Biggest Scare: Tainted Halloween Candy


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“Cincinnati, USA – October 4, 2012: Large messy pile of wrapped popular candy against a white background. Candy includes Kit Kat, Almond Joy, Snickers, Reeses, Nerds, Gobstoppers, M&Ms, Milky Way, Jolly Ranchers, Nestle Crunch, Sweet Tarts and Butterfingers.”

Every October 31st is a day full of spooks and sugar, lots of it. It is the day for carefree children to go door to door to collect some free treats from their neighbors. Seems pretty harmless, right?

According to the protective parents across America, the innocence of trick-or-treating left decades ago. It is a common practice for concerned parents to search their children’s sweets before they are aloud to dig in. Many wonder if this procedure is even necessary.

Hundreds of tales and horror stories have brought concern to the parents of trick or treaters. In the past, some families went as far as x-raying their children’s candy, but what sparked this fear across the country? Was the Boogie Man becoming a real thing on Halloween?

The first-fork-in-the-road for Halloween innocence was the William V. Shyne case. A dentist from Fremont, California was fed up with trick-or-treaters coming to his door, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Forever plating fear in the minds of American families.

Halloween 1959, Shyne passed out 450 candy-coated laxatives to children passing by his house, sickening 30 of those unlucky children who rang his doorbell. The public was outraged and frightened. He was charged with “outrage of public decency” and “unlawful dispensing of drugs.”

A conflicting man of the frightening myth is Ronald Clark O’ Bryan. His own son seemed to fall victim to a cyanide-laced pixie stix on Halloween, but as authority examined his death closer, their attention was focused toward someone else. What seemed to be a case of a spooky candy poisoning, took a turn into something more sinister.

As the investigation thickened, police discovered O’Bryan had recently taken out many life insurance policies on his own children for $30,000 each, which amounts to about $145,000 in total today. It was suspected that his family was behind in payment and bills, making this a possible motive. This action was an obstacle in The Candyman’s innocence and the start of his trail.

Only four days after the initial poisoning, police arrested Ronald in connection to his son’s death. Although O’Bryan’s actions were targeted toward his own family, this case instilled a significant amount of fear across America. Furthering the stigma around the lack of safety on October 31st.

Both of these cases have definitely changed the way most Americans approach trick-or-treating. Almost every parent’s worst fear on Halloween is their child blighting into some tainted candy. Now, you might have a better time understanding as to why.

Laxatives and the end of Trick or Treating