Trick-or-treaters set out at sundown.

Enlarge / Dun-dun-duun. (credit: Getty | Los Angeles Times)

You've likely heard the spooky stories: adorable, sugar-crazed kids gleefully toddle from door to door in their homemade costumes and festive masks—only to be handed razor-blade-stuffed apples or cyanide-laced pixie sticks by wicked, faceless strangers.

As such, many a trick-or-treater has hauled their cloying bounties home over the decades only to surrender them to parental authorities for thorough inspection. At some points, hospitals even offered free X-ray screenings for candy to make sure that the sweet loot was safe. Subsequent research found that this costly endeavor failed to turn up any threats. But, still, it seemed worthwhile.

Through the years, media reports continued to gather terrifying tales of deadly Halloween candy handed out be evildoers—a phenomenon dubbed "Halloween sadism" in the press. There was little 5-year-old Kevin Toston of Detroit, who died from heroin-laden Halloween candy in 1970. And 8-year-old Timothy O'Bryan of Pasadena, Texas, who died from cyanide poisoning after eating tainted Halloween candy in 1976.

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