This Week’s Weirdest Technology: Chocolate Maggots and Pet Costumes

Halloween is right around the corner, evidenced by all the aisles in our local department stores and even supermarkets. Spend just 5 minutes anywhere near costumes and you’ll start saying it yourself – “I want to be…” – in excited tones that suggest you might really believe you could be that monster, zombie, fairy or ghost if you just spend the money to get the right costume.

Holidays are big money. For Halloween alone, most parents can expect to spend anywhere between $25-80 on a single child according to some statistics. Think about it; the average costume is (I’ve looked) $20 for a 6-yr-old child. Add to the costume face paint, a flashlight, the all-important trick-or-treat basket, and any other Halloween must-haves and your pocketbook can start looking suspiciously deflated. All of this just in time for you to save up for Thanksgiving goodies … right on the heels of Christmas spending.

And don’t forget dentist bills. Technology lets us produce some pretty weird stuff, and the weirder it is the more kids will eat it up – literally. Sugary sweets have taken the place of old-religion rituals and our kids love it.

The first of my weird technology pieces this week feeds into the whole Halloween theme. Imagine this: After all the trick-or-treat fun, you sit down at the kitchen table with a sugar-eager kid to sort through the bounty of booty. Out spills a colorful array of candies – the Nerds in snack-size boxes, lots of chocolate (which you might have your eye on), and then this strange tin falls on top of the pile. Intrigued, you take a closer look. Then you recoil in horror as in bright yellow text you read the word “Maggots”.

Okay so there are no real maggots in this little pull-top can, but there are white chocolate maggots. Let me say right now that the makers of this “interesting” treat (Cybercandy) are British and I’ve learned by having several close British friends that their sense of humor can be a bit more dry than we’re used to. However, these candies have hit US shelves and I was not-to-happily introduced to them by my daughter who thought they were the coolest thing ever. Believe me, if I can help it I will never again have to see my child munching on a very disgustingly realistic maggot, chocolate or not.

We don’t have to stop with the kids, either. According to The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), more than three-and-a-half million Americans purchased Halloween products for their pets last year. So much for our kids scaring the crap out of their friends, we can now let our dogs be Cujo and frighten all the trick-or-treaters.

An average of $13 is spent on pet costumes, an assortment of products that range from clever costumes and pet treats to reflective, glowing and flashing collars, leashes, and tags. Having said that, maybe Halloween pet costumes can be more like the Las Vegas strip than snarling rabid beasts.

New York Costumes actually has some great ideas like their “Fairy Tail” costume, but for technology-related weirdness the prize has got to go to Spike Brand LLC. They’ve taken the marvelous invention of lighting and miniaturized it before super-powering it. We’re talking about collars that pulse light visible from 360Ã?° at night. Even better – there’s no reason to take the blazing collar off after the Halloween fun is over – two “AAA” batteries will power the thing for up to 200 hours.

Come to think of it, I may get one of those for myself. There’s some scary stuff wandering about on Halloween, so at least if I’m visible from every imaginable direction people will see the creepy-crawlies ambush me from the shadows.

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