No fright shortage with clown Pennywise

Oct. 29—People have been complaining about a shortage of peanut butter crackers, particularly Ritz Bits Peanut Butter crackers. It's just the latest of rolling shortages we've become accustomed to since the pandemic.

Reasons for the shortage of anything aren't always entirely clear as manufacturers and stores don't like talking about why they're not able to make and sell what people want.

Some foods are never in shortage — things like zucchini. On any given day you can find a box of zucchini secretly left outside your door by a neighbor who's overrun with them. Or you might just find them randomly growing in your lawn or their vines sneaking into your garage with 5-pound zucchini produced overnight.

But other shortages cause panic. We're apparently in a sugar shortage thanks to extreme weather worldwide and other issues.

Sugar cane was discovered about 2,000 years ago, but it's only in the past century or so that we've come to decide that sugar in any form is pretty good — if not necessary — in pretty much everything.

Today many people see sugar account for more than 20% of calorie intake, about four times the recommended limit.

The sugar shortage comes just before Halloween. From the piles of various candies we've seen in stores for the past month or two there doesn't appear to be a shortage, but higher prices for sugar have pushed candy costs up.

There aren't many shortages of Halloween costumes. The locally grown business in upper North Mankato is expecting to ship out as many as 100,000 rental costumes today alone.

While the sales and rental business is booming, a lot of people like to make their own costumes. The DIY trend peaked during the pandemic when half or more of costumes were homemade, but about a quarter of people still like the creativity and cost savings or making their own.

You can go simple with white strips to fashion a mummy outfit or get more complex dressing up as the freaky clown Pennywise from Stephen King's "It" movie. Clowns make most people uneasy, but King's Pennywise is usually viewed as the most terrifying of all of them.

People often model their costumes on the latest movie/TV characters. This year it's Barbie and Ken and Wednesday Addams from the Netflix series "Wednesday," a spin-off of "The Addams Family."

But it's comforting to see that many of the top choices for costumes each year are old standards, like a princess, cowboy, ninja or witch.

Beyond dressing as real actors or cartoon characters, we can now expand our horizons with the added twist of artificial intelligence.

This spring a photo of Pope Francis went viral, showing him wearing a $3,500 Balenciaga white puffer coat. The photo was an AI-generated fake, but many guys will be decked out in a puffer coat, a miter on their heads, Ring of the Fisherman and pope-like glasses as they head to Halloween parties.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at or 507-720-1300.