Should parents worry about poisoned Halloween candy?
No. It’s purely an urban legend that some people put poison, drugs, razor blades, needles and other dangerous objects and substances in Halloween candy before giving it out to children.
While there’s no harm in inspecting children’s candy, and parents may have more legitimate purposes, there’s no reason parents should be concerned about candy that’s been deliberately tampered with.
Then why do so many parents believe that?
The myth is largely based on hoaxes and real cases in which parents lied to the news media about how their children became sick or died. Parents have claimed their children were poisoned, only for investigators to later find there was another cause, like the child inadvertently eating a parent’s drugs, or a parent actually poisoning the child. Researchers have thoroughly followed up on almost every one of these stories and found them to be false.
“I have been unable to find a substantiated report of a child being killed or seriously injured by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating,” says the leading authority on this topic, Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at The University of Delaware.
Many media sources unintentionally perpetuate the perception that there is a threat by advising parents to thoroughly inspect Halloween candy. Some hospitals have done the same by offering to X-ray children’s candy to make sure nothing is inside.
Why should I trust you?
While our articles are short and direct so parents can quickly get the answers they need, there’s lengthy research behind everything we publish. If you’d like to learn more or check our facts, here are the best sources we found and used for this article:
- “Halloween Sadism: The Evidence,” from Joel Best, Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice, at the University of Delaware
- “The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends,” from the Social Problems journal.
- “Should we X-ray Halloween candy? Revisited.” from the Veterinary and Human Toxicology journal
- “Halloween Non-Poisonings” from Snopes.
- “Where Did the Fear of Poisoned Halloween Candy Come From?” from Smithsonian magazine.
- “Poisoned Halloween Candy: Trick, Treat or Myth?” from Live Science.
- “The Poisoned Candy Expert Is Pretty Sure No One’s Trying to Kill Your Kids on Halloween,” from Munchies, a Vice publication.