Urban Myths Verified: Legends That Found Reality

By Sophia Maddox | March 9, 2024

They're Drugging Your Candy

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(getty images)

 As Halloween approaches, sinister whispers begin to emerge. One of the most chilling tales parents tell is that of malevolent individuals who tamper with Halloween candy, lacing them with drugs ranging from LSD to Rainbow Fentanyl. The cautionary tale has become so entrenched in popular culture that many parents diligently inspect or even discard candies that appear tampered with, for fear of their children being drugged. However, when we peel back the layers of urban legend and delve into the real story, we find that the widespread fear is largely unfounded. However, there have been isolated incidents which contributed to the fear. 

In 1959, a dentist from California, William Shyne, distributed laxative-laced candies to children during Halloween. He faced charges for indecent conduct and unauthorized distribution of medication. In the 1970s, a young boy tragically died from consuming cyanide-laced Pixy Stix. However, the candy was not laced during trick-or-treating, but had been poisoned by his own father who hoped to cash in on life insurance. 

Stay Away From the Clowns

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(daily mail)

If there's one thing a kid knows, it's to stay away from clowns. Over time, various campfire stories have been told, from clowns luring children into vans, to clowns standing eerily by roadsides, and to those breaking into homes. These urban legends don't stem from any one particular event, but there are real-life instances and phenomena that have fed into the fear: 

John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer in the 1970s,  was known to perform at children's parties as "Pogo the Clown." He was responsible for the murder of over 30 young men and boys, though he was not in his clown persona during the crimes. Later in 2016 there were widespread reports in the US of people dressing as clowns and exhibiting threatening behavior. These sightings ranged from creepy clowns lurking in woods to those attempting to lure children with money or candy. Many of these incidents were hoaxes trying to capitalize on the viral nature of the phenomenon, but the pervasive media coverage and the panic it caused in the public solidified the urban legend's status in modern folklore.