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Halloween Dangers Legit and Legend: The Awesome Fears We Absorbed as Children of the 70s and 80s

halloween dangers, trick-or-treating safety

Celebrating Halloween dangers, legit and legend.

We’ve written a lot this month about the potential — or, better yet, alleged –risks that go hand-in-hand with trick-or-treating, from losing your child to getting cavities from eating too much candy corn.  There are no doubt a few things we need to teach our children to beware of on Halloween (stingy neighbors, carrots instead of candy, McDonald’s coupons), but I think mostly what we do as parents when we tell our children to be scared is perpetuate — maybe subconsciously out of a good-natured sense of tradition — the myths we learned ourselves as children about how dangerous All Hallow’s Eve can be.  After all, what fun is a holiday that celebrates all things ghostly without at least a slight sense of spine-tingling spookiness attached?

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at all of the scare stories, urban legends and yes, legitimate safety concerns that were pounded into our heads as children of the 70s and 80s every year on Halloween.  Let’s reminisce, shall we?  After all, there’s nothing to be afraid of… or is there?


  • Pedophiles 1 of 13
    Pedophiles
    Lenore Skenazy aside, today's parents are just as worried about pedophiles and stranger danger as ours were. Halloween seemed a particularly vulnerable time for children in the 70s and 80s, because back then so many of us trick-or-treated without any parental supervision. Photo via Flickr.
  • Abduction 2 of 13
    Abduction
    What better way to lure kids in on Halloween than with free candy...
  • Poisoned Candy 3 of 13
    Poisoned Candy
    Who doesn't remember being forced by our parents to sift through our candy for what seemed like hours before we ate it, looking for pieces that might have been tampered with? Someone could have injected poison into those Mary Janes! Laced them with acid! Substitued the actual confection with a roofie-infused treat! We humored our parents and wondered if we were about to die, and then we still ate everything anyway. Photo via Flickr.
  • Getting Hit by a Car 4 of 13
    Getting Hit by a Car
    One of the few legitimate concerns in the bunch that still holds true today. That's why we should send our children out trick-or-treating with flashlights, glow sticks and the instruction to always look both ways before walking slowly across the street. Photo via Flickr.
  • Razor Blades in Apples 5 of 13
    Razor Blades in Apples
    I mean, it never happened, right? And yet! We were all terrified of finding something like this in our candy bags. Who gives out apples, anyway? Come on! Photo via Flickr.
  • Not Being Able to See Out of a Crazy Plastic Mask 6 of 13
    Not Being Able to See Out of a Crazy Plastic Mask
    Or suffocating as a result of a crazy plastic mask. This amazing photo from 1978 via Flickr.
  • Your House Getting TP’d or Egged 7 of 13
    Your House Getting TP'd or Egged
    Or getting caught TP'ing or egging someone's house, depending on your perspective. This was certainly a legitimate concern years ago, when punks had more moxie and there were no security cameras. Photo via Flickr.
  • Getting AIDS While Bobbing for Apples 8 of 13
    Getting AIDS While Bobbing for Apples
    Before Ryan White taught us you can't get AIDS from saliva (or a toilet seat), we were all afraid of getting AIDS from anything and everything we touched, especially something as communal as a bobbing pool. Photo via Flickr.
  • The Spooky Dark House 9 of 13
    The Spooky Dark House
    Still terrifying. Are you brave enough to knock?! Photo via Flickr.
  • The Old Witchy Lady 10 of 13
    The Old Witchy Lady
    ...who probably lives at the spooky dark house. She seems nice enough, but you never know when she'll decide to let out her crazy cackle and reach out her gnarly hands to grab you! Photo via Flickr.
  • Pennies 11 of 13
    Pennies
    ...especially the ones given out by the old witchy lady who lives in the spooky dark house. My friend Jennifer Myszkowski told me, "In our house, the big story was a lady putting a pan of pennies in the oven, and then when kids came over, she'd pull it out and tell them that they could have a handful of pennies, then they'd burn their hands." Ouch. Photo via Flickr.
  • Open Flame 12 of 13
    Open Flame
    Store-bought Halloween costumes in the 70s and 80s were particularly flammable (see crazy plastic masks), but costumes sold today are capable of lighting up as well. Tell your kids to be careful around candles and Jack-O-Lanterns, and be sure to blow everything out before you go to bed. Photo via Flickr.
  • Teenagers 13 of 13
    Teenagers
    Not only could they TP or egg a house, they might beat someone up and steal their candy! Or, you know, come to your door looking like this. Photo via Flickr.

Main image via Flickr

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