The thing about masks is that they force you to notice them. 

It’s impossible to have a conversation with someone who’s wearing a mask without looking at it. It’s right there, just below the eyes. Because of that insistence, masks also force you to remember the pandemic and all the related fallout. 

So it’s understandable that many people would rather we went maskless at industry events like the upcoming Sweets and Snacks Expo. It’s much easier to focus on the future of candy and snacking if you aren’t forced to think about the last two years. 

The only problem is, the last two years happened. To all of us. And a lot of us lost people we really cared about because of COVID-19. So I have a proposal: Instead of seeing the masks as an annoying reminder, see them as a tribute to those who died.

The 2022 Sweets and Snacks Expo is about two weeks away, and as of now, masks will be optional. But as someone who lost their dad to COVID-19, I’m here to humbly ask that you opt in. 

Please, please wear a mask during the show and all related events. 

There is a chance that masks could be required at the event. Currently, the city of Chicago is classified as medium COVID risk level, based on CDC guidelines. If that moves to high, the city will likely make masks mandatory. Until then, masks remain a choice. It’s a choice I’m begging you to make in the affirmative, preferably with an N95 or a K95 mask. 

Yes, we have vaccines now. Yes, we have more treatments. And yes, in all likelihood, if you get COVID-19 you’ll have mild symptoms. But it’s not just about you. It’s about the people you could pass the virus on to: the immunocompromised, those who don’t qualify for the vaccines, and the convention center staff who aren’t allowed the same choice on whether or not they attend our industry’s Expo

If there’s one thing that has truly stood out about the confectionery industry it’s the camaraderie. Often, even competing candy companies share information, insights, and institutional knowledge with each other in the spirit of candy’s inherent goodness. Now, over two years since the start of COVID-19, I can’t think of a better way to expand that sense of camaraderie than by wearing a mask. 

I’m counting down the days until I can see everyone in the industry in person, and I can’t wait to once again experience the magical atmosphere that is the Sweets and Snacks Expo. So just do me one small favor: Don’t ruin the magic — wear a mask.