When it comes to Halloween candy, it can be hard to know if the kids or the parents are more excited about a mountain of sweets.
However, there is one not-so-exciting aspect about the holiday — a fear of “tainted” candy.
Although you may know the history behind trick-or-treating and why we give and ask for candy, this darker aspect of Halloween may not make as much sense.
If you live in a neighborhood full of trusted individuals and friends, people who often have children of their own… why do parents furiously check through Halloween candy at the end of the evening?
The answer is that it’s an honored urban legend, or a series of rumors, that have been passed down over the years with no proof to back it up.
According to Snopes, these stories come out yearly, and upon further investigation, turn out to be absolutely UNTRUE.
“Nearly all such cases turn out to be nothing: they’re pranks played by children on their parents, siblings, or friends; they’re false reports generated by attention-seeking children and adults.
“They involve material that accidentally, rather than deliberately, ends up in children’s goodie bags; or they’re examples of coincidence mistaken for causation.”
More often than not, parents are perfectly aware that their kids Halloween candy is safe, and that there’s nothing to worry about.
The problem is that 99 percent of the time where there’s no danger doesn’t account for that 1 percent where something could very well be wrong with your child’s candy.
This was the case in 2000, when James Joseph Smith of Minneapolis, Minnesota was busted for tampering with the Halloween candy he gave out to children. The 49-year-old was charged with one count of adulterating a substance with intent to cause death, harm, or illness.
In this incidence, only one 14-year-old boy was harmed, having pricked himself when he bit into a candy bar. There was no serious long-term injury and no one else was hurt.
Another, far older incident involving a Long Island, New York housewife believed to be the very source of the “check all Halloween candy” urban legend.
Helen Pfeil was arrested after she dropped arsenic pellets into the bags of candy that belonged to teenagers she felt were too old to be trick-or-treating. It was noted that her own teenage sons had gone out to collect Halloween candy.
Because the teens and their parents checked the candy, it’s felt they avoided any potential danger.
In the decades since, Halloween candy has been both loved and feared by parents. Tainted candy remains a fear, even if there’s little in the way to prove that the fear is genuine outside of extremely rare accounts.
Do you think tainted candy is a valid fear or just a silly urban legend? Should parents always check their children’s Halloween candy?
[Image Credit: Jeff Turner]