Fears of tainted Halloween candy were at an all time high in 1982. Cyanide-tainted Tylenol had killed seven people in the Chicago area, and reports popped up of razor blades hidden in apples, chocolate bars dosed with LSD, and angel dust in the candy corn.
“This is getting completely out of control,” Joseph McDonough, Connecticut's deputy consumer affairs commissioner, told The New York Times.
McDonough had heard reports a hypodermic needle in a box of Quaker Oats in Danbury and needles in a Kit-Kat candy bar in Norwalk. In response, the governor at the time, William A. O’Neill, canceled trick-or-treating at the Governor's mansion, as The Times reported.
He said it was “sad that these cautions must be exercised,” but that “the safety of our young people comes first.”
It wasn’t just O’Neill. In the Daily Campus, UConn’s student-run newspaper, there were reports of “pins and needles found embedded in apples and candies.”
Officials in Greenwich and Vernon asked families to limit trick or treating to daytime. Hospitals said they would X-ray candy to detect any metal.
Fears of deadly candy were felt throughout the region. In New Jersey, one child was admitted to the hospital after eating Tootsie Rolls with PCP — called angel dust — during a school celebration.
The fear reached a crescendo in New Britain. As The New York Times reported, the mayor at the time, William McNamara, had hoped to ban trick-or-treating altogether.
He asked the city’s attorney if they could stop people soliciting candy on public streets, and if the city had “authority to restrain homeowners from answering their doors on Halloween.”
McNamara was told that it probably wasn’t an option: “A Halloween ban in all probability would be found to be an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of individuals to peaceably assemble, speak and associate,” Joseph E. Skelly, New Britain's assistant corporation counsel, told the mayor, as The Times reported.
“Can you imagine me trying to ban turkey on Thanksgiving or hearts and flowers on Valentine's Day?'' he said. “Are we going to send neighborhood patrols around peeking in windows to see if anybody's hiding behind a couch eating a candy bar? The key to this is parental supervision.”