Making something sweet of a sour situation
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every Oregonian's life in some way or another, Hudson Hale and his family have personal experience with the virus.
"About one and half months ago my mom caught coronavirus," said Hale, a Lake Oswego resident and senior at Oregon Episcopal School. After she recovered, he and his sister caught it as well.
He lost his sense of taste for a week and half. He had a headache and was nauseous, but he said he's thankful to be healthy overall.
"We just surpassed a million deaths globally for COVID-19," he said.
And now, Hale has created a candy business — COVID CANDIES — and plans to donate proceeds to COVID-19 relief efforts.
After recovering from the virus, Hale found himself with a lot of time on his hands with remote learning only taking up about three hours each day.
"I really wanted to do what I could to help people," he said.
One day Hale was sitting in his workspace brainstorming ways to help the pandemic relief efforts. He thought about how difficult it was to have the virus and decided to create a product around it.
He researched different types of candies, looking for ones with the spiky ball shape of a COVID-19 microbe.
He came across a Japanese candy called Konpeito that fit the bill.
Hale said he liked the challenge of creating a food product that was appealing to customers despite being named after a virus.
He spent weeks talking with wholesalers and manufacturers of Konpeito in China and Japan.
The product's package design also took some time and saw many iterations.
The light pink packaging depicts many images one can associate with COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping grace the front of the package, with men in hazmat suits levitating above them. The back of the package depicts Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to the right of the product's nutrition facts. Below is an interaction of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" depicting God and Adam reaching to touch elbows instead of hands.
He said he understood having the cartoonish representations might turn off some people.
"It's not my intention with the package to take a stand or try to get people to think differently," he said.
He said it's just supposed to be funny.
About three weeks into the project, Hale enlisted the help of his friend Ryan Westcott.
"He's done a ton to help the project," Hale said. "He's doing all the backbone work of the website, making sure it's all working smoothly."
Hale said Westcott helped take the project from a product to a business.
COVID CANDIES are available for presale at covidcandies.com.
"I find that it's necessary to create a product that people enjoy … but it also has to be going toward a good cause," he said.
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