When it comes to murder weapons or freak accidents, we do not usually look for suspects in a candy dish or bakery. Chocolate, caramel apples, and bubble gum seem so harmless.
However, throughout the years, some of the most horrific and shocking deaths can be traced back to candy and other fateful dessert choices. From the Candyman Murders of 1974 to India’s recent toxin outbreak, these ten shockingly dangerous sweets show just how dangerous our favorite desserts can be.
10. Pesticide Pastries
In 2016, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, a family prepared to celebrate the newest addition to their family. Following the birth of a happy and healthy little boy, an ecstatic father rushed to a bakery to purchase an assortment of tasty “laddoo,” sweet, ball-shaped pastries, in honor of his son’s arrival. It never occurred to him that he was unconsciously sentencing himself and 11 close family members to death.
Unbeknownst to the father and fellow customers, the pesticide shop next door to the bakery was undergoing construction and renovations. Oddly, the owner of the bakery graciously offered to store some packaged pesticides for the neighboring poison shop until the construction ended. Although full explanations are still unclear, officials are certain that some of this poison “mysteriously” found its way into the pastries.
The pastry shop owners and an employee were arrested on suspicion of knowingly poisoning their customers. Over 70 people became seriously ill from these deadly pastries. Out of these 70 victims, 23 died from poisoning. Regardless of whether this poisoning was intentional or not, one thing remains clear, a little Pakistani boy lost his father and family on his birthday.
9. Trick-Or-Treat Murder
Halloween is said to be the perfect time for ghouls and monsters to walk among us. However, under cheap, plastic masks, some real monsters lurk—often much closer than we think.
In 1974, in a quiet Pasadena neighborhood, 30-year-old Ronald Clark O’Bryan lurked under the best disguise of all—a friendly, all-American dad.
On Halloween night, O’Bryan, his wife, and their two children, Timothy and Elizabeth, enjoyed dinner with their close friends, the Bates family. The children rushed through dinner and eagerly prepared for an exciting night trick-or-treating. Armed with costumes, candy pails, and their fatherly escorts, the group took off for a fateful night.
After the children tried and failed to gain candy from a discouraging, vacant house, Jim Bates ushered the children back to the sidewalk in search of a new target. After lagging behind the group for several minutes, O’Brian suddenly reappeared with a fistful of giant Pixy Stix. The children’s eyes grew wide at 22 inches of sugary wonder as O’Brian explained that the “rich neighbors” finally decided to give out the “expensive treats.”
Later that evening, O’Brian’s son, little eight-year-old Timothy, began complaining of stomach pain. Before the night ended, the little boy became violently ill with vomiting and was in excruciating pain. He was dead by morning.
Although O’Brian managed to put on a false mask of shock and horror over his son’s death, a prompt autopsy of Timothy’s body revealed a horrifying level of cyanide—enough to kill three adults. Police launched an investigation and managed to find one of the deadly Pixy Stix for examination.
It was not long before justice revealed the depths of O’Brian’s deception and depravity. A temptingly large insurance policy of $60,000 prompted the father to kill his son in hopes of gaining enough money to rescue him from past financial struggles. The jury found O’Brian guilty of murder with a death penalty to be carried out on March 31, 1984. Protestors outside the prison shouted “trick-or-treat!” as the father met his end.
8. Lethal Dose
Too much of anything is a bad idea. Shockingly, this principle applies to our favorite candies and treats. In a fit of morbid curiosity, researchers at the American Chemical Society conducted an experiment to determine just how much candy is a “lethal dose.” Using some of the most famous types of Halloween candy such as candy corn, dum dums, and sugar babies, scientists began calculating the deadly dose of sugar.
“LD50,” a term used to describe “the quantity per kilogram that would kill half of an animal test population,” was applied to each candy. For sugar, this number is 13.5 grams per pound. For an average adult of about 180 pounds (81 kg), about 5.4 pounds (2.5 kg) of sugar would be a deadly poison. Translated literally, 262 small candy bars or approximately 1,627 kernels of candy corn could send you to an early grave. For candies with higher levels of sugar such as sugar babies, blow pops, and nerds, it is even easier to reach the fateful 20,000 calories required for a sugary death. Although not as scary, candy is a deceptively dangerous type of poison.
7. Explosive Gum
“Explosive chewing gum” sounds like something out a corny comic book or even a creation of the mischievous fictional character Willy Wonka. However, for 25-year-old Ukrainian, Vladimir, this dangerous candy was responsible for his horrific and shocking death.
The explosion occurred at his family home where the young college student was spending his holiday between semesters. His mother ran into the room only to find her son in critical condition with no jaw and very little of his face remaining.
This young college student was an apt inventor and curious chemistry student at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. Although his family and friends knew of his penchant for tinkering and experimentation, no one suspected the deadly experiment he created.
Forensic testing on Vladimir’s gum revealed a mysterious, unidentifiable substance responsible for the sudden explosion. Many feel this horrible death was an accident. Vladimir was not suicidal; if anything, his academic and social future was very bright. Life is incredibly fragile; something as small as a contaminated piece of gum can easily end it.
6. Death by Chocolate
Anything can become a death trap. At the wrong place and at the wrong time, even our own job may become something out of a horror film. For 24-year-old confectionery worker, Svetlana Roslina, her job became her grave.
Roslina, a mother of two, arrived for a normal day at work at the Fedortsovo Chocolate plant near Moscow. By 6:00 p.m. that evening, police arrived to find the young woman trapped within a giant chocolate mixer. Her body was completed minced with only portions of her legs remaining intact. Even if she had been found in time, the extent of her horrific injuries ensured her death.
Although authorities and the plant managers are still uncertain of the exact cause of her death, some suspect that Roslina fell into the vat trying to retrieve a lost cellphone. Others feel she may have simply been trying to empty a large sack of ingredients when the mixer blades accidentally trapped her.