You’ve probably heard it many times: examine your child’s Halloween candy for signs of tampering and throw away anything questionable. After all, you don’t want to risk your child being poisoned or find needles or razor blades hidden in candy.
But does this really happen? Does Halloween candy really get sabotaged, or is this an urban myth that’s been spread around by overeager media outlets?
In truth, there have been only a handful of documented cases of Halloween sabotage in the past 50 years, and none have been the result of a stranger trying to hurt trick-or-treaters with tainted Halloween candy. Here are some documented cases of tainted or allegedly tainted Halloween candy.
- In 1964, a woman was charged with child endangerment when she handed out inedible objects, such as steel wool and dog biscuits, to kids she felt were too old to be out trick-or-treating. She told the kids that the “treats” were not real, and no children were injured by her acts.
- In 1970, a 5-year-old child died by allegedly ingesting candy that was tainted with heroin. As it turns out, he found his uncle’s stash of heroin, and that was the cause of his death. The family tried to cover it up by dusting his Halloween candy with the drug.
- In 1974, a man used cyanide to poison his son’s Halloween candy, which resulted in the death of the 8-year-old boy. The man wanted to kill his son for the insurance money, but to make it seem like a random act, he also poisoned his daughter’s candy and the candy of three other children. Fortunately, those children did not eat any of the candy.
- In 2008, Pokémon Valentine’s candy was found to have metal shavings in it, but this was found to have happened in China where the candy was manufactured.
So what’s a parent to do? It’s still a good idea to check your child’s candy for opened wrappers, but rest assured that the odds of anyone tampering with Halloween candy are extremely small or nonexistent.
- Halloween candy is very rarely sabotaged.
- Most cases involve the victim knowing the assailant.
- Most reported cases have no evidence to support tampering.
- You should still take care to check your child's treats to make sure they are safe.