While most of our childhood Halloween food fears were totally unfounded (turns out razor blades in apples are just an urban myth) there is one scary ingredient we were never made aware of: licorice. Apparently too much of the bitter candy can literally kill you.

Before you freak out too much, be aware it takes significant amounts and a high dietary frequency for licorice to cause major bodily harm. According to the FDA, “If you’re 40 or older, eating two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm.” Apparently the common candy contains glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound that can cause potassium levels to fall. If that happens, the body can experience high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and even congestive heart failure. Yikes!

The good news is if you’re that age, you’re probably not eating that much candy in the first place. But if you’re stuck with leftover licorice after the bulk of trick-or-treaters have come and gone, just ditch that grossness. You probably have the reputation of being the worst house in the neighborhood anyway. We’re not saying your deserve to get sick, just give out better candy options next year, like anything with chocolate, instead.

The FDA claims they had one report of a health issue occurring last year, but there is no mention of anyone dying from a licorice overdose. Still you can never be too safe, so to get the message out the agency released a new PSA to warn you of its dangers. “No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time,” they urge.  So gather round the computer screen and behold the terrifying tale of licorice below. Because nothing is scarier than your own body’s fallibility. The next time you’re at a campfire you may have a new spooky story to tell.

Header image courtesy Shutterstock.

See more articles