Trick-or-treating is a time-honored, once-a-year tradition when, for just one night, children ask for, and receive, candy from strangers. Reliance on the kindness of strangers only goes so far. Every Halloween, parents QC their their children's bounty like the strictest of Oompa Loompas, throwing out fresh-baked goodies, suspiciously wrapped candy and unmarked treats in case they contain poison or sharp needles. It's a tactic that straddles the line between "never trust strangers" and "always accept free food." From innocuous stories about valuable Tootsie Roll wrappers to sadistic ones about candy laced with rat poison, we explore five urban legends to see which are grounded in reality and which are figments of our collective imagination.
5. The Legend of the Tootsie Roll Wrapper:
This is the only one we actually wish were true. We remember spending hours hunting through our Tootsie Rolls, looking for a rare drawing of an Indian with a bow and arrow printed on the wrapper because, we were told, anyone who found such a wrapper received Tootsie Rolls for life, or a bag of Tootsie Rolls, or a shiny new bicycle (the prize seemed to change depending on the year and the economy). Nonetheless, Snopes
confirms that the rumor was never true, though some shop owners may have chosen to honor the myth.
4. The Legend of Pop Rocks and Coke:
If you are going to dress up in 1980s garb for Halloween, you need at least one package of Pop Rocks to complement those leg warmers and neon sweat bands. Because this is Halloween, combine the fizzy candy with a can of Coke to really scare the Generation X'ers. The myth that someone -- maybe Mikey from the Life cereal commercial or your cousin's best friend's sister's or your classmate's step-brother -- exploded after chugging a Coke with Pop Rocks is just a myth. As the manufacturers of Pop Rocks assure us
, Mikey did not, in fact, explode. Rather, he's living a decidedly less explosive life as a corporate attorney somewhere in New York.
3. The Legend of the Halloween Drug Pusher: In what might be the most expensive urban legend on this list, a more nefarious version of Weeds' Nancy Botwin bakes pot and other drugs into bars, cookies and other treats to give your kids a sugar high, and then some. In reality, Nancy's doppelganger lives mostly in the world of urban legends. There have been very few incidents of strangers knowingly handing out marijuana-laced candy to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters, and most official warnings focus on inadvertent drug distributions. Case in point: A postal employee took home an unsent box of what appeared to be Snickers bars and handed them out before watchful parents found half an ounce of marijuana worth $250 stuffed in each of the bars. A trick and a treat, all rolled into one.