa is on a roll today and is attacking all of 1992's hottest targets.

      Just wait until he hits the middle nineties and finds out about Hillary Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act and Tipper Gore's war on explicit lyrics. Con-Fu-Sion.

  14. I think it highly unlikely my kids will be doped on Halloween, but there is a kind of thrill in corrupting innocents. Those types of thrill seekers aren’t found in most suburban moms’ trick or treat route, though, so they don’t need to be so paranoid.

  15. “I once met an FBI employee whose job was to warn school bus drivers about possible terrorist hijackings”

    During Gulf War One, our company was assigned to ride on the school buses for the US Army schools in Germany. We were supposed to be there to protect the kids from terrorists, but we didn’t have any ammo.

    I figured if we were attacked, I’d just charge the bad guys with my empty rifle while the bus driver drove the kids to safety.

  16. The kids got a giant sack of white sugar, artificial colour and preservatives. Some drugs in the bag would give them a healthier choice.

  17. I have to know: Did that FBI agent perform her duties with a straight face?

  18. Slipping someone a mickey finn can be an excellent wheeze. I am reminded of the time when Bertie Wooster spiked Gussie Fink-Nottle's orange juice with gin so as to give Gussie the courage to ask for Madeline Bassett's hand in marriage. Hilarity ensued.

  19. I think it highly unlikely my kids will be doped on Halloween, but there is a kind of thrill in corrupting innocents. Those types of thrill seekers aren’t found in most suburban moms’ trick or treat route, though, so they don’t need to be so paranoid.

    Distributor Panel Surya

  20. Actually if you read the PD's FB post, it said nothing about Halloween either. It was posted on 9/22 and seems to be more of a generic 'warn your kids that if they stumble upon something that looks like candy it might not be' -- i.e. if you find this in Johnny's Dad's sock drawer, don't eat it. Seems like Fox is the one who twisted it into a Halloween warning.
    I find joy in ignoring all the fear mongering and just watching fellow parents eyes goggle out of their skulls when I decline to inspect my kids candy whatsoever. Homemade popcorn ball? Have at it. The miniscule, alligator-attack-at-Disney level of risk is more than outweighed by the value of not modelling irrational paranoia to my children.

  21. Like the ridiculous stories about random strangers snatching kids from parents at Wal Mart (but never Target) this just doesn't happen. Even the stories I heard as a kid about needles, poison and razor blades in apples (I'm 68 now) were totally fabricated. Law enforcement officers insist it's real and it happens...but in some other jurisdiction, just not ours. But it could!!!

    And the cops wonder why we don't trust them.

  22. Candy trolls

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.