The Ferrara Pan brand candy grew in popularity inside West Virginia Jails after cigarettes and smokeless tobacco were banned. Prisoners then turned to the red hot cinnamon snack and have developed a dangerous addiction to the hot, hard treat.
Jerry Tracy, who has been a guard at West Regional for the last 5 years said, "We have prisoners who have sucked so many Atomic Fireballs, their teeth are falling out. Several prisoners will spend the maximum amount allowed of $55 on that candy. One inmate was stabbed with a pen because his cell mate wanted his Fireballs."
Dr. Elliot Harper at West Regional told us, "The cinnamon and heat get them hooked, but I think it's the red dye and sugar that's making inmates so hyper and dangerous. I suggested they be removed for everyone's safety, but that nearly caused a riot. We also had inmates go into extreme withdrawal and lapse into comas."
"Fireballs are more than candy," said inmate, Scott "The Tooth" Merle. "They've become our monetary system. Everything we do is for Fireballs. We play poker for Fireballs. We even trade chores for Fireballs. Skinny Pete even agreed to go on a date with my fat sister when he gets out for 100 Fireballs. Wait until he finds out she looks just like me!"
The West Virginia Regional Jail System is evaluating the situation and considering their options. On one hand, Fireballs have the bonus of being legal, and while 'hot' pose no risk of real fire like cigarettes. Plus, they bring in more money than cigarettes ever did. The downside is the untested waters of lawsuits over the growing addition problem.
Recentlly released ex-inmate, Richard Winter, is suing West Regional for $500,000. His suit claims the jail was negligent and allowed an addiction to Atomic Fireballs that has ruined his life. Winter's lawyers claims, "My client was innocent of Atomic Fireballs and had never heard of them until he went to jail. He was not allowed to smoke, so he picked up the nearest thing he could put in his mouth.
"Since leaving prison, my client has lost his wife, his jobs and sense of self-worth -- all due of Atomic Fireballs that he was introduced to in prison." Winters has since been rearrested on 4 counts of armed robbery. He was apprehended in the candy isle of K-Mart.
The Atomic Fireball company refused to answer our request for comment. A spokesman only said the issue was too hot right now.