Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tampered Candy: The Halloween Fear


I don’t know about ya’all, but my Halloween’s as a kid were totally wild and free orgies in which the children ruled the streets. We carried pillowcases `cause we were cocky son-of-a-bitches and we figured it was going to carry our enormous amount of loot. In my area we knocked on doors until midnight and covered miles and miles of the suburbs. Whoever reached the apartment buildings knew they had done a huge haul because they were on the periphery of the subdivision.

Even though we were allowed to travel far and alone knocking at strangers’ doors and getting candy offerings from them and sometimes coins or apples (why even answer your door and waste both our time?) we still had to go home and have the candy examined. Then, the kids would begin with all the urban legends of razor blades in apples and ground glass in Bazooka bubble gum and poison injected into Tootsie Rolls. Ironically, it did not stop us from nibbling on the way home. Every candy the parents tossed out that had a loose wrapper caused a sigh of disappointment. Oh, why couldn’t it have been the candy corn, why the Snickers?
The most famous case of actual tampering came from the murder of an 8-year-old named Timothy in the mid 70s, who was actually killed by his father who laced his Pixie Stix with cyanide. And, just as people need to realize, we actually are at more threat by our own family more than strangers (which is why persons of interest are pretty much always a family member--comforting, huh?). This evil man also gave the candy to his daughter and some of her friends, but they hadn’t eaten the candy. This was apparently motivated by an insurance policy on the kid.

A woman named Helen Pfeil in 1964 was tired of older teenagers showing up for free candy so she handed out ant killer poison buttons to those kids. The packages contained steel wool, dog biscuits, and the ant buttons and were marked “poison” and with a skull and crossbones. She told the kids it was a joke and no one was hurt, still she was charged for potential harm.

A great deal of this legend comes from hysteria. Some years, fear of strychnine poisoning made companies and stores destroy packages, but once tested nothing unusual was found. Some children getting sick around Halloween sparked fear of poisoning. Children coming down with infections or dying on that particular day became linked to Halloween and more rumors began.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t continue to look for tampered candy and even better, do like I did and stand at the end of the sidewalk and wave to the person handing out the candy as a show of “I remember you giving my kid candy…”

Still, I have to admit that wicked scene in Halloween 2 where the kid and mom come into the hospital with the kid holding a cloth to her mouth with a razor blade sticking out of the tongue was pretty bad ass and gave me chills. I never did eat those apples on Halloween (but that’s probably because I had a pillowcase filled with candy)!

Halloween was official when this played on TV -



14 comments:

  1. Sadly kids today cannot experience what we did. My halloween's were much the same as yours. We filled our bags, came home and dumped it, and then went out for more. There is so much kids need worry about now...tampered candy...blades in fruit...child abduction...robbery...the list goes on and on. So sad.
    Mary

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  2. Mary;
    Yeah, I do recall my parents telling me about much simpler times they had too. They were really old when they had me and they remembered the depression era. I remember thinking how simple their upbringing was and mine seemed so simple compared to my son's and then I don't even know some day when I have grandkids what theirs will be like. Overpopulation makes the world a very different place too. I wonder what fond memories my son will have? How he started off playing videogames on Intellivision system? It will seem so archaic to his kids, I bet. Hee hee

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  3. Random Candy Violence was always a big concern of my mother's. She made us throw out candy apples and popcorn balls and examined every piece of candy for tampering. It was a very real fear for me. My sociology teacher included in this in her lecture on urban legends and I was heart broken. If random candy violence is only a legend, just think of all the candy apples and treats with broken seals I could have eaten but had to throw away! What a tragedy.

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  4. Jessica;
    Yeah, it was a freaking slaughter house in the 70s, I know. All those innocent ill-wrapped candies. We should have a Halloween Memorial Day, huh? How does one celebrate that, though? Perhaps braving to eat that one Tootsie roll in the midgets pack that was unwrapped...

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  5. I remember as a youth you could bring your candy to the police station and they would "check" it. How may I ask was this done? I also remember my parents "checking" my candy and that was by picking out they stuff they liked best and leaving the shitty stuff for me!

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  6. Halloweenman666;
    Yeah, I hated those freaking peanut butter things that were taffy--what the hell were they called? Jeez--I despised those. I loved Bazooka, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, and Smarties. Yeah, I do recall my mom wanting all my Babe Ruths which was cool with me. I hated candy that made you work too hard to eat it. I'm still laughing imaging those poor cops sorting through bags of candy for "suspects."

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  7. It is sad that there is a few crazies that spoil it for the rest of us. Like you, we used to have pillowcases full of candy and stayed out late. We never worried about tainted candy. BTW, I love the picture of Dale floating in the pool. Where is his bathing suit? At least he isn't naked, lol.

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  9. Julie;
    You seriously don't want to see Dale naked--not a sight for your eyes. He's basically a very very thin linen, all threadbare and nasty. Poor guy. He's just too fair for our sunlight here. Perhaps I should make him pose in his onsies PJs? Hee hee. I think he'd probably drown me if I tried to get that shot. He was already grumbling about me posing him like a pocket puppy.

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  10. My halloweens as a kid were the same way.. which is probably why I am still obsessed with the holiday. My Mom always made us check our candy too.. and I always thought she was crazy..then I saw Halloween and the scene with the little boy with the razor blade in his candy scared the crap out of me too and I never complained again about her checking ha ha hahaha

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  11. ahhh, brings back memories. I was trick or treating in the '80's and it was relatively safe, but I had cops for parents, one of which was always with us, who wouldn't let us touch the candy until it was examined for signs of tampering and we stood by as suspect pieces got squished "just to make sure". Occasionally, it was taken to the police station for x-rays...yeah really!

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  12. Living Dead Girl Nicole;
    I'm with ya! I have to admit that I did throw out my son's candies that looked at all questionable. I do remember my father studying candy for needle marks. Wow, that's pretty specific. It's pretty funny when you think about it. The candy has about a 0.0001% chance of being tampered with, but the freaking sugar in it has a 100% chance of making you bounce off the walls and contribute to future obesity and diabetes... hmm... which is more dangerous???

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  13. Oh, and those peanut butter things are Mary Janes or peanut butter kisses! I can't get enough of them at Halloweeen!!! Trade ya for my candy corn!

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  14. Malissa;
    Yeah, I do recall people getting their candy x-rayed. It's pretty funny. You're saying for one night a year you'll do the very thing your parents tell you to never do--take candy from strangers. And, it seems so innocent and sweet to knock at neighbors doors, but then you turn and take the loot to be examined. Yeah, we trust you, but we don't trust you...

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