CBC Digital Archives

Halloween treat or Halloween trick?

Masked, bewigged and in disguise, the voices demand: "Trick or treat!" "Halloween apples!" "Shell out, shell out, the witches are out!" It's Oct. 31, a night when Canadian kids don costumes, hold parties and knock on doors in search of candy. From apple-bobbing in the country to drag queens in the city, CBC Digital Archives takes a look at changing ways of celebrating Halloween.

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Gone are the days when homemade popcorn balls and caramel apples were welcome in trick-or-treaters' loot bags. In 1982, just a month after tampered Tylenol killed seven people in Chicago, parents say they'll cast a wary eye at their kids' collected candy and reject anything suspicious. In other Halloween news, as this roundup from CBC-TV's The National shows, several Canadian cities are switching trick-or-treat night to Oct. 30 to take advantage of the last night of daylight time.
• The threat of random poisoning by Halloween candy has been part of Halloween lore for decades. But according to Barbara Mikkelson at Snopes.com (an authority on urban legends and modern folklore), no genuine case of malicious tampering has ever come to light. In a 1974 case, a boy died on Halloween night after consuming Pixie Stix laced with the poison strychnine. However, it was later proven in court that he had been murdered by his own father, who had slipped the tainted candy into his son's loot bag.

• Pins, needles, razor blades and other foreign objects concealed in Halloween candy are more common, according to Snopes. In many cases, it is children themselves who, having heard the warnings, attempt to replicate the trick.

• During daylight time, clocks are adjusted so there is more daylight at the end of the day rather than in the morning. Until 2006 Halloween typically fell in the week after the clocks had been turned back to standard time, meaning trick-or-treaters were setting out in full darkness. But in 2007 all of the United States and most of Canada pushed the end of daylight time to the first weekend in November. That means that in many places it is still light out when trick-or-treating begins.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 30, 1982
Reporter: Terry Milewski
Duration: 1:56

Last updated: November 3, 2014

Page consulted on November 3, 2014

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