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Tainted Halloween Candy

Every year for decades children and adults alike have been hearing and passing along rumors of dangerously tainted Halloween candy: goodies laced with poison, drugs, razor blades, pins, needles, and other sorts of harmful substances randomly distributed to innocent trick-or-treaters by depraved pranksters. While documented cases of such
tampering are rare (and in the case of poison, non-existent), these rumors persist, in part, because every year numerous cases of suspected candy tampering are reported by the news media in the days immediately following Halloween.

Nearly all such cases turn out to be nothing: they're pranks played by children on their parents, siblings, or friends; they're false reports generated by attention-seeking children and adults; they involve material that accidentally, rather than deliberately, ends up in children's goodie bags; or they're examples of coincidence mistaken for causation (e.g., a person eats a piece of candy and shortly afterwards feels ill, then erroneously attributes the illness to tainted Halloween candy). But often no follow-ups are done on such news stories after the initial, unconfirmed reports, leaving the public with the impression that all of them involved genuine cases of tainted candy being distributed to trick-or-treaters. Below we've collected a round-up of such news stories from Halloween 2014, some of which are already known to involve false reportings:

Station WSOC in Charlotte ran a A report about a metal blade purportedly found in a Twix candy bar handed out on Halloween night in Maiden, North Carolina:

Police in Maiden were investigating after parents of a trick-or-treater said they found a razor blade partially embedded in a small candy bar.

The child was no hurt but police said they were taking the matter very seriously.

Officers said the parents were checking their children's Halloween candy when they found a small metallic blade inside the wrapper of a Twix Mini candy bar. The child had been trick-or-treating in the Maiden area.

Police want to make sure that parents check their children's Halloween candy and are continuing to investigate the incident

Similarly, Pennsylvania police reported that a teenager had purportedly found a razor blade secreted in the wrapper a candy bar given to him while he was trick-or-treating:

A 13-year-old trick-or-treater in Montgomery County made a horrifying discovery after unwrapping a candy bar he picked up on Halloween: a large razor blade.

The candy had been sealed when the boy opened it and immediately discovered the blade loose inside the wrapper, not hidden in the candy itself, said Sgt. John Cutrone of the Towamencin Township Police Department. He did not bite into the candy and was not injured.

"I was just sitting in my living room, my son's sitting in the kitchen ... he opens up the wrapper, and there's a razor blade, like the ones you get out of a cutter, right on top of it," said Jennifer Gage, the boy's mother. "He's like, 'Mom, look, there's a razor blade right in this candy!'"

She said the blade was inside a small, "snack size" Nestle Crunch bar. Cutrone declined to identify the brand, saying that could lead parents to overlook other types of candy that may also have concealed objects.

He said it was unclear whether the candy bar had been opened and then resealed. It was also unclear which house the candy came from, but the child had been trick-or-treating in the area of Woodlawn Drive and Walnut Lane in the Inglewood Development section of the township, Cutrone said.

"It's a very controlled area, it's only like three streets," Gage said.

Police will publicize the incident on the township website and social-media feeds, Cutrone said; the North Penn School District used its notification system to inform parents.

Asked whether it might have been a prank, Cutrone said police were investigating all possibilities.

Buffalo Police issued a warning based on a local woman's complaint that pieces of glass had been found in Tootsie Pops given to her children the night before Halloween:

Parents in the city’s Kaisertown area near Houghton Park are being warned by Buffalo Police to be careful of the candy their children are given in Halloween excursions tonight.

A Kaisertown woman complained to police about pieces of glass in Tootsie Pops her children were given during Beggar’s Night trick or treating activity. Police are trying to pin down the residence involved.

Canadian police investigated a complaint about a pin found in a chocolate bar in Wetaskiwin, Alberta:

RCMP in Wetaskiwin are reminding people to check their children’s Halloween candy after officers received a complaint of a pin found in a chocolate bar.

Officers say it appears to be an isolated incident and no one was injured.

"It was a relatively small pin," said Cpl. Gary Kroeker with Wetaskiwin RCMP. "The candy was bitten and the pin was noticed after that and so it didn't actually puncture or prick anybody. So at least, thankfully, nobody was injured."

In a post on the Wetaskiwin Rant and Rave Facebook page, resident Victoria Kimberly says she found the pin in one of her kid’s mini chocolate bars.

"Parents check your kids candy. It may look safe but you never know," the post reads. "It takes two seconds."

Another woman in the Kansas City area reported to the news media that her daughter found a pin in her Halloween candy:

Laticha Robinson's children were snacking on their Halloween stash when her oldest daughter broke open a Snickers and found a black metal pin inside.

"I teach them you don't eat no candy until you get home and when you get home you break through your candy, and that's what she did," said Robinson.

Robinson kept the contaminated candy and ordered her kids to bag up the rest so she could throw it away.

Her twin girls, 9-year-old Shanoia and Shaneta Harris, gladly complied after trick-or-treating in Waldo and Midtown as a doctor and a police officer. Their mom has already changed how they'll celebrate Halloween next year. Surprisingly, the twins don't mind.

"No more trick-or-treating; we'll do holiday parties at home. No more. I'm totally done with it. My grandson, this was his first and his last trick-or-treat," said Laticha Robinson.

"I feel good because we still going to get some candy," said Shaneta Harris.

Kansas City police have not received any reports of dangerous candy. The same is true for Children's Mercy and St. Luke's hospitals.

In a similar vein, a father in Auburn, Maine, said one of his children found a sewing needle concealed within a Snickers bar received while trick-or-treating:

A sewing needle "expertly" placed down the center of a candy bar caused a concerned dad to dump the whole load of Halloween candy and send out a word of caution.

Jason Levesque said he took his children, 6, 8 and 16 years old, out for an innocent evening of trick-or-treating, expecting a great haul from a generous neighborhood.

When the three kids pooled their spoils together and divided them, Levesque's oldest found a trick hidden within her treat. Buried within a "fun size" Snickers bar, Levesque said the teen found a sewing needle.

"Frankly, I'm flabbergasted," Levesque said. "Hopefully, this is an isolated incident."

Auburn police Lieutenant Laurie Woodhead said she hadn't heard of any similar incidents regarding tampered candy.

Levesque said that outside of urban legend, this is the first time he actually heard of anything like this happening — and certainly not within his own family.

A mother in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, said she found "a plastic bag containing three pills" in her children’s Halloween candy:

A mother in Pottawatomie County told authorities she found a plastic bag containing three pills in her children’s Halloween candy.

The mother told investigators she didn't know where the pills came from. Authorities said it did not appear that the pills were intentionally put in the trick-or-treat bag.

The pills were taken into evidence.

Last updated:   4 November 2014

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