If you type “poisoned candy” into snopes.com you’ll get a big FALSE message. Most of the scarelore you’ve heard about the dangers lurking in Halloween candy is total hype.
According to Snopes, to qualify as a Halloween poisoning, the poisoned candy must be handed out on a random basis to children as part of the trickor-treating Halloween ritual. The act cannot be targeted to one specific child. Police have never documented any cases of people randomly distributing poisoned goodies to children on Halloween.
In the past, we’ve heard warnings of poisoned candy or candy distributed with sharp items inside like razors or needles. In the fall of 2022, the internet introduced us to a new urban legend – rainbow fentanyl Halloween candy. “This tale contained a number of factors that would make the story hot in an election year – a novel version of a dangerous street drug, a threat to children’s safety, and the US-Mexico border, an evergreen source of political flame-throwing,” says author Bethania Palma. “Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illicit fentanyl poses a legitimate danger to health and safety, and young people have been harmed by it.”
Could it be political? Although this isn’t an election year, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel once responded to accusations by former President Bill Clinton that Republicans employ fear tactics to win elections. McDaniel responded: It’s Democratic legislators who scare voters with their policies. “Just last month, 2,000 pounds of fentanyl came across our border. That could kill 500 million people,” she said. “We’re coming into Halloween. Every mom in the country right now is worried, what if this gets into my kid’s Halloween basket?”
This brightly colored pill, dubbed “rainbow fentanyl”, has been seized by authorities in 18 states, having entered the US via our southern border.
The DEA warned, “This trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.” Mariah Francis, a resource associate with the National Harm Reduction Coalition, says selling drugs in brightly colored pill form is not new, and doesn’t necessarily mean children are being targeted. Such pills have been sold for decades. “We saw it with MDMA, we see it in club drugs,” says Francis. “And it’s actually kind of embarrassing because the DEA is really just late, late to the party.”
DEA administrator Anne Milgram told NBC Nightly News that the rainbow colors are a marketing ploy, intended to attract potential young drug users and generate more profit for themselves. She didn’t say drug traffickers were planning to give pills out for free to trick kids into thinking they’re eating candy. Did these youths obtain their drugs by going door to door? No, they did not. There is no fact-based warning about rainbow fentanyl being handed out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Here’s the bottom line: Pills and edibles are expensive! Who knowingly wants to part with their drugs? And razor blades? Those are also expensive! Plus, considering the size of razor blades and needles, for one to go unnoticed it’d have to be jammed into a honkin’ big apple! There was one news story in the ’70s of a child getting pricked with a needle in an apple, but no medical attention was required. And another razor blade story involving an apple that wasn’t bitten into. Thanks to that hype over 40 years ago, you don’t see fresh, healthy apples being handed out in lieu of wrapped candy that’ll rot your teeth out of your head. What’s the real poison here?
Parents and kids are still advised to exercise caution with their Halloween candy. The US Food and Drug Administration has a list of tips to follow to help ensure the annual candy clutch is safe. Most importantly, accept only commercially wrapped candy, and avoid masticating until it is brought home and inspected.