Retailers in the UK have started to treat Halloween as a special event, selling more themed products every year. Alongside decorations and costumes there is an ever-growing range of food marketed specifically for Halloween.
I visited a local ASDA supermarket this weekend and bought a few things including: A 'Monster Meltdown' pizza, 'Freaky' and 'Lemon & Slime' Jaffa Cake bars and 'Fiendish' Mr. Kipling French Fancies.
The cakes were generally the same as you'd find all year round, just in different wrappers and with some non-standard colouring. Across all major brands, most of the Halloween theming is limited to the packaging, and that - of course - is kept cartoonish and family-friendly. If you're lucky you might find a limited edition foodstuff that incorporates pumpkin, but usually the best you can hope for is a bit of green and orange icing. The 'Freaky' Jaffa Cakes were at least purple inside.
The New Covent Garden soup was very nice. Despite the query TRICK OR TREAT? printed on the carton, it was as advertised: 'creamy pumpkin' with a carrot and coriander base to the flavour. I think they may have picked pumpkin for Soup of the Month even without Halloween - as it's pumpkin season - but Halloween let them have fun with the carton design and text about bubbling cauldrons.
The pizza was a bit more of a novelty, topped with mild Cheddar cheese (grated and cut into monster footprints) on a black-coloured barbeque sauce. I'm usually a fan of barbeque sauce on pizza, but it didn't smell that appetising mixed with the cheese. It tasted OK, exactly as you'd expect given the toppings: mildly cheesy with sweetness from the sauce.
The trend of Halloween growing in prominence is likely to continue in the UK, as long as retailers think there is money to be made. We're a long way off the celebrations you see in the USA, but we seem to be heading in that direction. It would be a shame if Halloween was just a cheap marketing gimmick and an excuse to make bad puns. Hopefully we'll get to see more inventive and quality products emerge, where the theme is carried more than packaging-deep.
UPDATE 01/11/2018: My husband sent me a picture of some Halloween food theming which amused us both. For the spooky season Dairylea cream cheese triangles are rebranded as Scarylea.