By Robert Lucke
Shelley Fisher is a neighbor to thousands of people she does not even know, particularly around holiday time. Fisher is the bakery manager at Gary and Leos IGA and bakes tons of goodies for Halloween alone, a trend that has not always been.
I have been with Gary and Leos 12 years, Fisher said. That is since they opened the store, and I was here for seven years before that when it was a Safeway store.
And during the Gary and Leos time, Halloween has just grown and grown.
This year we will just start with 60 cakes and will make more than that. Add to that 1,000 cupcakes and 2,000 to 3,000 cookies and you can see how Halloween is expanding. Years ago bakers would not dream of selling that much for Halloween.
What is happening is a combination of things in most communities. Havre is no exception.
Take popcorn balls. Years ago everyone made their own popcorn balls and they were baking their own cakes and cookies. Now that is not true. I dont know if it is because there are more single parents or more two parents working, but yet they want homemade things to eat. Whatever it is, we sure sell more and more around Halloween, Fisher said.
There is no end to all the things that can be bought for Halloween in Gary and Leos bakery. There are monster cakes patterned after Frankenstein, ghost cakes, skeleton cakes, witch cakes complete with green faces and stringy black hair, large brownies decorated with monsters and ghosts, hand cutout cookies in Halloween styles, and complete haunted gingerbread houses. The list goes on and on.
As a matter of fact, during Halloween week, I will use only orange, yellow and black sprinkles over everything in our bakery cases, Fisher said. And orange and black popcorn balls. They are a hot item these days.
Halloween has spread into produce and deli departments, too.
The deli will be making monster sandwiches and monster pizza boats and will be making caramel apples right in front of you in our creative department, Fisher added. Think of it. Years ago you couldnt get a decorated jack-o-lantern anywhere. Now we sell them all the time for Halloween.
It used to be that Halloween was a time for kids going trick-or-treating. Not anymore. More and more, adults are getting into the act.
Years ago we didnt do a lot of party trays this time of year. Now we do a lot of them for Halloween office parties and people will dress up in costumes at work, Fisher said.
Attitudes about children have changed, too. That has caused more bakery sorts of things to be sold than used to be.
It used to be that all the porch lights were on all over town and children ran up and down streets trick-or-treating. It is not like that anymore, Fisher continued. We are concerned about our children being unattended and there are not as many people out on the streets.
That has led to less trick-or-treating and many more school, home and church parties for children, and lots more bakery goods being sold, Fisher figures.
And for whatever reason, Halloween has spread all over the rest of food store, too. Its not just bakery anymore. These days there are Halloween especially designed Ziploc bags for hauling treats around, much Halloween-specific candy and yes, even the Oreos are filled with orange filling this week.
In the meantime, Fishers crew of 13 bakers (appropriate for Halloween) keep building their haunted houses and putting out hundreds of monster cupcakes.
Halloween is a major project for us, Fisher said. But along with that, we have a lot of fun and see a very professional homemade product going out the door.