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Tylenol and Ben Cooper

I’m telling my age, here, but I can remember the Tylenol murders of the early 80s, vaguely. Several people in and around Chicago died after taking Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide. Officially the crime was never solved and no one was ever charged. No motive was ever uncovered, although it was theorized it had to do with wrecking Tylenol’s stock prices or with extortion. There were numerous copycat incidents following the initial poisonings. Today, when you buy any kind of over-the-counter medication and you have to remove that extra covering from under the lid of the bottle, or you swallow a “caplet” instead of a capsule (as the latter is easier to tamper with), you can thank the Tylenol murders for it. 

The Ben Cooper company was arguably the most prolific and most recognizable manufacturer of Halloween costumes and rubber figures in the country from its founding in 1937, when owner Ben Cooper, a costume designer for the live theatre turned his attention to making Halloween costumes on the cheap after the Great Depression made working in showbiz a lot tougher. The Tylenol murders began in September of 1982 and effectively killed trick-or-treating that year (I have no memory of it being affected in the part of the country where I lived), thus killing sales of Halloween costumes, and Ben Cooper Inc. never fully recovered. The company went bankrupt in 1988. There you go, then. The reason we no longer have the iconic Ben Cooper masks, costumes, and little rubber figures is because some nutjob poisoned some Tylenol. Add that to your store of useless knowledge.

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.

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