The Shadow has recently learned of a Halloween ban happening in New Jersey that has created controversy among the X and Facebook platforms. School Superintendent, Ronald G. Taylor, alerted parents in his district that the usual Halloween festivities would not be taking place this year during school hours, including children unpermitted to wear costumes. His reason? Not all parents can afford them. While the Shadow and many others can sympathize, it likely does not resonate the same way with children who may have been looking forward to showcasing their carefully selected Superman and Encanto costumes in front of their peers.
Many social media users took to their platform of preference to voice complaints. One user suggested it was an opportunity to help the needy. The Shadow applauds that way of thinking, as the world would be a much better place if all were willing to give what they could when they could to whom they could.
That aside, the Shadow took the liberty of researching the origins of the poisoned candy hysteria that has been going on for years. What I found was surprising, as there was a lack of information on the internet to substantiate claims of strangers poisoning the candy they hand out to children.
It seems the origin of the “poisoned candy” debacle began after a 5-year-old boy consumed candy laced with heroin at his uncle’s house in early November 1970. Initially, the boy’s uncle alleged his nephew ate the candy from his Halloween stockpile, claiming a stranger must have poisoned it and handed it out to oblivious trick-or-treaters. However, authorities searched his home and found more heroin in his possession, quickly debunking the claim.
Four years later, a man named Ronald “Candyman” O’Bryan murdered his son on October 31, 1974, by putting potassium-cyanide in Pixie Stix and handing them out to children at a party after they returned from trick-or-treating. Among the children who received Pixie Stix were his own, Timothy and Elizabeth, and three of their friends.
Shortly before, O’Bryan took out additional life insurance policies on his children without his wife’s knowledge, as his end goal was to murder the children and collect a hefty payment to help with his financial troubles. The other children were mere pawns used to cover his tracks. However, only Timothy ate the candy. O’Bryan was convicted on four counts of attempted murder, one count capital murder, and executed by lethal injection nine years later.
It was then the rumors of poisoned candy spiraled out of control after one newspaper, without proof, alleged there were hundreds of cases where children met their fate after consuming tampered Halloween treats. The Shadow is not suggesting all Halloween candy is safe, as one should always err on the side of caution. However, it seems the hysteria has been a bit unwarranted.
The Shadow was told the aforementioned hysteria is years in the rearview mirror in terms of relevancy and that the more pressing issue facing children today are drugs, not poison, found in Halloween candy. Just this morning, I came across a post containing a picture of various candies laced with PCP. At first glance, the Shadow believed the photo depicted Halloween candy. Upon further inspection, I was astonished to learn they were all PCP-laced. Brands like Nerds, Wonka, and Laffy Taffy have candy wrappers eerily indistinguishable from children’s candy. The major difference is the artwork and “medical marijuana” warning on the back.
Additionally, the Shadow warns parents to be on the lookout for brownies. The Shadow was alerted that children may be given the chocolate treat and that they, too, may have been tampered with.
The final and most imperative warning the Shadow has for parents consists of one study’s claim that the most dangerous part about Halloween is simply being a pedestrian. The study, which was done a few years back, revealed that child pedestrians are three times more likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
Whatever your plans for Halloween, the Shadow encourages you to stay safe, be vigilant, and keep the young ones near.
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