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Economy

Businesses are Ready for April’s Total Solar Eclipse with Celestial-Themed Doughnuts and Beer

NEW YORK  — Eclipse-themed beer. Jewelry and ornaments. And doughnuts that capture the sun’s disappearing act with the help of buttercream frosting.

With April 8’s total solar eclipse right around the corner, businesses are ready for the celestial event that will dim skies along a generous path across North America.

There are oodles of special eclipse safety glasses for sale, along with T-shirts emblazoned with clever slogans and other souvenirs — just like the last time the U.S. got a big piece of the total solar eclipse action in 2017.

Hotels and resorts along the prime path are luring in visitors with special packages and Southwest and Delta are selling seats on eclipse-viewing flights. Cities, museums and parks are staging watch parties to draw in tourists as well as residents.

“This is a special event and … the travel industry certainly is in a very good spot,” said Jie Zhang, a marketing professor at the University of Maryland’s business school. She also noted the eclipse craze arrives at a time when consumers are continuing to ramp up spending on new experiences.

Closer to eclipse day, there are likely to be more special products and promotions from national brands springing up, like Moon Pie’s “eclipse survival kit,” made up of four mini versions of the chocolate snack and two pairs of eclipse glasses.

A box of donuts arranged to represent phases of an eclipse is displayed at the Donut Dude shop on Friday, March 8, 2024 in Liberty Township, Ohio. Businesses are capitalizing on the April 8 , 2024, solar eclipse expected to dim skies across a generous stretch of North America. (Travel Butler County/RVP Photography via AP)

Small businesses within the eclipse’s 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path of totality appear to be leading the charge so far. Online shops and local vendors have put together a full array of creative, limited-edition merchandise: earrings, baby onesies, ornaments, games, banners and more.

Some towns and business owners have been anticipating the celestial event and huge crowds for years.

After the 2017 eclipse, “I marked my calendar,” said Sam McNulty, co-founder of Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, which is in the eclipse path this time and will see nearly four minutes of dimmed skies.

Last year, McNulty’s team brewed a hazy IPA called “The Totality” to help drum up interest in the eclipse. The on tap debut was a success, and the brewery was soon approached by local grocer Heinen’s to partner for a canned collaboration.

In the coming weeks, “thousands and thousands” of cans are set to hit store shelves, McNulty said — adding they decided to go big because of how rare the event is. Cleveland won’t be in the path of totality again for a long time — not until 2444.

“I don’t want to have to wait 420 years to brew the next batch of cans,” he joked. “So we made a very large one this time.”

Cleveland-based Market Garden Brewery has partnered with Midwest grocery chain Heinen’s to sell cans of hazy IPA called “The Totality,” shown in this photo, ahead of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. (Danni Haseley/Market Garden Brewery via AP)

The eclipse-themed beverages don’t stop at beer. Big Cuppa, a coffee shop in Morrilton, Arkansas, also has a full eclipse menu with a handful of specialty drinks. Its “Moon Pie Frappa” is a blended Moon Pie drink flavored with dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow.

Big Cuppa co-owner Joseph Adam Krutz said that he’s excited to greet customers and the many new faces set to travel through town next month. Krutz said his shop has been gearing up for a while along with other businesses in downtown Morrilton. He drives by a countdown clock each day.

“We’re prepared. Bring it on,” Krutz said.

And don’t forget the snacks. In Ohio’s Butler County, a shop called The Donut Dude will have an “Eclipse Donut Special” that shows the eclipse’s stages as the sun disappears behind the moon.

The special goes on sale later this month and consists of seven filled-doughnuts with rolled buttercream, two galaxy-themed cake doughnuts and safety glasses so customers can watch the event while snacking away.

“We’re anticipating a lot of fun,” co-owner Glen Huey said.

Since the doughnut shop is closed on Mondays, Huey is looking forward to watching the spectacle as it passes over his town between Cincinnati and Dayton.

A drink called the “Moon Pie Frappa” made at Big Cuppa, a cafe in Morrilton, Ark., is shown on Thursday, March 14, 2024. Big Cuppa has a full eclipse menu with a handful of specialty drinks. (Austin Krutz/Big Cuppa via AP)

In the U.S., Texas has the best odds for clear skies and the state expects to be swarmed with tourists. With a prime location, eateries in the town of Grapevine have a multitude of offerings: a “Blackout Dinner” at Hotel Vin and a “Solar Eclipse Shake” at Son of a Butcher.

Many businesses along the path of totality are offering special events leading up to the eclipse, too.

New York’s Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is promoting “Sips to the Eclipse” for the weekend ahead of April 8. Guests will be able to visit 10 wineries for tastings — some of which are offering additional attractions like an eclipse eve tarot card reading, special slushies and half-moon cookies.

Katherine Chase, executive director of the wine trail, said the promotion was planned in anticipation of all the people coming to the Finger Lakes region for the eclipse.

“The wineries can go as big or as little as they’d like to entice folks to come,” she said.

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