Debunking those urban legends
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
When I was 6 or 7, the rumor was going around my elementary school that someone was going to try and kill little kids at Halloween.The story was that someone, probably that mean lady who lived on the corner and kept all the footballs that landed in her backyard, was going to hand out poison-laced Pixie Sticks.
Pixie Sticks, in case you have forgotten, are nothing more than straws filled with sweetened powder. On the Halloween candy scale, they were about a five – less than a Milky Way and way better than those orange and black wrapped peanut butter things.
Still, the news of the poisoned Pixie Stixs had us all in an uproar. This was about the time that "candy inspection" was becoming mandatory. Gone were the days when you could eat half your Halloween candy before you turned the corner on your block. Suddenly, your parents had to inspect all your candy before you could eat it, something I always suspected was just a way for my parents to eat all the really good stuff.
It just so happened that the DeVaney family ran out of candy that Halloween night and my mother sent my father to the store. He came back with the only candy they had left: Pixie Stixs.
"We can't hand those out," my mother said. "Everyone will think we're trying to poison them."
Obviously, my mom's position as classroom popcorn popper had given her access to the poisoned Pixie Stix rumor.
And that's all that it was, of course – a rumor. As far as I know, no one has been poisoned by Pixie Stixs; has eaten an apple with a razor blade in it; or been mauled by a man with a hook for an arm as they sat in a car at the end of Lover's Lane.
In fact, these stories now have a name: urban legends. It seems there are all sorts of stories floating around that are simply not true. People start believing the stories just because they've heard them repeated so many times.
Like the story about the Neiman Marcus (or Mrs. Fields or Famous Amos or any other cookie maker – I've heard it several ways) cookie recipe. The story goes that a woman paid $250 for a cookie recipe from some place. It's supposed to be top secret, but she's going to let you in on it because she's mad about being charged $250 for a recipe.
The story is a phony and though the cookies are pretty good (I know someone who actually made them) they're not the best I've had.
The stories go on and on and, for the record, let me dispel the myths right here: deodorant does not cause breast cancer; cats can not become radioactive by sitting on the television; and you're not going to get anything special by forwarding some email to 10 of your friends.
There is one true Urban Legend, however. Remember that woman who kept all the footballs that landed in her backyard? She was mean. And that's the absolute truth.