Are Teenage Trick-or-Treaters Breaking the Law?

Beaker/Bunsen's Severed Head image courtesy of reader Lisa Kuchy

We’ve already told you that your Halloween candy probably isn’t poisoned. Today let's focus on another great Halloween rumor, the one that says it becomes illegal to trick-or-treat once a kid hits a certain age.

It depends on where you’re trying to bag some fun-sized Snickers. Various towns around the country have age limits for trick-or-treaters, but the policies are hardly uniform. Most rules, like the one Belleville, Illinois, enacted in 2008, cap the trick-or-treating age at 12. Once you hit those golden teenage years, the free candy gravy train goes off the tracks.

Why 12? Belleville mayor Mark Eckert gave a gem of an explanation to the Associated Press.

“When I was a kid my father said to me, 'You're too damn big to be going trick-or-treating. You're done.’ When that doesn't happen, then that's reason for the city governments to intervene."

The basic reasoning behind most of these age caps makes sense; some citizens get a little, er, spooked when costumed teenagers who are physically mature show up at their door. Plus, a lot of people are of the opinion that trick-or-treating is really more of an activity for little kids.

The penalties for violating the age cap can be pretty stiff for a teenager: jail time and fines of over $100. Don’t start clearing jail space to accommodate an influx of costumed scofflaws, though. Every report we can find on trick-or-treat age limits notes that nobody remembers the rules ever actually being legally enforced. If anything, it sounds like the heinous crime is generally punished with a call to the offender’s parents or perhaps a ride home.

About Face

If you’re over 16, though, there’s another potential legal problem for you, and it doesn’t have anything to do with trick-or-treating regulations. According to an Associated Press story from last November, at least 18 states have laws against people 16 or older wearing masks or hoods that cover their faces. The laws hit the books in the early 1950s in an effort to help curtail Ku Klux Klan activity. Even if it’s legal for you to hit the free Twizzlers beat, you might want to make sure your face is uncovered.

Here's What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

Americans indulged their sweet tooth in a major way this Halloween, spending an estimated $2.7 billion on candy intended for front porch distribution. Rather than confronting a weepy child with an empty bowl because they bought too little, shoppers tend to buy in bulk. Come November, that can mean pounds of sugar-packed temptation still sitting in the house.

The good news: You can remove the risk to your waistline and do some good at the same time. A number of charitable organizations take leftover candy and send it to troops stationed overseas. Operation Gratitude has set up a number of drop-off centers around the country—you can search by zip code—to accept your extra treats. Once collected, they’ll send them to both troops and first responders. Last year, the group collected nearly 534,000 pounds of goodies.

Often, drop-off locations will be located in dental offices as a way of reminding everyone of the perils of tooth decay from excess sugar consumption. Some dentists even offer buy-back programs, paying $1 for each pound returned.

If donating to a national program is proving difficult, you can always deliver the extra candy to local food pantries or homeless shelters.


The FDA Has a Warning for People Who Love Black Licorice

Most versions of black licorice contain glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound found in the licorice root. While tasty, glycyrrhizin can affect potassium levels in the body, causing them to fall to dangerously low levels. High blood pressure, swelling, and even heart issues can develop as a result.

It’s not just bingeing that can cause issues. According to the Food and Drug Administration, adults over 40 who eat more than two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could suffer heart problems like arrhythmia. If you have a history of heart disease, you’re even more susceptible to complications.

The FDA recommends using a little common sense when consuming black licorice, eating it in moderate amounts and stopping if you notice any adverse symptoms. If you do experience potassium level drops, it’s usually reversible once you put the bag down. Treats that are licorice-flavored are typically artificial and won’t have the same effect as the actual plant root—but for your waistline’s sake, try to avoid gorging on anything.

[h/t Consumerist]


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