Back in the day -- as in, way, way, way back in the day -- Western mapmakers had a bit of a problem on their hands whenever they'd put together a chart of the known world: They didn't know where it ended. Nautical exploration had yet to reach the point where we had the knowledge that there was an end. So, to account for this mystery, they simply left an area of the section blank and filled it in with a bunch of dragons and serpents. The symbolism was easy for any of the map-reading public to pick up on: Here, there be monsters.
While we have since erased those monsters and filled the spaces left behind with giant land masses and blue oceans, make no mistake about it: Our world is still full of monsters. Like before, they lurk where we can't see. Under beds, in the back of closets, shuffling around in attics. But, as everyone knows, the monsters pop their heads out into the open on one very special day: Halloween.
For instance, this woman from Fargo, North Dakota, who has decided to use the holiday in order to shame "moderately obese" children. She's so sick of the obesity epidemic, that every time she opens the door on Thursday, she will make an immediate determination about whether or not the child in front of her should be getting candy. If the child looks fit and healthy, she'll hand out a Milky Way or Crunch bar. If they don't? She'll send them home with a letter to give to their parents:
The letter states: "You child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season."
In my own youthful trick-or-treating days, we'd make a mental checklist of the houses that chose not to give out actual candy, instead handing out apples or sticks of gum. Then, later in the night, we'd return with our own gifts in the form of eggs. Unfortunately, the only way they'd be able to use this gift was if they took a spatula to their garage.
Now, I'm not condoning this kind of behavior. I am simply stating what used to happen. The yolk-based retaliation was due to one very simple concept: Kids like sweets. And when you don't give them sweets, they tend to not be happy. For proof, look no further than this Halloween-themed commercial by Oral B and Crest that shows what happens when you try to give kids "healthy alternatives" to Halloween candy:
But monsters come in other shapes and sizes, too, this time of the year. The annual razor-blade-in-the-candy story already struck in Pennsylvania, where a 12-year-old claims to have found a special surprise in his M&M's. But before you think that some old, evil, John Doe from "Seven"-like creep is blanketing the country with tricks in treats, police are pretty sure they've already found the culprit:
"The package did not appear to be tampered with and we think this is probably is a manufacturing issue," a Scottdale Police officer, who was not authorized to speak to media, told ABCNews.com.
Which, come to think of it, may actually be more frightening?
Pennsylvania was also the site of a police seizure of 40 pounds of candy laced with THC from a college campus. (I'd be shocked if that 40 pounds somehow doesn't magically turn into four when it finally gets checked into the evidence locker.) While the cops have no proof the candy was going to be given out to kids, there was a general worry that it would somehow leak out into mass consumption:
"With Halloween just around the corner, the last thing we want to see is drug-laced candy hitting the streets."
In other words, that big blow-out party Thursday night's been cancelled, folks.
But if you're looking for a truly scary story, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at how all of the candy consumption on Thursday will lead to a visit from the most terrifying monster of all:
Even fastidious brushers risk eroding important minerals in teeth, which can lead to cavities, through frequent consumption of sugar, says Dr. Shenkin.
The dental drill is coming to get you, kiddies!
My advice to Halloween revelers of all shapes and ages: Go ahead, live a little. Enjoy your day and night gorging on candy. And then, when that stomach ache starts up around midnight -- which will be for a lot of you, seeing as 4% of the candy eaten annually in America is consumed on Halloween night -- take that as a message to get right back on the normal diet of yours.
Happy Halloween, everyone.
Want recipes and food news emailed directly to you? Sign up for the new Food newsletter here!