Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sugar, Rage, and Razor Blades

Trick-or-treating has got to be one of the greatest inventions the human race has ever come up with. One night a year, we were able to go door-to-door and get candy, for FREE, because of an ancient tradition of leaving out cakes for evil spirits as a sign of appeasement. Halloween is rich with history, and much of it has resulted in truly wonderful things like scoring candy and carving jack-o-lanterns. Unfortunately, that same history and those same traditions have often been twisted and neutered because of a few horrible people who were determined to ruin things for everybody else.

There's enough cocaine in this picture to put down a rhino. 

Most of us have heard the stories about poisoned Halloween candy. It's become as iconic a tale as the hook-handed hitchhiker or the alligators in NYC sewers. And while it does make for a great addition to the urban legend logbook, the facts are that there has never been a real, widespread case of children dying from tampered treats. There are, however, tragic isolated incidents that do involve the death of a young one, most notably the O'Bryan case of 1974. Ronald Clark O'Bryan laced Pixie Sticks with cyanide that his 8-year old son Marc ate shortly after his candy-gathering. The kid died at 10pm that Halloween night. O'Bryan had given the poisoned candy to some other kids in their group (likely so the act would seem more random), but thankfully, none of the other children got around to eating them. Although the evidence was circumstantial, he was convicted and executed for the murder of his son. Douche bag.

Now, fears run rampant every October that trick-or-treating is just too dangerous. Some people have tried to come up with "safe" alternatives, such as a church offering Trunk-or-Treat, in which children can choose candy out of the back of trustworthy folks' cars, or shopping malls having nights for families to walk around to each store and receive treats. There's nothing inherently wrong with either of those ideas, but it's just one more way that the classic Halloween experience is being lost. Like the vintage haunted house, kids today are going to miss out on real trick-or-treating because of silly but persistent rumors. The truth is that no child would voluntarily pick an apple over a candy bar, so why worry about sharp objects in their Halloween fruit? I agree precautions should be taken: go to houses you know in a good neighborhood, inspect the candy before digging in, don't accept homemade treats if you're not familiar with the person, etcetera. But don't let an irrational fear prevent your young'uns from having the kind of Halloween you had. If you're seriously freaked about it, many local hospitals offer a free candy x-raying service. Yes, that's a thing. The world we live in. 

Let Jerry Seinfeld remind you about the magic of trick-or-treating...

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