Can Halloween candy kill?

Sure, if the psychopath down the street laces it with strychnine. But that aside, can you overdose on it? How much would kill  you?

The American Chemical Society calculates 262 “fun-sized” candy bars or 1,627 pieces of candy corn will deep-six the “average” person.

What is “average”? They contend “the average [American] weigh[s] 180 lbs.,” which is an obvious lowball figure. They also used the midpoint of the range of sugar mass that would constitute a lethal overdose at that specific body weight, which apparently is subject to more variance than, say, a critical mass of plutonium. That makes their numbers squishy.

Moreover, weight isn’t everything. It matters more on a gallows than a guillotine. A hit with a lightweight .22-caliber bullet does more damage than a miss with a heavier .45-caliber bullet. Dumping 5.4 lbs. of uncut sugar straight down the gullet pipe can’t miss; the only question is whether it’s enough.

The ever-helpful ACS provided a formula to adjust their calculated “average” overdose to your own body weight. For fun-sized candy bars, “multiply your weight in pounds by 13.5 and divide it by 9.3.” (Why not just multiply by 1.45? — Ed.) For candy corn, “divide everything by 1.5” (where “everything” = body weight x 13.5; or just use a multiplier of 9.) So, if I take your body weight of 240 lbs. and multiply by 1.45, I get 348 pieces of candy; or, multiplying by 9, I get 2160 pieces of candy corn.

According to ACS, that’s a “median” lethal dose, which I take to mean there’s a 50% chance you’ll die a slow, agonizing death from hyperglycemia (details here). The other 50% of the time, you’ll endure a slow, agonizing recovery with possible permanent organ damage.

Wikipedia says, “Acute hyperglycemia involving glucose levels that are extremely high is a medical emergency and can rapidly produce serious complications,” and also claims, “It is most often seen in persons who have uncontrolled insulin-dependent diabetes” or, they could’ve added, overdose on meth or Halloween candy.

Their article notes, “Increasing aerobic exercise to at least 30 minutes” helps prevent hyperglycemia by burning off glucose, implying you could maybe walk off a Halloween candy overdose.

(If outdoor walking is too dangerous because your neighborhood is overrun with man-eating crocodiles, see photo at left, then see my article on home gyms here.)

A potential military application comes to mind. Saturating a target area with candy-corn bomblets (photo at right) could rapidly disable a dispersed or dug-in enemy force.

This could be especially effective in underdeveloped countries where guerilla fighters embedded in the local population aren’t acclimatized to high sugar doses, like we are, and consequently have a lower sucrose tolerance.

These targets are easy to identify by their body build. They don’t look like us. Of course there’ll be civilian casualties, but there always are anyway in warfare.

Halloween candy also could solve Texas’ problem of obtaining enough execution drugs for all the people they want to kill. In that event, the last meal and execution could be combined into a single procedure, simplifying the whole process and reducing the likelihood of foul ups. Every execution will be agonizing, but in Texas that’s pretty much true now.

For general self-defense purposes, though, Halloween candy is too slow. For that you want a cellphone, keep it charged, and input 911 speed-dialing.

To just deal with Halloween, stay out of the grocery stores until the 2nd week of November, after they clear the stuff out, if you can’t handle the temptation.

Find this article ghoulish? Well, isn’t that what Halloween spirit is all about? (snicker)

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