Will you check their Halloween candy?

Once upon a time, a Halloween rumor snaked its way around the country, scaring each suburban parent in its wake.  When rumors circulated that poisoned candy was distributed to trick-or-treaters, the Halloween candy-checking rituals began.  Further discussions stated that candy tampered with pins and razor blades were also handed out.  Although the rumors proved mostly untrue, they originated from a true story about a man who murdered his own child with poisoned Halloween candy in order to cash in on a life insurance policy.  However, it contributed to the annual search-and-abolish mission parents undertake after each Halloween.

Ever since the poisoned 1970s and 1980s Halloween candy scares, many parents vigilantly rummage through their kids’ treat bags.  Now it’s a given to examine every Milky Way with the stealth of factory inspector number 56.  Or is it? Does anyone still check their children’s Halloween candy anymore? Is it that important to examine every piece from an overflowing pillowcase of treats?

My own no-no list

Instead of rummaging through the candy to steal a Twix bar, I feverishly paw through any candy the kids receive including chalky, almost chocolate Easter bunnies to gorgeously decorated yet bland lollipops to their hard-won Halloween candy.  I use my own mental sort list in order to detect faulty candy and other sundry collected items like money and tracts warning about the evils of Halloween.

First, I check my son J’s bag for any candy with nuts due to his allergy.  Luckily, he’s able to sit next to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but he just can’t and won’t eat them.  When he was originally tested, not only did his eyes bulge and his face blow up, but he puckered up like he tasted a lemon and refused to eat the rest of the required testing teaspoonful.

Since I grew up during the “Poison Halloween Candy” years, I seek out pins or razor blades in the candy.  Although I realize it was mostly proven false, the stories will not leave my subconscious despite Snopes.com reports and Urban Legend busted myths.  Besides, never mind the kids — what if I sneak some candy and break a tooth while chomping down on a razor blade?!?

Never mind the kids — what if I sneak some candy and break a tooth while chomping down on a razor blade?!?

And I still sort through the candy to make sure they’re not chowing down on any candy manufactured in China.  The scary reports about harmful chemicals contained in the foreign-made candy and the unsanitary factories where they were produced squelched my trust and increased my paranoia.  Although I struggle not to waste food and condemn all candy from Asian manufacturers, I just couldn’t bear to save two boxes of Indonesian gummy fruit snacks.

Policing or fliching?

Friends I polled sometimes check and sometimes don’t.  The checkers mentioned they wouldn’t allow the kids to eat the candy until they checked it out unless they brought it from home or received it from a trusted neighbor or friend.  Some expressed concern about the bowls left out on stoops which could have been tampered with by anyone.  My friend T mentioned that “obviously anything open or glaringly odd” gets tossed.  Mostly, though, the moms rummaged through the candy to get a shot at their favorites and the best candy!  Who cared about any more danger than a few extra calories?!?

Maybe we should search for another sketchy item in their treat bags: marijuana-shaped candy which recently caused uproar with Buffalo, NY, parents. Produced by a novelty supply company, the lollipops and ring-pops are sour-apple flavored and shaped into marijuana leaves.  The outer packaging depicts a “joint-smoking, peace-sign waving user” with the word “legalize” printed across the front.  Most parents felt that the product promoted marijuana use.  What a great backlash for the War on Drugs, huh?

Does anyone remember candy cigarettes from childhood? I recall visiting the local candy store after church on Sundays, and my conservative parents purchasing candy cigarettes for us.  There were two different kinds: either wax-paper wrapped, colored gum cigarettes that sprayed powdered sugar when you blew into them; or white candy with a dab of reddish-orange to look like a lighted butt.  We loved them! And neither of us smokes.

Just spooky stories

Amid the ghosts, ghouls and goblins, Halloween candy provides spooky stories of candy stuffed with pins and razor blades; laced with poison, chemicals and allergens; and filled with crazy amounts of sugar.  While checking the candy can’t hurt, please remember that many of the candy scare tales are just that — tales.  Enjoy the holiday, and memorize these lines: “Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…”

M.B. Sanok is a South Jersey mom and a blogger for JerseyMomsBlog, where this post originated.

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