Trick-or-treating pooches
American Pet Products Manufacturing Association
Be afraid, be very afraid: Halloween has gone to the dogs.
By Brian Tracey Business Editor
msnbc.com
COMMENTARY

Halloween was once a holiday comprised of only two components — candy and costumed kids. But the frightful festival has evolved, or maybe mutated is a better word, into something maybe we should all be truly afraid of: A consumer-marketing monster. And the latest chapter in this scary business story has you celebrating Halloween with your pet.

You can't argue with the numbers — The National Retail Federation says Americans are expected to spend nealy $5 billion on Halloween this year, up nearly 51% from 2005.

One subset of this retail bonanza is a special Halloween treat for your terrier, or a creepy costume for kitty. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more that 3.5 million U.S. consumers will buy Halloween products for their animal companions this year, spending an average $17 each.

While that's still a very small slice of the Halloween pumpkin pie, the pet-products group sees potential. “Some may consider pet pampering or including pets in Halloween frivolous, but if your pet is enjoying the extra attention and you are enjoying the fun of sharing it with your pet, it seems like a great idea,” said Bob Vetere, President of APPMA.

And while claiming that putting your pet in costume has "been around for awhile," the association has some advice: "If your pet resists costuming, do not insist, as it can cause stress to your pet." Almost as insightful is their suggestion that giving them candy is not the greatest idea.

All this pet participation in "howl-o-ween" has us asking an important question: If a neighbor shows up with Fido dressed as Superdog, should we have pet treats at the ready? Because if we don't, we're thinking the "trick" left on our front yard the next morning is going to be much, much worse than some rotten eggs or toilet paper.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Tupperware has many purposes: Forming Jell-O rings, spin-drying salads, storing spaghetti, microwaving oatmeal. But Tupperware as an evening bag? It may look a bit like a sandwich box, but the lace-patterned fashion accessory was among the winners of a contest that challenged Tupperware sellers and users to get creative with the iconic plastic containers.

The winners, announced this week, include a kaleidoscope, a model race car and an intricate illuminated sculpture. Their creators ranged from an Indian graphic artist to a French Tupperware saleswoman.

The plastic containers, reminiscent of 1950s suburbia, were held up as artwork in their early days, when homemakers hailed their tight-sealing tops and then-unusual material. House Beautiful magazine declared them "fine art for 39 cents."

Now, Tupperware pieces are enshrined in several major museums. A water pitcher is on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art, said Christian Larsen, a curatorial assistant.

But Tupperware Brands Corp. doesn't want to be viewed as a clear-plastic relic of a more domestic era. The company, based in Orlando, Fla., has spent recent years updating products and tweaking its trademark parties.

The design contest is another effort to "get Tupperware seen in a very different kind of a light," said CEO Rick Goings. "The same functionality and quality goes forward, but how do you, at the same time, have fun with design and color?"

The competition, which debuted this year, aims to show how. Hundreds of entries were judged by a panel of home-design and materials experts. The winners received $5,000 and trips to New York.

Five large? That would buy a lot of refrigerated leftovers.

  • Guinness, the dark Irish drink known as the “black stuff”, could soon be turning red.

Manufacturer Diageo plans to produce a version at its Irish brewery using lightly roasted barley, which will have a reddish color, and give it a trial run across the Irish Sea in Britain.

“If you held up a pint of Guinness to the light, the red would come through. It’s a very deep red,” a Diageo spokeswoman said.

Diageo plans to test Guinness Red on drinkers in British pubs in the coming months but has no plans to launch it more widely, either at home in Ireland or in about 150 other countries where Guinness is sold.

Too bad. Here across the pond we were hoping to dump our Black and Tans in favor of the newer and much-easier-to-order Sunburn.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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