Candy companies want to save Halloween (and their profit margins)

Little boy trick-or-treating in Batman costume
Image: Roberto Westbrook (Getty Images)

Razor blades in apples. Cyanide-laced Pixy Stix. The objectively very funny tale of Dr. William Shyne, a California dentist who handed out around 450 candy-coated laxatives to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters in 1959. Yes, the freaks come out on Halloween—but with COVID-19 effectively canceling seasonal festivities across the country, it seems this year’s holiday will be slightly less ghoulish. Fortunately, there are plenty of thrills and chills underway courtesy of the real freaks: national candy brands.

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The CDC is actively warning against traditional Halloween fun—door-to-door trick-or-treating included. That’s bad news for candy companies like Mars, which starts its Halloween planning two years in advance, or Hershey, which relies on Halloween for 10% of its annual sales. Fortunately, a cruel and omnipotent God created marketing professionals, who’ve devised all manner of creepy-crawly seasonal promotions in hopes of “saving Halloween”—and their profit margins. Below are some examples of how companies are getting creative.

Reese’s debuts an eerie mobile peanut butter cup dispenser

Drive extra slow this Halloween, lest you collide with an unmanned, nine-foot-tall motorized door. The remote-controlled Reese’s Trick-or-Treat Door is designed to cruise through neighborhoods blaring what the brand describes as an “epic Halloween soundtrack.” In theory, the door will roll up to your home and/or child, at which point the trick-or-treater can utter “trick or treat.” The door’s Bluetooth-enabled speaker will note the phrase and dispense a king-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. The only question: If you’re driving the door… who’s that escaped inmate driving your car?

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You, too, can acquire Sour Patch-branded toilet paper

Something wicked this way comes: The notorious Sour Patch Kids themselves will wreak havoc upon residents of 12 yet-to-be-announced cities, making special contactless deliveries that include Sour Patch Zombies candy and Sour Patch Kids branded toilet paper. The latter is meant for pranking, but is also just a great thing to have around after a day of ill-advised sugar binging.

The Kool-Aid Man is stepping out whether you like it or not

This year, a few lucky families will receive an in-person visit from the ultimate good-timin’ Halloweiner: the Kool-Aid Man. On October 31, the Kool-Aid Man will deliver Halloween-themed Kool-Aid Scary Berry Jammers, Ghoul-Aid Scary Berry popping candy and Kool-Aid Man costumes (!) to kids nationwide. To win the in-person delivery, parents should keep an eye on the Kool-Aid Man’s Twitter, where the brand will post an entry link later this month.

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Come on down to Treat Town

It’s impossible to duplicate the in-person trick-or-treating experience, but damn it, Mars Wrigley is going to try. The brand just launched an app called Treat Town, which allows users to “virtually trick-or-treat for real candy.” Creating a Treat Town account earns you the unique privilege of building and decorating your virtual house, customizing your virtual door with spooky décor and, should you so desire, hosting trick-or-treaters. Candy givers can purchase virtual candy credits for Mars candies like M&M’s and Snickers, and trick-or-treaters can then go “door to door” collecting the candy credits. Parents can then exchange their kids’ credits for real candy online or in store.

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Despite the obvious charm of these promotions—and the opportunity to rig up your own candy chute for trick-or-treaters—Halloween’s definitely going to be a little different this year. If you’d rather avoid the Kool-Aid Man’s unblinking gaze, we recommend playing it safe by staying in and indulging in one of the season’s strange and wonderful new candy varieties. No Sour Patch toilet paper required.

Staff writer @ The Takeout. Pork shoulder princess @ Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

The objectively very funny tale of Dr. William Shyne, a California dentist who handed out around 450 candy-coated laxatives to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters in 1959

I don’t think that’s funny at all. I guess we have different senses of humour.