As a kid at some point, you or one of your friends probably wondered how much candy you’d have to eat to, well you know, die. Curiosity got the better of us, so we decided to do a little digging to crack that morbid little mystery.
How do you even start answering a question like that? Well, the first stop on the journey is a visit to the ol’ LD50 tables. For the unfamiliar, LD50 stands for “Lethal Dose required to kill 50% of the test population” and is usually expressed in a dose per unit of weight form. Most of the LD50 measurements we have are extrapolated from rat models to humans (as it would be, understandably, profoundly unethical to run the tests on humans). We assure you: Nobody was force-fed candy, Hansel and Gretel style, during the research phase of this article.
The LD50 of sugar, in the form of simple glucose, is 30 grams of sugar (administered orally) per 1 kg of body weight. A kilogram is ~2.205 pounds. The average weight of a woman in the United States is 170.6 pounds and the average weight of a male is 197.9 pounds. Let’s round up and down, respectively, to say our average person, in general, is 180 pounds.
At 180 pounds, you’d have to consume 2,449 grams of pure sugar in a sitting to reach the LD50 for your body weight. If you want to calculate an exact amount based on your weight and candy of choice, use this formula:
((Weight in lbs. / 2.205) * 30) / (grams of sugar per serving of preferred candy) = LD50 serving count
Back to our Joe Average though. What does the LD50 of sugar look like when translated into common Halloween candies? To hit the projected Lethal Dose, you’d need to eat:
- Candy Corn: 1,670 pieces
- M&M’s Candies: 2,552 pieces
- Snickers (Mini Size): 545 pieces
- Milky Way (Mini Size): 299 pieces
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (Regular Size): 234 individual cups
- Pixy Stix (Standard Size): 1,143 straws
I felt compelled to end with Pixy Stix because some decades ago my friend Jake and I pondered, after eating bags of the things, exactly how many Pixy Stix it would take to kill us. We didn’t die, but we certainly felt awful. Very, very awful.
Which brings us to the real moral of our death-by-candy tale: Good luck figuring out a way to eat 1,670 pieces of candy corn or 1,143 straws’ worth of flavored sugar fast enough to not decide, along the way, that living to see another day (and a more sensible diet) isn’t the better option.