who tf is poisoning Halloween candy and why
Happy Halloween motherforkers. Welcome back to another Broiler Room where this week we dive into the hysteria around tainted candy.
We were lucky to grow up with arguably the best years for Halloween nostalgia. We’re the generation raised on Freddy, Jason and Mike Myers (both of em). A generation that happily handed over our adrenal glands to these titans of terror. But there was this other, much realer, horror surrounding the holiday- faceless weirdos fucking up candy to hurt kids. Parents, teachers, and morning news anchors warned us to be on the lookout for suspicious candy. Hospitals x-rayed candy bags for their community. Everyone warned us: the candy from strangers in your neighborhood could be poisoned or worse, hiding razor blades between those layers of nougat and chocolate.
In retrospect, it’s amazing we still wanted candy at all. But the fear mongering, like most fear mongering, said more about the people freaking out than it did about the actual state of the world. The only case of candy being used to poison kids was in 1974. Yes, the only one. Ronald O’Bryan from Texas gave cyanide-laced pixie sticks to 5 kids, including his own son and daughter, in an attempt to collect life insurance money. O’Bryan’s 8-year old son died but his daughter and the other children didn’t eat the candy and were fine. O’Bryan’s plan was discovered and he was convicted of capital murder. The story struck fear into the public, especially parents, and O’Bryan became known as The Man Who Killed Halloween. The news cycle did the rest.
The public fear of dangerous Halloween candy was thoroughly investigated by sociologist and criminal justice experts, Joel Best and Gerald T. Horiuchi, who could not find a single instance of this happening over the course of 30 years.
So why the fuck are we still seeing scare tactics like this? Why is LAPD using stock images and old bust photos to alarm otherwise calm citizens about candy? They’re completely unrelated and it’s fear mongering. That’d be like your dentist showing you photos of toothless hockey players and being like “they didn’t floss”.
This urban legend has legs though. Today it’s evolved from razor blade laced chocolate bars to convincing parents that lots of candy is just drugs in disguise with no evidence or cases to support the hysteria. And not to state the most obvious point here but drugs are expensive. Drug dealers aren’t known for giving them away for free. The whole thing is fucking stupid one it’s face.
If there’s anything to be upset about it’s that manufacturers are actually reducing the size of candy while the price remains the same. But this tainted candy narrative has been dramatically overblown and we should stop echoing it every year. The spirit of Halloween is about changing of the seasons, looking at fear in the face, honoring our dead, changing of the season, dressing kinda slutty and of course, candy. We absolutely recommend you inspect your kid’s candy collection because people are gross and give out raisins and toothpaste. There are plenty of things that rightly terrify you as a parent but candy doesn’t have to be one of them.
Tomorrow our paying subscribers will get a recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Challah French Toast which is as good as a king size candy bar. Have a safe and happy Halloween.
Stay spooky y’all.
Matt and Michelle