Why people are afraid of dangerous Halloween candy
In 1974, an 8-year-old boy named Timothy O'Bryan was excited to feast upon the candy he collected during his trick-or-treating bout in Pasadena, Texas.
He gulped down the flavored sugar in the "giant pixy stick," and immediately knew something was wrong, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
His father, Ronald, said the child complained that the candy tasted bitter. Ronald encouraged him to wash the taste out of his mouth with Kool-Aid.
Timothy started vomiting, so his father called an ambulance -- but help arrived too late. Before they reached the hospital, Timothy was dead.
This story has circulated for years, and people have long thought that Timothy was poisoned by an evil stranger. In reality, he was killed by his father, who attempted insurance fraud.
He also handed the cyanide pixy stix out to other children who never consumed them, "presumably hoping that if several children died, it wouldn't look nearly as fishy," according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Ronald was found guilty of murder and executed in Texas.
Many murderers like Ronald O'Bryan have tried to copy one case of random poisoning for years, according to Snopes.com.
In 1982, seven people died within three days in Chicago after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide.
The case remains unsolved, but it appears it was truly random and not an attempt to cover up the murder of one person by killing six more.
The tragedy had nothing to do with candy, but that didn't stop copycats from trying to link their own poisoning murders to this incident.
On a different note, many claims that children found pins, needles and razors in their Halloween candy are true.
Most of the time, the incidents are harmless pranks just met to scare people, Snopes.com reports. About 80 cases of sharp objects in food have been reported since 1959, and almost all were hoaxes.
One story from 2000 breaks that trend, however.
James Joseph Smith, 49, was charged with adulterating a substance with intent to cause death, harm or illness after putting needles in Snickers bars and giving them to children.
A 14-year-old boy was pricked by a needle hidden in the treat, but no one required medical attention.
Ultimately, experts say your child will not die if you don't check their Halloween candy before letting them eat it.
Joel Best, a sociology professor, told Gizmodo that after studying the subject for three years, "he hasn't yet been able to find one single instance of a child dying as a result of candy given them by a stranger on Halloween."
Though there's no harm in being safe and taking a second look at the treats your child collects from strangers, you almost certainly will not come across a cyanide-tainted candy bar.
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