Poisoned Pixie Stix and Razor Blades in the Baby Ruth: The Truth About Sabotaged Halloween Candy

I'll never forget Halloween when I was seven years old. After a night of picking up the goods going door-to-door in the neighborhood, I immediately dump my new stash out on the living room floor. A Baby Ruth first. I take those first delicious bites. Suddenly, a sharp pain blitzkriegs my tongue. Next thing I know, a geyser of blood is shooting from my mouth, splashing my Donald Duck costume, turning the carpet into a Jackson Pollock. Mom screams, dad calls 911, I pull from the gooey goodness a razor blade which has just slashed up my mouth.

No. That never happened.

But you know what did happen, that year and every year? You probably had the same painful routine. After a successful candy campaign, before chowing down, my parents rifled through my take like customs inspectors. Any off-brand candy or shady stuff went in the garbage.

It's a well known urban myth that Halloween brings out the sickos who booby-trap candy with poison and sharp objects.

But are they really out there? Are there actually criminally-minded people looking to enact sugar-coated domestic terrorism on the one night of the year when kids can gobble down candy from strangers.

"Not that we heard of," was the reply when we put the question to Therese Barbera of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Over at the Broward Sheriff's Office, Dani Moschella also couldn't think of a reported instance of tainted candy.

There's a lot of field work out there online about where this whole tainted candy craze started. According to, there's only been one reported instance of an actual Halloween candy poisoning. Back in 1974, a Houston eight-year-old named Timothy Marc O'Brya died after ingesting a cyanide-laced Pixie Stix. It turns out the evil bastard being the job was the boy's own dad, who'd taken out a life insurance policy he was looking to cash out on. The father was convicted and executed for the crime.

Otherwise, whenever a child dies suspiciously around Halloween, candy is usually flagged up-front as a possible cause of death -- although autopsies almost always prove differently.

In terms of suspicious objects spiking candy, the only reported case of that comes from 2000. Then, a guy named James Joseph Smith in Minneapolis was caught putting needles in Snickers bars. Only one teenager actually bit down on the candy, though, and he was barely scratched from the incident.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @kyletalking.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson