A popular meme is making its return this Halloween. But with a more abstract twist.
The "check your kids’ Halloween candy" meme, which first went viral in meme form in October 2014, parodies "a Halloween urban legend about people hiding needles and razors in candy before giving them out to trick-or-treaters," according to the meme database Know Your Meme.
However, Know Your Meme cites an October 2011 video from YouTuber Jack Douglass, titled “RAZORS IN YOUR APPLE (on Halloween),” as the first major parody of the candy warnings. Douglass’ video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
The next year, a user on the photo sharing website Imgur posted a men’s facial razor in an apple. The trend spread to Twitter, where, in 2014, a user posted a handgun next to a Twix candy bar, joking that the weapon had been found inside the candy, according to Know Your Meme.
Now, years later, the meme has re-emerged. And it's "more abstract and surreal" than before, per Know Your Meme. Because this time around, users who are posting the memes have put objects in the image of the candy that normally wouldn't go there.
This year’s slew of memes began as early as Oct. 4, when Twitter user @JohnBiggs tweeted a warning with an image of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, according Know Your Meme.
Although it appears @JohnBiggs has deleted the tweet, the memes have continued to dominate Twitter — with accounts as varied as those of NASA to Dave & Buster’s taking part.
“Please check your scientist’s candy this Halloween! We just found the Carina Nebula in a candy bar. Frightening!” the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies tweeted Tuesday.
"Be diligent and check your child’s candy this year, just found unused vacation days in this chocolate bar. No words," LinkedIn’s official account tweeted Tuesday, featuring an image of a beach inside a candy bar.
The arcade and restaurant Dave & Buster’s tweeted: "Be diligent and check your child’s candy this year, just found a finger trap shoved inside a candy bar. No words."
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation joked that it had found a slimier surprise in a candy bar. “Be diligent and check your child’s candy this year, just found an invasive silver carp shoved inside a Milky Way. No words,” it tweeted.
The notion that a person might spike Halloween candy with drugs or sharp objects is called “Halloween sadism,” a term coined by Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, who has studied the phenomenon.
Best's research suggests that contaminated treats are rarely given to children on Halloween and that it is even rarer that a contaminated treat injures a child.
Halloween sadism, according to Best’s website, “is a story that is told as true, even though there may be little or no evidence that the events in the story ever occurred.”
“Contemporary legends are ways we express anxiety,” it says.