5 Halloween Candy Myths: What's Real and What's Not?

October 14, 2013
by Michael Barber
5 Halloween Candy Myths: What's Real and What's Not?

We've all heard the stories of heroin-laced Halloween candy and razor blades in apples but are these stories true? Here we explore five Halloween candy myths to sort out the facts from the myths.

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#1 Strychnine in Sunkist Treats

According to the Chicago Tribune, back in 1988 The New York Times reported traces of strychnine were discovered in a box of Sunkist Fun Fruits Dinosaurs. The treats were obtained from a grocery store in New Jersey but once tested by the FDA, the "strychnine" was actually cornstarch.

Unfortunately, Sunkist destroyed 9,400 cases of these fruit treats and declared their image to be tainted. If you see any types of powder or unknown substance on your child's candy, do not let them ingest the candy. If they do and tell you later, head to an urgent care center to be sure your child is okay.

#2 Heroin in Halloween Candy

This is one of those myths that really grew into mass hysteria when in fact, it was an adult crime. In 1970 a five-year old went into a coma and died of a heroin overdose. Officials in Detroit had the candy analyzed but found out the real story.

Apparently, the five-year-old found his uncle's heroin stash and to prevent the uncle from doing jail time, the family sprinkled the heroin on the child's candy to protect the uncle. Most parents are responsible and loving, unlike these parents, so if you suspect your child has ingested any illegal drug, head to a pediatric urgent care center to get immediate treatment to avoid overdoses.

#3 Candy Poisoning

Another myth behind Halloween candy comes from Vancouver. The Chicago Tribune also debunked this myth. Apparently a four-year-old became sick and died just one day after eating her trick or treat candy. In fear of tainted candy, law enforcement urged parents in Vancouver to get rid of all their children's candy and most did.

It was found later the child had suffered from a non-contagious Streptococcus bacteria. Streptococcus bacteria can be contagious and may present in the form of strep throat or impetigo. This Halloween scare was not actually a threat, but if your child complains of a bad sore throat or a rash develops at any time you should seek family care from a professional.

#4 Needles Found in Candy Bar

With the myths out there about Halloween candy, there are also some facts. One is the case of James J. Smith of Minneapolis who inserted needles into Snickers candy bars and subsequently gave them out as treats. Although no child required medical attention one child did receive a small prick while eating the needle-laced candy.

James J. Smith was arrested and charged with "one count of adulterating a substance with intent to cause death, harm or illness," said The Chicago Tribune. One way to avoid scares like these is to check all of your child's candy before giving the okay to eat it.

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#5 Razor Blades in Apples

If you're a baby boomer, you probably heard the story about villains putting razor blades in apples and then giving handing them out at Halloween. This scare was first reported in the mid-1960s. Subsequently in 1968, author Jack Santino published a book "Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life" where he penned that a New Jersey law was passed that mandated "prison terms for people who booby-trapped apples." The year the book was published only 13 apples were found with razor blades inside and almost all other cases were discovered to be hoaxes.

Halloween is fun time for the entire family. It's easy to make sure your child's candy is safe by examination and to rid of any candy you're unsure about. Above all, if your child experiences any type of reaction after eating candy, seek an urgent care center.