Childhood is a magical time. One of the things that makes it so special is Halloween. Once a year, kids get to dress up like their favorite heroes and villains and go door-to-door for free candy. What’s not to like?
At its best, Halloween is a joyful occasion. But there’s always been a sense of danger, as well.
First of all, you had to brave the darkness.
Secondly, you wore a highly flammable costume (according to the package it came in). One could burst into flames at any moment!
And then there were the stories. From the playground to the news on TV, people were panicked about apples with razorblades making it into our trick-or-treat bags.
But was it ever real?
Halloween Treats Before the “Incident”
Back in the days before the razorblade “incident,” your Halloween haul was likely to include home-made cookies, popcorn balls, and candied – or caramel – apples.
Razorblades in Apples
Sometime in the1960s, word spread about razorblades being found in apples that had been handed out as treats on Halloween. Something that could horribly wound whoever took a bite.
By the 1970s, it was a full-blown panic, with some communities calling for a ban on trick-or-treating to protect the children. But it’s not easy to kill a tradition.
Schools taught students – and parents – how to inspect their candy for tampering.
And legislatures in California (1971) and New Jersey (1982) passed laws against “Halloween sadism.”
Razorblades in Apples – Fact or Fiction?
Research by Joel Best and Gerald T. Horiuchi came to the conclusion that Halloween sadism, such as the razorblades in apples story, can be viewed as an urban legend.
And even when evidence of such tampering was presented, it would most often turn out to be a hoax.
Most people do not want to bring harm to anyone, most especially not kids.
But the razorblade rumor led to the demise of organic and homemade Halloween treats.
How Tylenol Changed Halloween
In 1982, a very real “Tylenol Scare” gripped the nation after seven people ingested Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide.
Somehow the culprit had gotten the deadly poison through the Tylenol box, into the bottle, and onto store shelves where an unsuspecting public dropped the deadly cocktail into their grocery basket.
The murders happened in Chicago, but there was a nationwide recall of Tylenol because nobody knew how widespread the problem would be.
Tampering with a product officially became a crime in 1982.
By 1989, legislation mandated tamper-proof packaging.
The Tylenol killer was never found. And the murders renewed concern about poisoned candy and razorblades in apples, and soon “safe alternative” trick-or-treat experiences at malls, schools, and churches were born. These have now become tradition.
Have Halloween Treats Ever Been Tampered With?
Yes. As referenced above, people have put razorblades in apples and then pretended to be the victims.
And in 2019, a man in Waterbury, Connecticut was arrested for allegedly handing out candy and razorblades – an accident, he says.
Halloween is probably as safe as any other day in the United States.
Your neighbors aren’t likely to poison your kids. For one thing, you know where they live.
But if it makes you feel better, take your kids to an organized “trunk or treat” type event.
Or trade out their candy for candy you bought (throw the other candy away).
Or simply inspect the candy your neighbors handed out before letting your children go wild with it.
9 Amusing Halloween Displays You’ll See Around Your Neighborhood
Trick-or-treaters will have no doubt these houses will be passing out candy. And with displays so elaborate, they may get a full-sized Butterfinger.