Halloween Eggs Halloween is fast approaching, but trick-or-treating during a pandemic is a dicey proposition. It’s unlikely many parents will want to take their children door-to-door, and even unlikelier that neighbors will want kids putting their grubby fingers in the candy bowl. Luckily, one St. Louis neighborhood and a local company thought of a solution.
Alana McMichael, a resident of St. Louis Hills, began brainstorming last month as the pandemic threatened her favorite holiday. Her idea: St. Louisans can leave candy-filled eggs on their front lawns, and kids can take them and go, without having to knock on the door or come within six feet of anyone else. After deciding that Easter eggs might be a socially-distant way to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters, she began thinking up a backstory about a playful poltergeist who stole the Easter Bunny’s eggs.
“Halloween is a magical time, and this year we need that magic more than ever,” McMichael said. “St. Louis is known for having a more unique Halloween experience, so I thought a Halloween egg hunt was worth a try.”
McMichael shared the idea in a neighborhood Facebook group, and someone suggested she reach out to American Carnival Mart. It turns out, the company was working on a similar idea, so they put their heads together. Gut-punched by the pandemic, the locally owned novelty supply store had a surplus of Easter Eggs sitting around — roughly 4.5 million filled eggs and another 2.5 million unfilled, according to the company’s CEO, Mark Haug.
“Beginning in 2008, we developed our own line of plastic Easter Eggs to be sold empty or filled across the country for small to large size Easter Egg hunts,” Haug said. “It quickly grew from 2 percent of the business to almost 50 percent over the last 11 years. Basically, it replaced our core business.”
But with most Easter egg hunts canceled around St. Louis and across the country, the company was hit hard, forced to lay off half its staff, with the rest taking a pay cut or working reduced hours.
“Eighty percent of our business relies on social gatherings, events, festivals, etc.,” Haug said. “We were on target for a great year, and everything came to a halt with COVID-19.”
He continued: “Not only has this impacted us, but our partners Canterbury Enterprises in Shrewsbury, a Sheltered workshop who fill all of our eggs and assemble baskets for us. Typically, this time of year they are stuffing millions of eggs, which they begin in May and it doesn’t end until the week before Easter. This project supports over 90 employees with disabilities; now they have to go out and find new opportunities to survive.”
Haug said the pandemic forced the company to rethink its business and come up with new ideas to generate revenue. Halloween eggs? Why not?
So, this year, the company is selling a Halloween Egg Hunt kit that comes with 50 pre-filled eggs and a sign reading: “Find 2 Eggs. If you touch it, take it. Happy hunting.”
“Parents can encourage social distancing, and the eggs can be sanitized before they’re opened at home,” McMichael said. “It seemed like the best way to promote a low-contact holiday while keeping Halloween safe and special.”