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Now You Know Who to Blame for Ruining Your Halloween
October 26, 2012 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Ronald Clark O'Bryan: The Man Who Ruined Halloween, the source of the urban legends about random Halloween poisonings and sadism
posted by jonp72 (71 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
My Mom was checking my candy long before this creep came along. Even as a kid in the 60's, the urban tale of razor blades in apples was legend among us kids.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:28 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Huh. Wikipedia would agree with Thorzdad:

Development of the candy tampering myth
Several events fostered the candy tampering myth.

The first event took place in 1964, where an annoyed Long Island, New York housewife started giving out packages of inedible objects to children whom she believed were too old to be trick-or-treating. The packages contained items such as steel wool, dog biscuits, and ant buttons (which were clearly labeled with the word ”poison”). Though nobody was injured, she was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to endangering children. The same year saw reports of lye-filled bubble gum being handed out in Detroit and rat poison being given in Philadelphia.[2]

The second milestone in the spread of the candy tampering myths was an article published in the New York Times in 1970. This article claimed that "Those Halloween goodies that children collect this weekend on their rounds of ‘trick or treating’ may bring them more horror than happiness", and provided specific examples of potential tamperings.[3]

posted by Floydd at 8:32 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Indeed, it sounds to me like the Urban Legends caused him to think he could get away with blaming the murder on some stranger.

People like this and Susan Smith types are in some ways victims of cultural programing and in other ways just the worst kind of people.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeesh, that Malefactor's Register story is terribly written. Paragraphs with multiple subjects, sentences based on assumed reader knowledge, citations to authority without evidence.
posted by mwhybark at 8:36 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was a child in the 80s and secretly hoped to find a piece of candy with a razor blade in it. I wasn't sure how exactly it would work, though, since I had only seen my Dad's electric shaver.
posted by michaelh at 8:41 AM on October 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's kind of sad that people trust corporations to hand out candy to their kids at malls more than their own neighbors.
posted by empath at 8:43 AM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wasn't sure how exactly it would work, though, since I had only seen my Dad's electric shaver.

Haha I definitely had a mental image of an apple with a big yellow Bic Sensitive sticking out of it, and wondering what kind of dipshit kid would put that in his mouth
posted by theodolite at 8:45 AM on October 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


I was three (1982) when I wouldn't accept a candy apple from my grandmotherly next door neighbor because "it's not wrapped, it might have a razor blade inside." My parents were mortified, I'm sure. I don't remember how she reacted, though.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:50 AM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was going to give out Apple iPhones and Droid Razrs, but I could see how that might cause confusion. I'll just stick with those orange circus peanuts that taste like styrofoam.
posted by justkevin at 8:53 AM on October 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't remember how she reacted, though.

Perhaps she switched to cyanide the following year?
posted by orme at 8:53 AM on October 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Every year there is all that bullshit about a war on Christmas because people say Happy Holidays, but there is for reals a fucking war on Halloween. Kids don't walk around neighborhoods knocking on doors anymore, they go to lame "trunk or treats" at churches or malls. My daughter's class had a sign up yesterday: "We are having our Fall Party on October 31st" WTF? A party on October 31st is not a fall party it is a motherfucking Halloween party and you should call it that. Who is offended by Halloween? What is not to like about it? Ghosts, pumpkins, fun-sized candy bars, running around with your friends. Who has a problem with these things? When is Bill O'Reilly going to address this political correctness gone wild? I want my Halloween back!

Also, there are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
posted by ND¢ at 8:57 AM on October 26, 2012 [67 favorites]


Yes, but should we repatriate land that we've stolen from others? Should we trade it to bordering nations for access to things like strategic maple syrup reserves? Or should we sell it to the highest bidders?

show all work.
posted by elizardbits at 8:59 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have welcomed some candy with a razor blade in it.

Better than the dental floss and miniature toothbrushes from the dentist down the street.
Now that's the real crime on Halloween.
posted by madajb at 8:59 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


madajb: "I would have welcomed some candy with a razor blade in it.

Better than the dental floss and miniature toothbrushes from the dentist down the street.
Now that's the real crime on Halloween.
"

Unique trick-or-treat items I received as a kid: posted by wcfields at 9:07 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


This explains why, in the early 60's, my father would carefully inspect all our Halloween candy. Several types were routinely seized. He said it was to protect us from harm.

As it turns out, molasses kisses are dangerous for children, but are perfectly safe if consumed by an adult.
posted by Pablo MacWilliams at 9:09 AM on October 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


Sometimes I grumble about where I grew up, but other times I realize that in some respects it was bloody idyllic - all the families knew each other so no one worried about the poisoned candy crap -- the only iffy house were the weird people in the A-frame who were never home on Halloween anyway - and my street was so safe that in the late 80's, total strangers from other towns started bringing their kids trick-or-treating on my block because they'd heard they wouldn't have to worry about danger. The biggest danger we faced was the mean kid conducting candy raids on us.

I think my brother's family is on a similar street though - I hope my niece and nephew get that because it rocked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who is offended by Halloween?

I see you're not from the Bible Belt. The answer is "lots of people, but all people you can safely ignore."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:15 AM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, but should we repatriate land that we've stolen from others? Should we trade it to bordering nations for access to things like strategic maple syrup reserves? Or should we sell it to the highest bidders?

It should be annexed by states with smaller area but larger population. As there's already a Wyoming, Rhode Island, we claim the Dakota that sucks less.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:19 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


theodolite: I wasn't sure how exactly it would work, though, since I had only seen my Dad's electric shaver.

Haha I definitely had a mental image of an apple with a big yellow Bic Sensitive sticking out of it, and wondering what kind of dipshit kid would put that in his mouth
I have ALWAYS wanted to hand those out. Fear of prosecution by idiots is the only thing stopping me.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 AM on October 26, 2012


Kids in our neighbourhood run around trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en. The big difference between now and when I was a kid is they have their parents with them. I'll take my 9 year old out, whereas by her age I had long been roaming with a pack of friends.

When she first started trick-or-treating and of course wanted to eat candy as we walked along, I gave her the staple line I had gotten as a kid, which was you can't eat while you're on the road because you have to wait to get home and check it all first. And as the words were coming out of my mouth I realised "Holy shit, this is just something grown-ups say so the kid doesn't eat candy for four hours straight."

Of course, I am also the parent who invented The Seven Days of Hallowe'en, the very common and well-known tradition, that certainly all of her friends had at their houses, too, wherein one puts seven little stashes of candy aside, one for each day in the first week of November, and the rest of the candy goes away. She still believes this is a thing! I can only imagine the jig will finally be up this year.
posted by looli at 9:29 AM on October 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, there are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.

West Virginia + Virginia = Wirginia
North Carolina + South Carolina = Sweet Carolina.
North Dakota + South Dakota = South Canada.
posted by madajb at 9:30 AM on October 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


North Dakota + South Dakota = South Canada.

IDK, I quite like "Outer Cangolia".
posted by elizardbits at 9:36 AM on October 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I really want to make caramel apple onions this year, does that make me a bad person?
posted by oneironaut at 9:39 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I designed a t-shirt about the phenomenon/legend of razor blades etc. being stuck in candy, that was for sale on Shirt.Woot a few weeks ago. It's no longer available so I am comfortable linking to it. I was amazed and honestly sort of troubled by how ANGRY people were about it. There were people saying they would never buy anything from Woot again, saying I should be ashamed, saying I was sick, saying I'd be sorry when someone saw the shirt and went on a kid-killing rampage, and so on. It was crazy.

They'd keep pointing to the articles about some 15 year old who found (but did not ingest!) a razor in a Reese's (My bullshit alarm goes wild on this one - a 15 year old? He so obviously planted it!) pretty recently, and to the Snopes article that has a status of TRUE, and then goes on to show research that it is nearly completely NOT true and that the few cases that seem true are nearly certainly frauds or jokes, and then the author of the page goes on to scold everyone about how 1982 was when this all really exploded, because of the (real, but totally unrelated!) Tylenol poisonings, and says how there have been many incidents, but doesn't point to any. Way to go, Snopes.

Anyway, interesting stuff, and for many of us who are a certain age, fraught with a sort of primal and hilariously unfounded terror.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:40 AM on October 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can we get Franklin back as a state?

Or a derail about orange circus peanuts? Oh, here's one, hooray!
posted by Melismata at 9:44 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have been on a tear on the topic ever since reading Joel Best on Halloween Sadism nearly three decades ago. phoning up local TV news programs everytime they ran a segment on some local hospital x-raying Halloween candy preded by with some anchor bemoaning these times we live in...

Luckily, I was born before these legends were spread. Halloween was truly wondeful then. Well, except for the elderly couple that made every kid sign their name before handing them a popcorn ball. A popcorn ball! Worst Halloween treat ever, with apples a close second. Hell, an apple without a razor blade was awful enough.

But I do remember trick or treating at the dilapidated mansion of Heber Moss, my town's Boo Radley, a crazy scion of on our town's founding families, who walked year round in a cap with ear flaps down, a red plaid hunter's coat, dirty black jeans and those rubber boots with snaps we kids wore to school on rainy day -- his with the snaps open.

We went up to his door on a dare once and were led into his kitchen, where an upended flashlight provided the only illumination, and given a choice between an orange jelly bean and a black jelly bean. And it was all so spooky, we didn't mind. It was, I realize now, my first exposure to performance art.

Every year there is all that bullshit about a war on Christmas because people say Happy Holidays, but there is for reals a fucking war on Halloween.

The war on Halloween is a subset of the war on children having fun. Wearing a mask and having a holiday where children get to break the rules is what Halloween should be all about. But now we have killed Halloween for kids while turning it into the second biggest adult holiday of the year, as far as per capita spending is concerned.

And, speaking of the war on children, have you seen today's playgrounds ? Slides and swing sets now have a maximum height of 8 feet. Seattle used to have the greatest swings in its parks -- now the only one left is in Madison Park. Anxious parents and professional killjoys have Nerfed all the fun out of childhood. Pretty soon, they'll have the little tykes wearing crash helmets at all times -- after all, it would be safer, you know.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't celebrate Halloween.


But if you come to my door on October 31, there will be candy. (If you DON'T come to my door, I will have candy. :D)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or a derail about orange circus peanuts?

those hideous orange things are the real crime here, people.
posted by elizardbits at 9:49 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mounds bars are always poisonous, that's why my children had to give them to me. On a total derail, what's up with the adults trick or treating WITH the kids? I mean, you can only claim so many sick kids at home that you are collecting for...so why can't one of the other members of your brood just share?
posted by Kokopuff at 9:51 AM on October 26, 2012


But let it be noted that the real danger to children on Halloween is drivers as Best notes that:
children’s risk of being struck by a car is four times higher on Halloween than on other nights... An analysis of “pediatric holiday-related injuries” in emergency rooms found that, among eight holidays, Halloween ranked fourth in the number of injuries, behind Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July, and just ahead of Easter...
Heh, just ahead of Easter -- coming soon: the War on Peeps and Easter Eggs.
posted by y2karl at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2012


We are already embroiled in the neverending war against kinder eggs.
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 AM on October 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think maybe there is communism inside the eggs or something.
posted by elizardbits at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


North Carolina + South Carolina = Sweet Carolina.

Dear Madajb,

You go to hell.

Sincerely,
The Good People of the Old North State
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kids trick or treat in my neighbourhood, with an adult. The adults on my block hang out together, teasing and threathening to steal the good candy. About the only difference from when I was a kid back in the Dark Ages (60's) is that we go inside before the big kids come around.

Inner city Baltimore, primarily Black and poor. We have a great time.
posted by QIbHom at 9:59 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


We just tell my daughter that she can only have a few pieces of candy while trick or treating and that the rest will be saved for another time. She just doesn't know that the "other time" is after she goes to bed while my wife and I divvy up her stash.

To be fair, we do save some of it for her. And a lot of the chocolate goes into the freezer.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:02 AM on October 26, 2012


We live in a good trick or treating neighborhood. There's even a big house on the lake where the lady (supposedly her husband was in the Jewish mafia, but I'm skeptical because, come on, this is Minneapolis, even though the source is probably reliable) gives out movie-theater sized boxes of candy and lets the kids pick. Her house has been on the market for a few years and every kid in the neighborhood is terrified that it will sell and that the new owners won't be as generous.

We do walk around with the kids but more because it's really dark here early at this time of year, than for any other reason. And because it's a great excuse to wander around with the other parents, with our coat pockets full of beers.

I realized that I have never actually checked their candy. I guess that particular fear just never really struck me as worth having. Generally we finish up at someone's house, finish our last pocket-beers while the kids go absolutely apeshit crazy eating as much candy as they can shovel in, and then we drag their over-sugared, probably-crying-by-that-point asses home and throw them in bed.
posted by padraigin at 10:02 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


On a total derail, what's up with the adults trick or treating WITH the kids?

I've always offered the moms and dads a cup of mulled wine or (spiked) cider. It's something my parents and many others in the neighborhood always did (Washington, DC, 70's/80s), and always seemed entirely normal to me.
posted by toxic at 10:09 AM on October 26, 2012


I was three (1982) when I wouldn't accept a candy apple from my grandmotherly next door neighbor because "it's not wrapped, it might have a razor blade inside." My parents were mortified, I'm sure. I don't remember how she reacted, though.

My mom had to stop giving out her delicious popcorn balls because parents & kids wouldn't take them. The kids were the losers in that - the popcorn balls were much better than the cheapest storebought candies she gave out later.
posted by jb at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2012


A poisoned Pixy Stix?? Get it?? Styx??
posted by ubiquity at 10:32 AM on October 26, 2012


I've always offered the moms and dads a cup of mulled wine or (spiked) cider. It's something my parents and many others in the neighborhood always did (Washington, DC, 70's/80s), and always seemed entirely normal to me.

One year I had my whole pirate crew over for a Halloween party. When trick-or-treaters came to the door, we gave chocolate coins to the kids and miniature bottles of rum to the grown-ups.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:33 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unique trick-or-treat items I received as a kid:
The local Pepsi Co Bottling CEO handed out cans of, you guessed it, Pepsi
50¢ pieces
Wind-up Chattering Teeth
Gak / Floam / Play-dough


We used to have the owners of a local bakery in the neighborhood. They gave all teh local kids fresh donuts.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2012


I've always offered the moms and dads a cup of mulled wine or (spiked) cider. It's something my parents and many others in the neighborhood always did (Washington, DC, 70's/80s), and always seemed entirely normal to me.

In my 'hood it always ended up that about half the fathers got House Duty and the other half got Kid Escort Duty, but all the fathers knew each other, so every time we stopped in at a house where one of the dads was handing out candy they'd also offer a shot to the fathers bringing the kids around.

There was one year when our trick-or-treating party got home and Mom had to deal with all of the kids hopped up on sugar and all of the fathers doing drunken imitations of Dunkin' Donuts ads. I think she just sighed, sent home whoever didn't live at our house, and sent Dad down to the basement rec room with a huge mug of coffee while she handled getting my brother and I ready for bed. History does not record if she dealt with Dad any further.

But for a couple Halloweens after, the random phrase "Do you have any CREEEEEEEEEM FILLLLLLLLED donuts?" made my mother roll her eyes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


My brothers and I used to take a pillowcase each as a candy bag. We'd fill the suckers as full as we could get 'em while still being able to lift the bags. Then we'd go home, empty them onto the bedroom floor, and go back out to hit the OTHER side of town.

If the candy poisoning thing were a real, actual concern, all three of us would be dead several times over. What corporeal remains we left behind would have been 3/4ths razor blades and crushed glass.

Actually I'm surprised not that we weren't poisoned, but that all three of us survived childhood without ending up diabetic. Free candy and youthful optimism... the '80s were fun for us, at least.

My son on the other hand, I'm checking the HELL out of his candy. Everything will be triaged. Group A, stuff he can eat: A small, small group indeed. Group B, candy best left to more experienced individuals, AKA chocolate for Mom and Dad. Group C, stuff that will be brought to work and thrown in the communal candy jar lest it sit forever untouched in a bag at home (AKA excess Tootsie Rolls and anything else barely-edible-wax-based).
posted by caution live frogs at 10:53 AM on October 26, 2012



I have ALWAYS wanted to hand those out. Fear of prosecution by idiots is the only thing stopping me.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 AM on 10/26


Wait, I've got it. How much would a bunch of old Motorola Razr phones cost now?
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2012


I've always offered the moms and dads a cup of mulled wine or (spiked) cider.

We go up to my brother's with the kids, even though it is an hour drive. Our neighborhood is mostly older folks with lights off, and my brother works at a brewery and has beer for the parents.

It seems to work out well.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:10 AM on October 26, 2012


I have carefully cultivated an audience for my house.

It's tricky, because I live in a small apartment building of disaffected loners, including two of my exes, my sister's ex-husband, and a disgruntled paleoconservative DH Lawrence scholar who works nights as a janitor, and I am literally the only person home on Halloween who has any enthusiasm for the holiday. I decorate, albeit in a restrained way, I wear my home-sewn nun's habit, and I rig up speakers to play atmospheric music and sound effects. In the past, I hid a theremin under the porch that would wooooOOOOOO as the youth of America tromped across those well-worn boards, but I've been in an anti-theremin place for a while, so I've left that one out for the last few.

Everyone in the country became a panicky ninny in the eighties, and it's sad to me that people believe the worst about their neighbors, despite the fact that I am quite obviously a nice and lovely person. Kids are drowning under the heavy blankets of fear that well-meaning parents can't help but perpetuate, but I have worked out my strategy on a microscopic level. I've reached out to the parents in the area, via the people I already know, and I make sure to introduce myself at our local series of Epiphany parties every year.

I also spend a hell of a lot on candy. You come to my house, you get the good stuff—the high end, vintage fun (Zotz!), and very little of the cheap crap that comes in those extra huge bags. If you're fifteen and up, dressed as a "bum," wearing no costume and carrying a pillowcase, or wearing the modern equivalent of those shitty, shitty Ben Cooper costumes bought for the children of the seventies who were mainly contraception failures, the "Scream" mask, you get Tootsie Rolls, but even there, I give the multi-flavored kind, as I'm not a complete pedant.

From me, you get a handful, not a single dainty piece, dangled before you like the offal of the confectionery one percent, and if your costume kicks butt or your attitude is great, you can pick what you want. For some people, this is probably a sign of something bad. Being nice to children means you're a pedo. I feel sad when the unfamiliar families pause, sizing up the place, then pass me by, but I no longer yell "it's okay, we're nice!" There's only so much you can do. What a fucked up country this is.

I was recently editing a piece I'm writing about my ongoing adolescent attempts to get the neighbors to molest me, to no avail, and it occurred to me that such a piece would pretty much be the death knell to my career as a trick-or-treat service provider, but you're always suspect. If you're nice, you're suspect. If you're grouchy, you're suspect. If you ever spent 1979 in cut-off jeans shorts manufacturing clumsiness in order to repeatedly pick up things from the ground while your agonizingly hot nineteen year-old neighbors worked on their Barracudas because your lying Sunday School teacher told you that that sort of thing gets kids molested by older boys, you're suspect.

Fuck it all—I love Halloween, and my house has the best candy.
posted by sonascope at 11:38 AM on October 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'm turning off all the lights and sitting in the basement. I'm keeping the candy to myself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:47 AM on October 26, 2012


Went to Walgreens and came back with armloads of snickers, twix and kitkat. My lady asked if it was for the kids, I said yes and then immediately put all the bags in the freezer... you know... so they stay fresh?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:57 AM on October 26, 2012


Also this time of year, I'm reminded of a comedian who said he liked to go up to little children at the supermarket eyeing the candy rack and say, "I can buy all the candy you see right now, and when you're as old as me, you can too. You just won't want to." And then just walk away.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:59 AM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Every year when I talk to my mom after Halloween she complains that they had fewer visitors than before (she keeps track). I suspect part of it is because the neighborhood has been aging, and part of it is related to the fact that the park down the street covered up the creek that used to run through it and replaced the merry-go-round, tornado slide, and jungle gym with some plastic thing.
posted by ckape at 12:00 PM on October 26, 2012


There was a Halloween a couple of years ago that fell on a Sunday, and there was a Vikings game with a late start. It was painfully obvious in my neighborhood that the parents were following the game down to the last minute before going out trick-or-treating with the kids. I ended up with a lot of surplus candy that year due to the abbreviated evening.
posted by gimonca at 12:03 PM on October 26, 2012


The candy scare doesn't seem to be a factor where I live--which is surprising, since I live in Berkeley, where parents are often really over-the-top about concern trolling and the safety of their children. I did wonder if that's why no one ever took the really nice goodie bags I used to make for the half-dozen kids who came to the door each year, but then my partner pointed out that the goodie bags probably aren't accepted because you can't tell what's inside. So the kids reach for the bowl of whatever sugary goodness I got at Costco and pretend they don't see me handing them a goodie bag because they have no idea that that's where the really good stuff is--full-sized candy bars, fancy local stuff, bubbles, cool toys. Which is fine; I've started putting some of the good stuff in the bowl so it's obvious, and using the rest of it to make goodie bags for my adult friends, who always appreciate them.

I don't know what's up with the fact that none of the kids who come to my door are actually from my neighborhood, though. Those kids get herded into cars and driven somewhere else, and never make it to any of the houses on our (nice, residential, half-DINK and half-families-with-kids) block. Insultingly, I once watched this happen while I was standing on my front stoop, in costume, next to my jack-o-lantern, with a bowl of candy in my arms. The parents led their kids outside, waved at me and wished me a Happy Halloween, then put the kids in the car and drove off. I just don't even!
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:23 PM on October 26, 2012


....This year, it looks like it's someone named Sandy who's ruining Halloween for my neighborhood....

(My Brooklyn neighborhood is actually really awesome - we have dueling stage shows set up on people's sidewalks and lots of kids in homemade costumes and even a dog costume parade on the weekend and everything. You have lots of adults getting into costume and going out just to go walking around and look at stuff, too; the hurricane is REALLY gonna mess with that. Dammit.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on October 26, 2012


I won't be handing out candy on Wednesday; instead I'm making sure to stock up on candy for 11 November: Sint Maarten.

Few parents coming around with their kids on their candy routes here; instead it's often bored teenage boys or girls shepherding their younger siblings around the neighbourhood. What I like is that for a holiday that is very much a regional celebration -- I've never really experienced it until I moved to Amsterdam-Noord -- the children that come round are a neat crosssection of the neighbourhood I live in; candy thriumps everything.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2012


On a total derail, what's up with the adults trick or treating WITH the kids? I mean, you can only claim so many sick kids at home that you are collecting for...so why can't one of the other members of your brood just share?

I always give candy to older siblings (teenagers usually) who have obviously been dragooned into taking the younger kids trick or treating. It seems only fair.
Also, if you are a dad that has been "decorated" as a princess by your daughter, you're gonna get a kit-kat.
posted by madajb at 12:56 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dear Madajb,

You go to hell.

Sincerely,
The Good People of the Old North State


Jeez, it's usually only Red Sox fans that are sick of Neil Diamond.
posted by madajb at 12:58 PM on October 26, 2012


Development of the candy tampering myth
Several events fostered the candy tampering myth.

The first event took place in 1964


Yup. There was plenty of paranoia about this in the mid 1960s. Between the dangerous-candy-paranoia, drug-paranoia, street-crime-paranoia, and egadsthatllannoia, etc. at some point -- I don't quite remember when -- Trick or Treat got switched to Sunday afternoon in for a few years. Disguises that could've been pretty convicing at night were just a drag in broad daylight, but at least we were safe from . . . whatever was freaking out the grups.

The neighbor lady who used to hand out home made popcorn balls didn't have any takers. . . everything had to be pre-packaged and sealed or it'd get pitched.

Nobody could point to anything bad that has actually happened, of course.

Sometimes guys'd bring apples to school with razor blades embedded in 'em and claim they'd got 'em out trick or treating. Of course, they couldn't tell you from which house and hadn't mentioned it to their parents . . .

Then the asteroid Icarus hit the Earth in '68 and put us all out of our misery. The rest of history since then is a computer simulation of what would have happened if LBJ hadn't taken Martin X's advice and pullled out of Indochina to pay for the War on Poverty. Sorry, if you weren't born yet, you're just a hologram.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Dad used to encourage us kids to go out trick-or-treating when we were at that iffy age of "are we too old for this or not?" Of course his ulterior motive was his sweet tooth; he ate any and all candy, no matter how gross (including Necco Wafers, Circus Peanuts, Mounds Bars, Mary Janes, and Sno-Caps). Once we kids had plucked out the stuff we liked, he'd keep the bags near his chair (the Daddy chair near the TV, just about every house had one in those days) and munch on the stuff throughout November.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:36 PM on October 26, 2012


none of the kids who come to my door are actually from my neighborhood, though. Those kids get herded into cars and driven somewhere else, and never make it to any of the houses on our (nice, residential, half-DINK and half-families-with-kids) block.

We get the opposite effect. We're on a city street with an active street association (NOT a HOA -- just neighbors who cooperate and have fun). For example, for T-or-T, there's always a designated 'safe house' at each end of the street.

There are some not-so-nice neighborhoods nearby and in consequence of our street's rep, each year without fail an armada of church busses arrive full of (usually) nice kids from rougher neighborhoods who come to get the T-or-T experience in a 'safer' environment.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:48 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two things:

1. On the razor blade candy. My 6yo kid came home today with eyes like saucers. The POLICE had been at school telling all the kids about the POISON in candy and not to eat the chips in deflated bags because of the POISON and to throw out the apples because of the RAZORS. I have never seen him so happy or excited. Finally real danger in his life, not just a video game. I couldn't burst his bubble and assured him I would check all his candy very carefully.

2. On the neighbourhood and meeting the neighbours. Three years ago, just after we moved here and before we had a kid in school we had our first trick or treaters. One kid, about 8 years old, waited until he got his handful of candy before he looked me the eye and said "So there's no dad at this house? That really weird". And that's how I knew we were the famous lesbians on our block.
posted by Cuke at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


WARNING!

WE HAVE been informed that a very dangerous drug is being circulated illegally in some parts of New England. You should be aware of it's presence in the area and its severe danger to all who might come in contact with the substance. Please caution your children to be on the alert for any materials that fall into the category described and to make note of the individual who might pass it on to them.

MICKEY MOUSE ACID (L.S.D.) has been circulated widely throughout some parts of New England as a part of or in the form of a "sticker" or label. It may be available to school age children.

DO NOT HANDLE!!! CONTACT WITH MOISTURE AND SKIN COULD CAUSE THE SAME EFFECT AS TAKING A DOSE OF ACID ORALLY!!! The picture is Mickey Mouse in the Walt Disney Movie-- "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from "Fantasia". The actual size is 1/2" square. Mickey Mouse is wearing a red gown, blue hat, yellow shoes, and has the appearance of a "lick and stick tatoo". All Disney Cartoon characters have been used in the distribution of this LSD.

If you have seen this substance, know the whereabouts of its, or have any information regarding it, please call your local Police Department at once.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:41 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing about that lick-and-stick tattoo bullshit is that I remember distinctly hearing it from panicky, dour-faced teachers as we were getting on our school bus in 1980 or so. You'd hope people would understand that Snopes exists now, but Americans love a good panic.

I'm surprised we're not all still freaking out about Italian anarchists.

I love my country, but we're beset with moronism.
posted by sonascope at 6:20 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


sonascope, a few years ago, I saw the Blue Star Acid story run on page 2 of my local newspaper. It's a crappy Gannett newspaper. I phoned the editor to call them a bunch of damn idiots who didn't bother to check their facts. He didn't want to hear it. They never retracted it and tried to pretend it never happened.

And it may surprise you, I recall a Junior High teacher who often ranted at length about those damn commie wops Sacco and Vanzetti.

BTW, this is more my idea of a Halloween prank. I have never done this, I have never seen anyone do this, but it seems like a hilarious and mostly harmless idea.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


charlie don't surf, that link caused both my husband and myself to collapse into hysterical tears of laughter.


If anyone ever did that, they'd be buttheads. Hilarious, hysterically funny buttheads.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:49 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alas, that is a prank that can never happen. Nobody would ever eat a candy apple, for fear of razor blades.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Slides and swing sets now have a maximum height of 8 feet. Seattle used to have the greatest swings in its parks -- now the only one left is in Madison Park.

What a Seattle park designer explained to me as the problem with adult-size swings is that they block out a very large footprint, for the number of users. But it sounded like they're still a design option. Or are the ones in Madison Park some special primo swing?

How high is the top of that rope structure at Golden Gardens, twelve feet? And for that matter there's the (unbelayed) climbing wall strip at Matthews Beach that's at least ten feet. That one makes parents nervous. Playgrounds are getting more careful about impact surfaces, but I haven't seen yet that they're getting rid of height.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:22 PM on October 26, 2012


BTW, this is more my idea of a Halloween prank. I have never done this, I have never seen anyone do this, but it seems like a hilarious and mostly harmless idea.

I tried to post this to Facebook but it blocked me saying the link was Flagged as abusive or spammy !
posted by Bwithh at 5:21 PM on October 27, 2012


I would have welcomed some candy with a razor blade in it.


As long as it's clearly labeled and is one of those Quatros with three blades I'll take these. Those fuckers are expensive.

Sociological Images posted something about studying these myths:
Halloween Sadism, when you think of it, is a great thing to worry about, because there are people who are so crazy that they will poison your children, but they only come out once a year. So if you get up on November 1st, look around your breakfast table, and everyone is still there, you can say, that's something I don't have to worry about for another 364 days.
posted by NoraReed at 6:32 PM on October 27, 2012


When I was a kid, several years my dog ate all my Halloween candy the first day I went back to school.

I do not blame my parents for gorging themselves and then selling out the dog, because on more than one occasion my mom was still cleaning up wrapper-studded Labrador barf as I walked in, with a rueful dog sleeping it off in another room.

So after trick-or-treating my kids get to eat one or two treats before bed, and we don't even have a dog.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a Seattle park designer explained to me as the problem with adult-size swings is that they block out a very large footprint, for the number of users.

Well, that's another gripe -- damn playgrouds are too small these days. We must have had couple of acres of sand topped asphalt at my grade school. A huge swing, a huge slide, ninefoot monkey bars and a cool dead tree with three trunks, all smooth wood from generations using it for a clubhouse. And a huge wood and steel pipe merry-go-round
with a handrail all around which the big kids would grab and pump us around til we looked like astronauts in G training. Not like this but still..

Kids nowadays are so screwed.
posted by y2karl at 11:58 PM on October 30, 2012


Poorly written as it was, the Malefactor's Register article made me weep. Just call me an oversensitive dad but it breaks my heart to read about a kid being murdered by his own father.

In my own childhood I remember the Tylenol poisonings being the real spur for panic about Halloween candy with the rationale being that if someone is going to tamper with medicine then someone would inevitably poison candy too.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:53 PM on November 3, 2012


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