From Urban Legend to Reality

Urban legend or Halloween threat? (Persephone Magazine)

Urban legend or Halloween threat? (Persephone Magazine)

Wikipedia—the most reputable of all websites (and I am being extremely facetious, by the way)—defines an urban legend as “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true.”

And I’m sure we are all familiar with some of the more popular urban legends: gang members who drive with their high beams on, wait for a passing motorist to flash them and then hunt down and murder them as part of their gang initiation; stomachs that explode after eating Pop Rocks and drinking carbonated soda; serial killers hiding in the back seats of cars; escaped murderers with hooks instead of hands; and so on and so forth.

Hell, there was even a string of mediocre movies about urban legends. The 1998 slasher film Urban Legend was the best of the bunch, and even that wasn’t all that great.

Nevertheless, urban legends are all around us and continue to spread through each generation—who incidentally continue this trend by creating urban legends of their own.

Personally, I find urban legends extremely interesting, even though I know most—if not all—of them are horseshit… or at least they used to be.

I thought only Cracker Jacks came with a prize! (KDKA)

I thought only Cracker Jacks came with a prize! (KDKA)

One of the most frightening urban legends from my childhood centers around one of my favorite holidays—and one many of us will celebrate tomorrow: Halloween.

I am, of course, talking about trick-or-treaters receiving apples—or candy—with razor blades hidden inside.

As a child, I didn’t worry too much about razor blades in apples because honestly, I never ate them anyway. People who hand out fruit mean well, but no one I knew ever cared for it. And we always considered playing a trick on them so the following year they would consider giving kids what they really wanted: junk food and other sweets to rot out their teeth.

Every Halloween, this same urban legend would rise to the surface, usually as warnings from parents: “Make sure you don’t eat anything until we check it for razor blades and such.” Kids didn’t always listen, of course, but many of us heard this every year.

Despite these warnings, though, I never knew anyone or heard of anyone who actually found a razor blade in their candy… at least not until recently.

Last Sunday, children in Scottdale, Pennsylvania went trick-or-treating—most likely since Halloween falls so late in the week—and among them was Matthew Hernley, a 12-year-old who seems to love the holiday as much as I do.

Michael and his mother Lydia Nelson made the rounds and collected tons of candy, but when they got home and checked it, they found something that turned an urban legend into reality. In one of the packages of M&M candies that Michael received, they found what authorities have described as a “razor-like blade.” Unfortunately, Michael could not remember which house the candy came from, but this would matter little once his mom contacted M&M/Mars, the company that produces the popular candy that “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

Watch the little ones tomorrow and be safe! (Bucks Happening)

Watch the little ones tomorrow and be safe! (Bucks Happening)

According to the people at M&M/Mars, the blade likely slipped into the bag during the manufacturing process—there were no visible signs of tampering, so this seems legitimate enough. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that other bags of M&M’s could also contain sharp objects… and kids all over the place will be ingesting thousands of the tasty treats soon—if they aren’t already, that is.

The obvious lesson to be learned from this situation is to always check your candy and treats before you start eating them. However, I might add that since this urban legend came true, it’s totally possible that others will, too.

So before you flash your lights at someone blinding you with their high beams or decide to wash down those Pop Rocks with an ice-cold Coke, consider whether you might be the next victim of an urban legend come true.

And tomorrow when you’re trick-or-treating with your children, remember what almost happened to “M&M Michael” and take the necessary precautions. Halloween is supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be safe.

Posted on October 30, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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