If only over-the-hill trick-or-treaters were a myth

Looking through your children’s Halloween candy for potential hazards makes sense, but any underlying fear of poison or razor blades seems to be misplaced. Health mythbusters and Indiana University Medical School physicians Aaron Carroll and Rachel Vreeman say “no evidence of genuine Halloween poisoning can be located.”

The Joker

The Joker

Carroll and Vreeman have written two books about health myths, “Don’t Swallow Your Gum!” and “Don’t Cross Your Eyes … They’ll Get Stuck That way!: And 75 Other health Myths Debunked.” They included a chapter about strangers poisoning Halloween candy. I found the paragraph below interesting.

Why did we become so afraid of tampered Halloween candy in the first place? News reports of Halloween candy tampering have been popping up since 1950. In one story from 1964, a woman named Helen Pfeil was arrested for what she had considered an obvious joke – giving packages containing dog biscuits, steel wool pads, and ant poison buttons (labelled with the word “poison”) to teenagers who she considered too old to be trick-or-treating. Since she meant no malice, she made sure to also tell the teenagers about her “joke,” and therefore no one got hurt. Even so, she was charged and sentenced for “endangering children.” While she hardly sounds like a sinister stranger just waiting to give an unsuspecting child a poisoned treat, the case was used as an example of the dangers of Halloween candy in the media.

Goldlocks, a schnoodle, costumed as a lion

Goldilocks the lion

Yeah, I get a bit annoyed when rude teen-agers stop by my house to stuff handfuls of candy into their pillowcases. And then there were the post-college-aged ‘naughty nurses’ who stopped by several years ago with no children in tow.

I’m wearing a lion tamer costume as I write, and I hope to take my “lion” with me when we walk my daughter around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, but I’ll leave the candy to the kids. Intern Brittany Aders prepared this news item about age considerations for trick-or-treating. She wrote that some states have laws banning children older than 12 from trick-or-treating.

“It could be some people trying to relive a childhood experience that was fun — or maybe they just like candy,” said Jonathon Beckmeyer, assistant professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. “Quite frankly, it probably makes people uncomfortable if you’re in your 20s and you’re coming trick-or-treating and don’t have kids with you.”

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