A brief history of poisoned Halloween candy panic

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The unquiet spirits, vampires and the omnipresent zombies that take over American streets every October 31 may think Halloween is all about spooky fun. But what Halloween masqueraders may not realize is that in the early 1970s and well into the next decade, real fear took over.

The media, police departments and politicians began to tell a new kind of Halloween horror story — about poisoned candy. No actual events explained this fear: It was driven by social and cultural anxieties. And there is a lesson in that about the power of rumors on this day of dark fantasy.

However, a comprehensive 1985 study of 30 years of alleged poisoning did not find even a single confirmed incident of a child’s death, or even serious injury. Sociologist Joel Best at the University of Delaware, who led the study, called it an “urban legend.” Most reports of poisoned Halloween candy that appeared in print were editorials written by authoritative voices in politics and media rather than actual events. However, police all over the country urged parents to accompany their children while trick-or-treating.

Full article at CNN

Article submitted by CTed