Poisoned Halloween Candy: It Doesn't Actually Happen

Posted by Amanda M. Fairbanks


From the annals of childhood phobias, you can now safely strike from the list the poisoning of Halloween candy by total strangers.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, reports on the continued fallacy of supposed "stranger danger":

Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger's Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money.)

Skenazy writes that "Halloween taught marketers that parents are willing to be warned about anything, no matter how preposterous, and then they're willing to be sold whatever solutions the market can come up with."

In reality, Elizabeth Letourneau, a researcher who studied crime statistics in 30 states, declared Halloween among the safest days of the year.

Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community. We can kill off Halloween, or we can accept that it isn't dangerous and give it back to the kids. Then maybe we can start giving them back the rest of their childhoods, too.

Growing up, what were your childhood fears? And did you think that your neighbors might actually be trying to poison you?

Photo (cc) via Flickr user kevindooley.