Killer Candy Corn? Society Calculates Lethal Dose Of Halloween Sugar

(Dan Goodman/AP)
(Dan Goodman/AP)

You may have wondered this in past years as you nauseously contemplated the wreckage of mini-candy-bar wrappers surrounding you: Just how much Halloween candy would it take to make a human not just sugar-sick and riven by remorse but actually dead?

Well, the science-is-fun-minded folks at the nonprofit American Chemical Society have done some back-of-the-envelope calculations on a likely lethal dose of trick-or-treat loot. It's worth watching the full — and entertainingly educational — three-and-a-half-minute video to follow their reasoning:

They quote the maxim that "the dose makes the poison," and note that animal studies suggest that for an average person weighing 180 pounds, about 5.4 pounds of sugar, eaten at one sitting, could be lethal.

Spoiler alert: So the rough basic numbers for a killer candy binge? For that 180-pound person, that could mean about 262 mini candy bars — nearly 20,000 calories — or 1,627 pieces of candy corn, the American Chemical Society video calculates.

Comforting? Nauseating? The description on the video's YouTube page also offers instructions on how to calculate your individual risk based on your own weight (but here's hoping that's a number of purely theoretical interest).

Headshot of Carey Goldberg

Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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