Today in Halloween: Razor blades in apples

It’s possible it never happened, but it’s too good a story to resist. Some madman in some city – maybe one not all that far away from your own – slipped a razor blade into an apple given out one Halloween to a trick-or-treater. The kid bit into it and the razor blade lodged firmly in the roof of his mouth. Ouch!

Since I was a child, the rumors of razor blades in apples has been one that haunted kids – but even more so their parents – every Halloween. Parents insisted on inspecting the contents of the trick-or-treat bag for tampered-with apples and candy before kids were let loose to indulge their Halloween gluttony.

Some hospitals even offered free x-raying of Halloween candy to make sure no foreign objects were included. I’m not sure if the irradiated candy was any more dangerous than the unscreened treats.

You know it’s a “real” urban legend when there’s a page dedicated to the subject, encompassing razor blades and the equally insidious pins and needles in apples and candy.

Perhaps surprisingly, Snopes quotes an expert, Professor Joel Best, who says he’s confirmed about 80 cases of sharp objects in Halloween treats since 1959.

I guess if your chances are 80 in … how many billion? … treats given out over the years, you’re probably pretty safe.

By the way, Best wrote a 1985 paper, “The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends,” that is available for download.

Interestingly, Snopes notes that poisoned candy was the fear from the post-war years until the mid-1960s, when sharp objects became the thing that parents could obsess about.


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