HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Unfortunately, there hasn’t been too many paranormal or Halloween appropriate threads on ATS. I usually make a few threads this
time of year about a ghost story or two, but I have been extremely busy. I came across an article the other day talking about Trick or Treat safety
when it comes to candy. This got me thinking about why we are so paranoid about the candy our children get from Trick or Treat.
I looked up a few sources on the subject and found that there were a few real instances of candy tampering throughout the decades that are the basis
for the candy safety hysteria we see today.
In 1959, a California dentist, William Shyne, gave candy-coated laxative pills to trick or treaters. He was charged with outrage of public decency and
unlawful dispensing of drugs.
In 1964, an annoyed Long Island, New York woman gave out packages of inedible objects to children who she believed were too old to be
trick-or-treating. The packages contained items such as steel wool, dog biscuits, and ant buttons (which were clearly labeled with the word "poison").
Though nobody was injured, she was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to endangering children. The same year saw media reports of lye-filled bubble gum
being handed out in Detroit and rat poison being given in Philadelphia, although these media reports were never substantiated to be actual events.
In 1970, Kevin Toston, a 5-year-old boy from the Detroit area, found and ate heroin his uncle had stashed. The boy died following a four-day coma. The
family attempted to protect the uncle by claiming the drug had been sprinkled in the child's Halloween candy.
In a 1974 case, Timothy O'Bryan, an 8-year-old boy from Deer Park, Texas, died after eating a cyanide-laced package of Pixy Stix. A subsequent police
investigation eventually determined that the poisoned candy had been planted in his trick-or-treat pile by the boy's father, Ronald Clark O'Bryan, who
also gave out poisoned candy to other children in an attempt to cover up the murder. The murderer, who had wanted to claim life insurance money, was
executed in 1984.
In 1978, Patrick Wiederhold, a two-year-old boy from Flint, Michigan died after eating Halloween candy. However, toxicology tests found no evidence of
poison and the death was determined to be due to natural causes.
Chicago Tylenol Murders
The Chicago Tylenol murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1982. The victims had
all taken Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide. A total of seven people died in the original poisonings,
with several more deaths in subsequent copycat crimes. This was first reported one month before Halloween in 1982. The incident inspired the
pharmaceutical, food, and consumer product industries to develop tamper-resistant packaging, such as induction seals and improved quality control
methods. Moreover, product tampering was made a federal crime.
The news media promoted these stories continuously through the 1980’s which in turn spread through word of mouth causing a panic among parents. Much
like the “Satanic Panic”, this hysteria was based on unsubstantiated claims or before a full investigation could be completed and often never
followed up on. It got so bad that in 1985, a ABC News/Washington Post poll found 60% of parents feared that their children would be injured or killed
because of Halloween candy sabotage.
Though the hysteria may not be as bad as the peak in the 1980’s, the candy scare still influences the way we celebrate Trick or Treat. Parents and
communities have often restricted trick-or-treating and developed alternative "safe" events. Individually wrapped, brand named candy is promoted while
homemade treats are discouraged.
I have three children and yes, I check their candy hauls when we get back to the house. To be honest, it’s more of a reason for me to pick out the
candy I want to eat. I do remember, as a child of the 80’s, my parents checking through my candy pretty close. I also remember the rumors that
spread among the other kids my age about certain neighborhoods where tainted candy was being handed out.
How many of you remember the “Poisoned Candy Panic”?
edit on 25-10-2017 by jtrenthacker because: (no reason given)