Allhallows Eve, or Halloween as it is more commonly known, is the one night of the year when evil spirits walk the earth, when witches and ghosts travel abroad…and when children go from house to house calling Trick or Treat.
While this Halloween tradition of asking for sweets or biscuits from every house owner is extremely widespread in the US, prompting a high level of Halloween-related product launches and marketing, it has been a much less commercial event in much of Europe for many years.
The UK has always had a tradition of celebrating Halloween, but countries on the Continent have more often celebrated All Saint's Day (the day after Halloween), which is often a public holiday. But this has changed in the last few years, with food and drink producers and marketers realising the massive potential that Halloween has to offer.
That Halloween is now clearly a Europe-wide phenomenon is clear from the range of new products launched to tie in with the event and identified by market research company Mintel and its Global New Product Database (GNPD). While many of the products launched are confectionery products, they are by no means the only products with a Halloween tie-in, with many companies realising the need for a hot meal before heading out Trick or Treat-ing.
In the confectionery segment, the Halloween Mix variant of Toms Toms popular Bonbon brand is typical of the kind of product launched for Halloween. The jelly sweets, which come in individual bags packed within a larger family-size pack, sell for DKr20 (€2.7), and also include a glow in the dark figure.
In Germany, meanwhile, Kraft Foods has launched a new range of chocolates for Halloween under the Milka brand. The chocolates include Alpenspuk (spooky), ghost-shaped chocolates made with Alpine milk and white chocolate and Hexen (witch) Zisch, ball-shaped chocolates made with Alpine chocolate and a fizzy filling. The 100g bag retails for €1.79.
In Belgium, Douwe Egberts has created a Halloween product which is perhaps aimed at a slightly older age group, or for parents wanting to offer their children something less sweet as a Halloween treat. The product is Crac A Nut Halloween Peanut and Snacks from Duyvis, a limited edition of the spice coated peanut snack packaged in a 300g metal can and priced at €2.89.
Moving away from the sweets and snacks segment, and into the German market, Golden Spooks Potato Patties from McCain are crispy, mashed potato patties in Halloween shapes such as pumpkins, ghosts and skulls. The bag also features a competition to keep kids entertained while they are waiting for the patties to bake in the oven.
Also in Germany, Maggi, part of the Nestle group, has launched a new addition to its Guten Appetit instant soup range - Gespenster Suppe Tomatensuppe mit Nudeln, a Halloween tomato soup with ghost-shaped pasta. The product, which provides three child-size servings of soup, is available all year round.
Germany is clearly a country which has taken Halloween to its heart, given the large number of products introduced to coincide with the event. Coca-Cola has launched a Blood Orange version of its popular Fanta brand there, which will be available in 1.25 litre plastic bottles for the period around Halloween only. German adults, on the other hand, will be able to keep themselves warm on Allhallows Eve with Halloween Wine from Dr Demuth - a 5.5 per cent abv fruit wine-cocktail with a fresh-fruit flavour, strikingly packed in 75cl glass bottles and priced at € 2.29.
The GNPD also shows that the increasing 'Europeanisation' of Halloween is not a new phenomenon, with several products such as Trick or Treat Cake from Melegatti in Italy, Halloween Milk from Robert Wiseman in the UK or Halloween Jam from Andresy in France all hitting the market last year.
While it is unlikely that Halloween celebrations in most of Europe will reach the same level of furore as in the US - at least in the immediate future - it is clear that the festival is here to stay, and that European kids (and adults) will have plenty to delight their taste buds this week.
Mintel's Global New Products Database looks at new product development, and features records of food, drink and non-food product launches. For more information, visit www.gnpd.com or call +44 20 7606 45533.