Top 10 Candy Myths & Urban Legends

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It may seems like we are focusing on myths lately and maybe we are, but myths and urban legends are fun to read and it is more interesting to discover their origins. Just about every topic has a myth or legend behind it, even something as harmless as candy. Take off the wrapper and bite into this article as we discuss the top 10 candy myths and urban legends.

10. The Exploding Jawbreaker in the Microwave

Mythbusters Exploding Jawbreaker 2

This one is true, true, true and was proven so by the MythBusters. Nobody can explain exactly why, but microwaving a giant jawbreaker will turn it into a very dangerous molten sugar grenade. Also, nobody can explain why someone would microwave a jawbreaker in the first place.

9. Chocolate is Caffeinated

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OK, I used to have a German roommate who will freak out is she reads this, because she used to swear eating chocolate kept her up late. Turns out, this is only very mildly true, (10 mg of caffeine per ounce of chocolate, tops) but there is so little caffeine in the amount of chocolate people eat in one sitting, it would be akin to claiming to feel a buzz off the alcohol in the vanilla extract in chocolate. (That is, if it’s cheap chocolate that doesn’t use real vanilla. But I digress.)

8. The Gruesome Origins of LifeSavers’ Name

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Has anyone ever tried to freak you out with this little bedtime story: The inventor of LifeSavers originally designed the candies to be disks without holes, but when his poor little daughter tragically choked on one and died, he vowed to end the senseless killings, so he put holes in the middle and re-dubbed them LifeSavers? I’ve heard this one from quite a few sources, and, well, let’s think about this, people. Would that little hole prevent a kid from choking? It’d have to be lodged just right.

Naw, the real story is a lot less dramatic. In 1912, Clarence Crane began production of a peppermint candy. The machine worked best if the candies had holes in them, and he couldn’t help but compare these these donut-shaped mints with the newfangled life preservers that were becoming fashionable after the recent Titanic disaster.

7. Van Halen, Supertasters

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No matter how many blindfolded taste-tests I ace, I just can’t seem to convince people that I can taste brown M&M’s. They just taste… brown. When I first heard about Van Halen’s backstage rider, I thought at last I’d found some simpatico supertasters. Their tour rider used to require that there be a bowl of M&M’s, but that all of the brown ones be removed. If they found a single offending brown M&M, they supposedly trashed the place and/or refused to play. There are even newspaper articles detailing riotous tantrums resulting from improper candy screenings.

What’s interesting about this urban legend is not whether it’s true (it is) but why. Turns out, it had nothing to do with flavor, or aesthetics, or even rock-star-ego demands. No, it’s actually just a test to make sure the promoters had read the contract.

In a nutshell, Van Halen had a lot of heavy equipment that required strong cables, a stage that could withstand so much weight, and so on. They feared for the safety of their fragile little bodies if the very specific contract went unread, so in the middle of a lot of technical instructions, the little devils threw in a clause forbidding brown M&M’s backstage. If they found the bowl they’d requested to be unsorted, they’d know the contract hadn’t been scrutinized, and hence the following hissy fit. It’s all perfectly reasonable. (By the way, for your convenience, I’m just paraphrasing a beautifully reported story from Snopes.com. For the full story with quotes, you should totally check out this wonderful site).

Oh, and in this litigious age in which we now live, Van Halen no longer finds it necessary to mess with the minds of concert promoters– they just straightforwardly ask for a dozen Reese’s cups.

6. The Indian Chief is Worth a Free Tootsie Pop

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Who started this crazy rumor? Nobody knows, but it’s definitely not true. The real heartbreak of growing up comes when you realize that, contrary to what your best friend swore, finding the Indian Chief (shooting a star with his bow and arrow) is NOT going to get you a free sucker once you mail the wrapper to the Tootsie Roll company. We had many commenters say they did manage to get a free Tootsie Pop though, when we wrote about this in 2006, so even if it wasn’t company-sanctioned, it looks like it did work sometimes.

According to numerous sources (thanks again, Snopes), Tootsie Roll Industries has received thousands upon thousands of letters since the 1940’s. They never do send any free candy, but, and this is almost better, they do send a pamphlet with a really weird story about the origins of the Indian Chief. It’s a trippy tale about how the inventor of Tootsie Pops originally wanted them to be star-shaped, but couldn’t work out how to get the Tootsie Roll filling inside, but one day he hallucinated an Indian Chief who showed him the pops should be round by shooting an arrow at the moon.

5. Bubble Yum Contains Spider Eggs

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The time: 1975. The place: America, a land whose chewing gum is hard, brittle, unyielding, and decidedly un-chewy. Suddenly, Bubble Yum hits the markets, delighting children with its unique flavor, color, and texture, all of which are unique departures from anything anyone has ever experienced (not to mention wholly unlike anything occurring in nature).

Two years later, some haters have started various rumors about the gum containing various spider-parts, not just eggs, but legs, webs, whatever. This story becomes so widespread, and somehow, accepted, that the LifeSavers company (Bubble Yum’s parent) eventually has to fight the rumor with full-page ads in dozens of national newspapers. Apparently, enough kids read the newspaper to become convinced, and Bubble Yum lives on.

4. Candy Canes Started as Christian Symbols

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for edible religious symbols: Wine, challah, chocolate coins, cheese sandwiches, it is all good. But sorry, boys and girls, the stripes on candy canes were NOT painted on to represent blood, and it’s NOT shaped like “J” for you-know-who.

For what it’s worth, the Christian interpretation is a lot more interesting that the real story, which is something like this: once upon a time, in the late 1600’s, there was a kindly candy-making monk, who bent his boiled-sugar candy sticks into a shape more amusing to children, and zzzzz zzz zzz zz z z

3. Green M&Ms’ Randifying Properties

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At this point in my countdown, I’m getting a little frustrated with candy companies’ senses of humor, or rather, their lack thereof. I find it a little sad that the Tootsie Pops website has nothing to say about the Indian Chief, ditto for the spider eggs in Bubble Yum. Both companies seem to take a great deal of pride in the nostalgic value of their product, both have detailed (and BORING) historical timelines that chronicle this family formulating that product and selling blah blah company to yadda yadda conglomerate, but make no mention of the folklore surrounding their respective candies. Bubble Yum was willing to spend, probably, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince American children that their gum is arachnid-free, but now the most important information they want me to know about is that Bubble Yum now comes in chocolate flavor.

So I thought, hey, the M&M’s people know what’s up. They’ve alluded to the whole green-aphrodisiac thing in their commercials. The Green M&M has sexy boots, so that means they know about the rumor. THEY will give me some of the straight-from-the source facts I crave. And guess what I found? A timeline. Big whoop.

So, OK, are you ready? Here goes: guess what. Green M&M’s are not really an aphrodisiac.

2. Pop Rocks Killed a Cereal Spokesboy


MythBusters – Pop Rocks Et Soda 3/3
Uploaded by Nhomme-Beur-One. – News videos from around the world.

Wait.Wait.Wait.Wait.Wait. Guess I spoke too soon! Guess which candy company has the courage to publicly acknowledge that they’ve never made someone’s head explode? Pop Rocks, I love you. By the way, they were invented by a guy who was trying to carbonate Kool-Aid. Who knew?

1. Deadly Halloween

Deadly Halloween Candy

Photo by Rune T

Prepare to question everything you think you know. Although, if you Google for “Candy Urban Legend”, this is by far the most popular subject that comes up, I had never never heard that this story was anything but gospel.

After all, my mom, and the moms of all my friends, local news stations, school bulletins, free candy x-ray programs at the local hospitals, EVERYONE warned me as a child not to eat ANYTHING that wasn’t factory-wrapped, lest I ingest rat poison, razor blades, LSD, arsenic, or crazy-lady fingernail clippings. Even as a kid, the logistics of this seemed slightly screwed up. I remember thinking, disappointed, as some freshly baked butterscotch cookies were being confiscated and destroyed, that nothing was to stop some psychopath from unwrapping a Dum-Dum, dipping it in poison, then carefully re-wrapping it.

I never forgot those butterscotch cookies, and now I feel really, really, super-sorry for whoever it was in my neighborhood who baked them, because it turns out that THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DOCUMENTED CASE OF HALLOWEEN CANDY DEATH OR INJURY. Some dad poisoned his kid’s Pixy Stix for the insurance money, and another kid died after got into his uncle’s heroin right after trick-or-treating, but that’s about it.

This makes me question every cautionary tale I’ve ever heard. What’s next – there isn’t a evil goblin who’ll chew off my ears if I don’t finish my broccoli? But seriously, I have to wonder if this doesn’t have something to do with modern children’s reluctance to eat anything that doesn’t come in a package with a brand name and cartoon mascot, hmmmmm?

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This delicious article was submitted by Caitlin Kendall. Please visit the Candy Addict for more sweet samples.


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39 Comments

    • Because it’s a fact that in some people, increased sugar intake will cause a breakout. Chocolate is just one of the most popular ways to consume sugar.

  1. I really haven't heard most of these. I have heard the one where pop rocks and Coca-Cola if consumed together will kill you. But that is a myth.

  2. i had a similar result w/ a jawbreaker when I washed jeans with one in my pocket. The spot is stiff and dark while the pocket is glued & won't open anymore. Found the wrapping unopened with an orange liquid (the flavor I guess)..yucky..I guess it had to do with the hot water and the movement/friction of washing machine…

    • What kind of idiot does not notice a jawbreaker in their jeans pocket before washing it?!?! You totally deserved it then

  3. I just thought I'd point out that it's not the EATING of the color green, but the VISUAL aspect of the color that is an aphrodisiac for males.

  4. chocolatezen on

    I live in Cali.I had a good friend growing up that received a bag of peanut M&M's while trick or treating. She ate them while walking and a short time later became ill. It turned out that they had been tampered with. We informed the police, they took the bag and later told her parents that it was LSD. A few years later after trick or treating with my sister my aunt was going through our candy to weed out any potential hazards and found a small tear in a candy bar. My mom was strict about the no opened/torn wrappers rule and it had to go in the trash pile but my aunt didn't actually believe there was any real danger. She opened it and broke it in half to pop part of it in her mouth and there was a sewing needle inside. We informed police that time as well. I don't know what has to be done to make an occurrence like this 'documented' but some people are just strange and things do happen. I check my little guys candy every year.

      • yup, i have also found razor blades, and heard stories of kids in my neighborhood being hospitalized by poisoned halloween candy. it makes sense. it IS documented. just because u read somewhere on the internet that there isn’t a documented case. doesn’t make it true. plus, it’s only basic logic and deduction. Some halloween candy every year is tampered with with some malicious intent i guarantee it. I myself besides the razor blade, have found candy a few times where a small needle sized hole was in the wrapper AND the candy under the wrapper in the same spot. we always check our candy because it HAS happened around here to me and others. Hmm…

  5. I love that Indian star one… i used to collect them and i never got around to sending them in haha.

    And collin, Chocolate does give you acne by getting on your face. Washing up after eating chocolate will stop the acne.

  6. I've definitely gotten a bunch of free suckers. JUST DON'T SEND THEM IN.

    Most stores will give you free ones. I used to take those things back to the grocery store all the time and the people that worked there gave them to me for free. This was straight up to me being about 17 years old.

  7. I, also, have gotten many free suckers. As a child, I would simply take the "First Nation Chief"(trying to keep it politically correct) wrappers in to the convenience store, and would walk out a happy lollipop-licking camper.

      • i also know many kids and family member that knew of stores that if you collect 10 indian boy star wrappers they gave you a free one. so it’s true and not true because supposedly the company didn’t do it, yet there are stories that they did sometimes … hmmmm…..

  8. i remember going to this little market by my house when i was a kid that would give u a free tootsie pop if you had a wrapper with the indian shooting the star. so that one's true

  9. everyone else just got stuck with only getting one sucker? i milked that for all it was worth. i brought my wrappers in and came out of the store with a whole bag for every wrapper.

  10. I did service work at Hostess in Cambridge, Ontario 30+ years ago where they made pop rocks. They gave a worker by the potato fryer line a pop rock the size of a golf ball. He put it in his mouth and bit down. On top of that, he had dentures. End result: His dentures flew out and ended out under the fryer line. Everyone had a good laugh about the incidence.

    Every so often I remember it and I have a quiet chuckle.

  11. The Lifesavers myth may be false, but I have choked on a lifesaver as a small child and had it lodged with the hole perfectly so that it got stuck…Which in fact was worse than getting actually stuck because it was harder to dislodge without the air pressure.

  12. ThereHAVE been reported candy deaths in Newfoundland Canada

    (where i live)

    in mount pearl, a young couple were handing out candy spiked with oxy-codon and vicodon

    a 4 year old girl, whos parents i assume weren't looking through the candy, AS ME PARENTS ALWAYS DID, and i still do, ate 5 peices of this candy and her little body couldn't handle the drugs, she died in hospital almost 4 hours after, even after having her stomach pumped.

    SO that halloween one is true…

  13. technically the pop rocks and soda is right your stomach

    (if you have like 2pounds of pop rocks and 4 gallons of soda) your stomach will burst and you will die

  14. For about 10 years when I was a kid, a local gas station did indeed give you a free tootsie pop if you gave them a wrapper with a star on it (they really didn't care if the chief was on it)

    My friends and I used to always have a wrapper in our pocket so that should we go to the gas station and not have any money, we could all still have a treat.

    • yea that’s how the stores around here worked. If you had the entire star on the wrapper you would get a free one. and I can’t remember if it was 50 or 100 but if you had a certain amount, they would give you an unopened box of them! =)

  15. The slogan, there's something about the green M&M refers to the fact that she is the only female. Not that its an aphrodesiac.

  16. The M&M Aphrodisiac isn’t a myth – it’s actually a marketing ploy. The M&M company released the new m&m character SAYING she’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac; they even got Pamela Anderson to help promote it. :l
    Doesn’t anyone remember when they came out..?

  17. I’ve gotta disagree with you on Number 1, there. Although you may not be able to find it on the internet currently, I know for a fact (and my dad remembers very well, too) one time when I was being driven back home from my friends one halloween. We had gone trick-or-treating, and my dad was saying I couldn’t eat candy til he checks it. Soon after he says that, a story comes on the radio… Of a kid who was hospitalized that evening for biting into a candy bar that had a razor blade in it. It was even in the papers the next day.

    Just cause the internet says “No” doesn’t mean it’s true. I’ve seen wikipedia say Video Games were created by God, and that’s on the internet, so does that mean THAT’S true too? (If so, I need to get back to church)

  18. smalltowngirl on

    I grew up in a small town and our high school mascot was the indians.
    We got free tootsie pops at the auto parts store as well as the movie rental store if we could come in with an Indian on the wrapper.

    I always just thought it was my small town.
    Good to know the entire world has been searching for Indians on their wrappers!

  19. Number 1 must be the whole reason people today don’t go door-to-door trick-or-treating anymore. It’s all done in malls, businesses, and food chains now. My parents were careful with us and our candy, and I don’t know of anyone who ever fell victim to candy-tampering, but even to this day, I still don’t understand what the *heck would compel anyone to sneak razor blades, needles, drugs, poisons, or harmful things into kids’ Halloween candy in the first place…

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