For some parents, it’s the desire to prevent a massive, hours-long sugar high. For others, it’s the prospect of Halloween-induced cavities that rings loudest. Others still face the reality that their food allergic child can’t consume the buckets full of candy even if he wanted to. But whatever the reason, parents across the country are seeking a way to dim the laser focus on all things sweet during one of America’s most-loved holidays.
That’s where the Switch Witch comes in. According to popular lore, the Switch Witch is a mystical creature with a special affinity for Halloween candy. She loves the sweet stuff so much, in fact, that she gladly swaps toys, books and other non-food items for the bags and bags of candy from post-trick-or-treat kids.
As a mom with an allergic son, Audrey Kinsman loved the idea of some Halloween magic that would take the focus off of what her kids couldn’t have, and would instead shed light on the extra fun that they could enjoy. Unfortunately, the first year Kinsman took to the internet to find more info about this new tradition, she wasn’t able to find much. So like any enterprising mom, she decided to create something herself. Here, we talk with Kinsman about turning the Switch Witch into a business and changing Halloween traditions for kids and families across the country.
How did you know the Switch Witch would be a viable business?
Just to be clear, I did not invent the idea of the Switch Witch. It’s been around for many, many years, so I knew the concept existed. But it was the first Halloween when my son experienced disappointment and sadness due to his allergy [and not being able to eat candy], that the concept of the Switch Witch jumped into my head as a way to solve the problem at hand.
When both of my kids were not just excited, but thrilled that the Switch Witch was coming to our house, I knew there could be more to this tradition. When I searched online and found very little, I penned the first draft of the book. I swiftly got rejected from every publisher I sent the book to, so I rolled up my sleeves and started a publishing company to bring it to market. We probably made every mistake you can make in the first year, but all in all we got the books on Amazon by mid-October last year and sold close to 4,000 copies before Halloween 2014. We had struck a chord with families all across the country, and that is when I knew I had a business. This year, you can find us on Target shelves nationwide and on Target.com and Partycity.com.
What kind of response have you gotten from other families who have used the Switch Witch on Halloween?
We’ve heard from hundreds of families across the country about what the Switch Witch has done for them and their own Halloween tradition. Each story is a little different, but they all have a common theme that this is a new part of the holiday—an added element with special magic that’s making this celebration even more fun for them and their families. For kids with allergies or juvenile diabetes, or for parents who are trying to maintain low sugar consumption in their households, this has been a win-win, and that’s what we’re hearing loud and clear. It’s been such a privilege to bring this product to market and hear such positive feedback!
What is the one thing you want the general public to know about kids with food allergies, as it relates to Halloween or any other holiday?
I’ve struggled with food allergies and was diagnosed with celiac about 18 years ago. So as someone with food allergies, I know firsthand how disappointing it is to feel like you are on the outside of celebrations, and I am an adult! I want people to know that kids with food allergies don’t choose to have them, but in many cases they can be life-threatening. Always ask—and ask again—if anyone has food allergies before birthdays or celebrations. In this day and age, it’s so easy to modify or supplement your menu or birthday treat to be inclusive of those children. As it relates to Halloween, we are strong supporters of the Teal Pumpkin Project, a movement to offer non-food treats on Halloween. Together with a Switch Witch, I think kids with food allergies may have more fun on Halloween than those in a sugar coma!
Is the Switch Witch just for kids with food allergies, or do mom of non-allergic kids need this, too?
The Switch Witch is not just for kids with food allergies. It’s really about incorporating a new tradition into your family that all members of the household can participate in—one that adds more magic to the holiday! As a society, juvenile diabetes is on a rapid rise, childhood obesity is skyrocketing and massive consumption of candy on Halloween doesn’t benefit anyone. To be clear, we are not anti-candy, but we are all for moderation. Although the primary function of the Switch Witch is to swap out your candy on Halloween night for a book or toy, her presence in your home during the month of October does help remind kids that good behavior is always rewarded.