On Halloween, It's a parent's worst nightmare and a child's deepest fear. A little ghost or goblin receives poison candy while trick or treating and is harmed with physical and mental scars, or worse yet -- fails to survive at all.
These stories come in many forms right around the Halloween season. Newspaper and magazine stories repeat the annual warnings. E-mails are sent out, once again reminding parents and children that the innocent pleasure of trick-or-treating children get from Halloween is full of people wishing to hurt them.
One would have to believe that there is a mean old man with warts on his nose lurking around on his porch, waiting for his next "victim". He gets his revenge on the greedy little children with tampered Halloween candy.
Most of these stories consist of razor blades, needles, screws and other harmful things being inserted inside apples and popcorn balls. How about the arsenic or cyanide laced candy? Ever hear that one? These stories will once again be heard, with some variations as imaginations wander.
I remember trick-or-treating years ago, with a sense of security until the stories would emerge once again, making me afraid to turn the next corner. Somehow, it took the fun out of it and soon thereafter, I had no desire to go.
So how much basis is there to these poison Halloween candy stories? From what I've researched, there's very little evidence pointing directly to strangers intentionally tampering with Halloween candy, and less yet of someone attempting to harm the scores random of trick-or-treaters that turn up at their door.
Unfortunately, in 1974, Ronald Clark O'Bryan of Waco, TX did indeed add cyanide to candy, though he was no stranger to the victims. He distributed the poisoned candy to his daughter, son and two other children. His son, Timothy O'Bryan ingested the candy, resulting in death. Large life insurance policies point to a motive. Ronald, aka "The Candyman" paid for his unthinkable crime with a lethal injection in March, 1984.
While there's been many reports over the years, most of them were proved false alarms, or had an explanation that did not point to an individual trying to poison children trick-or treating. Some were actually pranks, pulled of by children attempting to alarm their parents!
Still, with the media attention and the possible threat, this Halloween urban legend will never die. Because of the ideas it may give some insane, vindictive person, precautions must be taken. Unfortunately, Halloween will never be the same as it was back in the good ol' days.