Contaminated Candy: The Only Deadly Confirmed Case Was In Texas
Is it just me, or does it seem like traditional Trick-or-treating is deader than a bone-dry skeleton? Not to age myself, but I loved roaming the neighborhood at night with my friends in search of the houses with the best candy. To this day I still remember the house that gave me an entire roll of square Jolly Ranchers (I hope they are doing just great) and the house that gave me a single, loose Nilla wafer (I hope they are great too, just less so than the other house).
But even back in the ye olde 90s, there were ample warnings to check your candy for tampering. Heck, even my parents in the 70s were told to look before they bit. I remember dentist offices offering to X-Ray kid's treats and some kids actually waiting until they got home before they tried anything- so mom and dad could do an inspection.
Now, Halloween has been watered down into Trunk or Treats and Fall Festivals. It's not bad, just different. What's remarkable though, is that all those warnings and the death (at least in part) of traditional Trick-Or-Treating all stem from a huge myth that was perpetuated by well-meaning, yet misinformed folks. There's only ever been one case of contaminated Halloween candy- and it took place right here in Texas. And it was no stranger that did it.
The only documented case of poisoned or otherwise deadly Halloween candy arguably happened because of all the false claims that it was happening to random children. A Texas man named Ronald Clark O'Bryan took his two children trick-or-treating in Pasadena on Halloween night, 1974. Clark gave Pixie Sticks to five children that he claimed came from a house that did not initially open the door for the children. When he got home with his kids, he encouraged his child Timothy to eat a particular piece of candy- the Pixie Stick- even though it had been stapled shut, was clumped up, difficult to get out of the wrapper, and tasted bitter. Timothy died. Luckily, the other children had not yet consumed the candy as O'Bryan had laced them with potassium cyanide.
O'Bryan used contaminated candy as an attempted cover to murder his own child for the life insurance money, and he was willing to take out other people's kids, too. It's an awful crime, but hardly a case of random stranger danger.
If there is an upside to this new Trunk-or-Treat era, it's not that kids are getting safer candy, it's that they are less likely to be hit by cars. But it's still really important to teach kids about being good pedestrians. You can use your lecture time for this lesson, should you now choose to forgo talking about non-existent staples inside Snickers.
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