Beware of "Scary" Food

Blue Jay wearing a fedora and chomping down on a berry

By Food Reporter Alan Bluefeather

On the last night of every October, a frightening ritual begins in Brooklyn neighborhoods. Humans, wearing all kinds of strange plumage of mostly black and orange coloring, take to the streets in a gory spectacle. Many of the humans appear to be bleeding in various places — as if they have been run over by a lawn mower! (Though my cousin who once bravely perched herself on a piece of bloody clothing reported that the “blood” is in fact just ketchup). 

Even stranger, if you happen to be a black cat crossing the road, or an innocent bat just out for a little jaunt, or a black crow minding your own business, the humans will go completely nuts, pointing and hollering at you. Possessed by some sort of obsessive mania, they even stick images of cats and bats on the windows of their homes!

What’s this behavior all about? Beats me. I’m just a food reporter. But I WILL tell you that you had better be cautious at this time and avoid human food. During this unusual evening, the youngest humans, unpractised in using their opposable thumbs, will often accidentally drop wrappers containing tiny morsels of the sweetest food. Humans call this “candy”, or in some cases, “chocolate”. 

One of these candies is particularly eye-catching — a bright white, orange, and yellow triangle that looks almost like a seed. But don’t let your hungry stomachs fool you. It is NOT a seed at all. The humans call it “candy corn”, though it isn’t even corn. (Here’s a funny fact about candy corn: humans invented it a long time ago and they used to call it “chicken feed”.)

It may be tempting to peck at candy, because the colors are so unusual, but candy is loaded with sugar (sucrose) that many types of birds have trouble digesting. Chocolate has compounds called caffeine and theobromine, which can make our hearts beat too fast, cause us to tremble, and even kill us. And it’s not just us — too much candy is even bad for humans. 

So the next time you see humans acting like ghosts, ghouls, goblins and witches, or other characters… it’s probably safest to just head up into a tall tree and roost for awhile.

Bird in a tree and cat on a roof, silhouetted against a full moon above a Brooklyn cityscape

Illustrations: © Fiona Carswell, 2021.