Elementary students who said they ate crack cocaine on a bus ride to school Wednesday actually swallowed candle wax that was offered to them as the illegal drug, detectives said.

Police spokesman Art Marx blamed the power of suggestion for the discomfort the youngsters suffered after ingesting the phony cocaine.Marx said detectives spoke to the 8-year-old student who handed out the substance in a bag and were to decide whether to file a charge of being an unruly minor.

Six elementary school students were taken to a hospital after complaining of illnesses. Urinalysis tests found no traces of illegal drugs, Marx said.

The students attend three central city schools but ride the same bus.

One of the students who became ill told school officials he accepted the substance as crack cocaine. The other students also complained separately of stomach illnesses.

"I think after one child felt ill, then children being what they are, another one said they felt ill, and they were taken to one of the local hospitals," Marx said.

School officials immediately called police and rescue personnel.