Halloween can be a scary time: Ghosts, witches, haunted houses... clowns. While trick-or-treating should be an innocent activity for neighborhood kids, the costumed candy hunt often comes with a list of warnings from parents based on a few notorious dangers associated with the act.
Unfortunately, not all neighbors are trustworthy — and a few bad apples can ruin the Halloween tradition for everyone. For example: The rumor of razor blades in Halloween candy is, unfortunately, not an urban myth perpetuated by '90s advice columnists — but it is an extremely rare occurrence.
A recent tale of of tinkered-with trick-or-treating
On Halloween in 2015, parents in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, told local police that their son bit into a Snickers bar that had a razor blade inside, which had acquired while trick-or-treating. "The child went to bite into the Snickers and it didn't feel right, so they stopped and noticed an object in it, which appeared to be a disposable razor blade," Reynoldsburg Police Lt. Shane Mauger told USA Today in October 2015, noting the uncommon nature of candy tampering: "This is the first time in 19 years that I've handled anything like this."
Though it remains unclear how or when the razor blade got into the Snickers bar, the event was an odd urban legend come true. Whether it was indeed purposely inserted into the candy by a neighbor may never come to light — but the incident shook up trick-or-treaters, and especially their parents, to the possible reality of obtaining tampered candy.
Seven months after the Ohio event, in May 2016, Mauger pleaded guilty to conspiracies involving false search warrants and illegal seizing of property (unrelated to the candy incident) and is now serving a 33-month prison sentence, so his credibility may also be limited.
The razor-blade rumor haunts us every year
While this is the only recent incident of a razor blade being found in candy on record, rumors of similar incidents circulate anew each Halloween season, leaving many worried parents with the impression that this is a more frequent occurrence than it actually is. Similarly, the 1974 murder of 8-year-old Timothy O'Bryan, who died after consuming a Pixie Stick stuffed with cyanide given to him by his father, has been a source of panic to parents for decades.
While certainly horrific, this act was an isolated incident that happened more than 40 years ago — yet paranoid parents won't hesitate to recall the event when thinking about Halloween safety. Plenty of pranks and false reports of similar candy tampering have appeared throughout the years, but none have proved true.
A more modern dilemma? Marijuana
In recent years, a new fear has arisen: Marijuana-laced candies. With legal dispensaries in states like Washington and Colorado vending pot gummies to adults, parents worry about their kids receiving drugged-up sweets. In October 2014, the Denver police released a video instructing parents to look for recognizable labels and packaging on candies to identify them as safe. But again, there are no incidents on record of anyone handing out THC-infused candy bars to trick-or-treaters. Frankly, it's just cheaper to hand out plain old Hershey's!