SpaghettiOs: Salve for the Human Heart

Though we usually don’t think of canned pasta as health food, for one Massachusetts mom SpaghettiOs have calmed both her and her autistic daughter’s souls during the pandemic. Because her autistic daughter’s routine has been so sorely interrupted it is the only food she will eat and it has been in short supply during the pandemic.

While many went crazy buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Crystal MacDonald had just one product she needed to find: SpaghettiOs. Her daughter, Ashlyn, is mostly nonverbal and the 11-year-old has taken comfort during the pandemic in SpaghettiOs with meatballs.

MacDonald believes that because food is a more intense experience for her daughter than the average person that the SpaghettiOs are the only food with the right balance of texture and flavor she could handle. Without her routine, which is vital to her daughter’s and many other autistic people’s mental health, she couldn’t handle eating other foods. MacDonald believes the predictability of taste and texture bring Ashlyn a sense of control in these troubling times.

When local stores ran dry MacDonald spent her time calling or visiting up to 20 out of the way stores each day. Eventually she took her quest to social media and the Sun Chronicle eventually featured MacDonald in a August piece about food shortages amidst the pandemic.

MacDonald has already received hundreds of cans in support and the Campbell’s Soup Company has now heard of her story and is committed to sending MacDonald and Ashlynd a one-year supply of the calming SpaghettiOs.