Opinion: Is my candy a trick, or a treat?


This Halloween candy looks like your traditional treats, but will they turn out to be tricks? Photo by: Belen Hibbler

Julian Martinez and Belen Hibbler

Every year as Halloween creeps closer the topic of tampered-with candy resurfaces. Let’s debate.

Halloween time evokes the scary side in a lot of people, but most express it with a spooky costume. Who is using their scary side to put poison in children’s candy? It’s a popular topic each year as Halloween rolls around. Individuals hear this or that about tainted candy, but has anyone really had a first hand experience with it? 

Initially the anxiety roaming around the idea of poisoned candy didn’t bloom from real life instances. In the early 1970s the media started this nonsense as paranoia, no events took place to rationalize the fear. It was only after that horror stories started to sprout. 

In the early 1980s the Chicago Tylenol Murders started to occur and captured people’s attention. Victims of this incident thought they were taking Tylenol, but the capsules had been laced with potassium cyanide. None of the suspects were ever charged for the crime. The tragedy spiked even more worry for children’s candy during Halloween. 

Belen: Of course every year we hear our parents, our friends or whoever else bringing up the dangers of taking candy from strangers, even if it is on Halloween. We’re taught to check the candy and make sure that nothing looks suspicious. I’ve never found anything questionable aside from a gummy eyeball or two.

Julian: Speculation and fear of tampered-with Halloween treats float up to society’s surface every year around this time. Why would it if it wasn’t true? “One Halloween in sixth grade I was walking around with my friends, snacking on candy while trick or treating. While chewing a piece of chocolate I bit down on this really hard thing. I spit the candy out and looked at the wrapper and it was really off putting so I threw it on the ground and kept going. To be honest I’m not sure what it was but it didn’t taste right,” said junior Sofia S’gro. 

Julian: There are reasons our parents would check to make sure we weren’t in danger after we brought our candy home from running around the neighborhood. People should continue to take these precautions because you never know what kinds of sick people are out there in the world. 

Julian: I’ve never had a near death experience with my Halloween candy, only delightful experiences, but I’m smart enough to know that they have happened before and it’s a scary thing. 

Belen: Despite hearing all the buzz about this topic, I don’t think this is something that actually happens every year. Of course there had to have been some incidents to get the controversial ball rolling, but it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Mel Shawgo, a junior at VHS said,  “I haven’t really heard much about tampered candy of course beyond warnings from my mom. I’ve never known anyone to get stuff that’s been tampered with.”

100 people answered an Instagram poll. The majority haven’t had any experience with tainted Halloween candy. Graphic by: Belen Hibbler

Julian: The events to support the fear of being poisoned probably aren’t like the basic ideas that might be in one’s head. There hasn’t been specific intentions by strangers to hurt kids thus far, but there have been mishaps that have occurred. There are no confirmed murders of children by strangers. Although many cases reported have been over exaggerated, that doesn’t completely invalidate them of authenticity. 

There have been cases of people accidentally passing out tainted candy, such as an instance where ant poison was given out to teenagers as a gag gift. Ill-intent or not, it’s still concerning. 

Belen: My parents always taught me to check my candy before digging in and the results I got year after year are why I think that tampered candy is essentially a myth. I have never come across anything weird in my candy, that is unless it was in an Almond Joy because why would I eat that? Coconut in candy should be a crime. 

Belen: Freshman Isabel Connell said, “I don’t know anyone directly who this has happened to.”

Julian: I’ve always checked to make sure my candy hadn’t been opened or wasn’t suspicious looking. If you don’t, well you must have a death wish or something. “I have heard that a lot of people tamper with Halloween candy then give it out to children. I believe it’s real,” said Connell. 

Belen: Do I believe that it’s happened before? Yes, I can admit to facts. For example, a kid by the name of Timothy O’Bryan in Houston Texas died October 31, 1974 by the doing of his own father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan. O’Bryan gave his son a Pixy Stick laced with cyanide before putting him to bed. This tragic story is very real and I don’t have any intentions of invalidating it. The thing about this case is that it wasn’t a stranger attempting to murder a child, it was a father so it’s different. 

Belen: So, if you think your family member is holding some type of grudge against you whether it’s because you keep leaving the toilet seat up or you forgot to leave the chicken out to thaw, maybe you should be a bit worried as Halloween approaches. Otherwise, I don’t think you’re to worry about a random stranger attempting to poison you. 

Julian: Then again, maybe you’ll have to worry about a random stranger unintentionally poisoning you. Stay safe y’all. 

What do you think, is it facts or fiction?