The Meaning of Halloween | An All Hallows Toast 2013

Mothers have a holiday.  Fathers do too.  Veterans, the United States of America, laborers, pilgrims, grandparents, and Jesus all have holidays.  But do the children have one, a day that is all their own?  Yes.  Yes, they do.

There exists one night each year when the children make the rules, when they use their imaginations to the fullest, when they are given free reign of their worlds, when every door opened offers the opportunity for reward.  That night is Halloween.

Halloween is the one day out of the year that truly belongs to the children, the ones ages two to twelve, and the ones ages thirteen to 102 who refuse to grow up.  Halloween is the one night of the year when it is alright for each of us to return to the fantastic world of childhood, when we can allow make-believe things to scare us, and when we can dress up, be silly, and be ourselves – just as the children do.

So, here is to the children, both young and old, to the fantasies of youth, and to the one night when imagination knows no boundaries.  Here is to our holiday.  Here is to Halloween.

Universal Monsters Week | Mezco, Trick or Treat, & WOWindows

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The only authentic Halloween decoration featuring the Universal Monsters this year is a pretty nifty WOWindows poster featuring Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster.  But — have no fear — there are plenty of other Universal Monster items out there this season.  So, hold on to your electrodes, as we recap the shocking offerings.

Diamond Select Toys is supposedly wrapping up its Universal Monsters line of toys, ending on a disappointing note with a non-likeness, no-need-to-be-licensed Van Helsing figure.  Although Diamond is coming out with an amazing Creature from the Black Lagoon figure next year, as well as a nice Son of Frankenstein, without any signs of Dracula’s Daughter, Son of Dracula, Werewolf of London, Kharis, or any supporting characters, it’s time to turn to other toymakers for our fill of Monster goodness.  And it looks as if Mezco is slowly taking away Diamond’s luster with its expansive offerings: Universal Monsters Living Dead Dolls and stylized figures.  This October saw the release of the amazing Dracula Living Dead Doll.  The Mummy stylized figure, which follows the ghastly Monster and Creature figures released earlier this year, will come to life soon.

Mezco Monsters

However, the grandest of this year’s Universal Monster items are not even officially licensed by Universal Studios.  Nope.  Instead, they are licensed through the estates of the individual actors.  Trick or Treat Studios, the up-and-coming leader of the Halloween mask-making world, has unleashed two great masks: The Bela Lugosi Mask (based upon Lugosi in the DRACULA play) and the Phantom of the Opera Mask featuring the likeness of the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney, Sr.  These two incredible masks deserve to the be the first in a long line of masks based upon the actors who invented the monsters.  Unfortunately with Universal involved, one never knows if “what should be” will be, but we’ll see…

Universal Monsters Week | Monster Hot Wheels & New Stock Art

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The official Universal Studios Monsters are back from the grave, this time adorning some sweet rides from Hot Wheels.  These creepy cars are now available at select grocery stores, such as certain Kroger stores and Winco, and will probably be found in the Halloween aisles.  In total there are six vehicles: Creature from the Black Lagoon Low Flow, Dracula Neet Streeter, Bride of Frankenstein ’59 Cadillac Funny Car, Frankenstein Double Demon Delivery, The Wolf Man Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus (not pictured) and The Mummy 1934 Chrysler Airflow (not pictured).

Universal Monsters Hot Wheels

And what is interesting about them is that they feature new artwork for our Monster friends.  Instead of the horrible CGI monstrosities created at the beginning of the last decade, these monster toys feature characters with a more “hand-illustrated” look.  And while none of them look much like the original characters (or, God forbid, actors), it is a step in the right direction, even if it means eliminating the Wolf Man’s dog snout (poor choice, indeed, Universal).  Perhaps these line-art versions of the Monsters will be seen on other products in the future.  Maybe the CGI-looking, computer-drawn abominations from 2002 will finally be gone forever…  Only time will tell.  All I know is that I’d give almost anything to have these 1997 versions back.  Or the 1991 Monsters…  Or the Aurora Monster Model art…  But anything is better than the ones we’ve had to endure for the past decade.  That is certain.  We’ll be back Friday with our final look at the Universal Monster products of 2013.

Scary Snacks: Part Boo

Continuing with our efforts to inform you about all of the scary snacks out there this Halloween, we decided it was necessary to add an additional day to our Halloween Treats Week.  Our Universal Monster updates will debut in two days.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.  Any opinions stated in the following article should only be considered the opinions of the individual author, and not the Big Scare as a whole.

As we mentioned last week, General Mills and its famous Cereal Monsters are back and better than ever.  However, the news does not end with the vintage boxes and the return of Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.  Nope, Count Chocula has diversified and is now not only sponsoring a batty bowl of breakfast, but also pitching anytime snacks in the form of Count Chocula chocolate-flavored cereal bars.  And, pardon us for getting editorial here, but they are delicious.  (We are seriously addicted to these things.)

If vampire cereal bars aren’t enough to grab your attention, how about vampire Fruit Roll-Ups?  Yes, General Mills (under the Betty Crocker label) is offering up some Halloween-themed Fruit Roll-Ups.  These fruit snacks come with cool Halloween characters printed on them.  The fruit snacks are also offered in Franken Berry and Boo Berry flavors.

Have you uncovered any devilish delights that we need to know about?  Share them in the comments section below!

Scary Snacks: Part One

This was originally supposed to be our final post highlighting Halloween Treats.  However, there are so many that we want to tell you about, we’ve decided to split this post into two articles.  Scary Snacks: Part Two will debut Monday.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

Many of you may remember the 1990s, when the Universal Monsters, Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay Chips were inseparable.  Last year, we told you about the new monster-sized bags of chips bearing not only a Frankenstein image, but an official Universal Studios Monsters logo.  They are back again this season in three designs: Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy.  All bear the official Universal Studios Monster logo, and the Mummy even comes in an alternative plastic bucket available at Target.  No, the artwork doesn’t look much like the classic Monsters, but it is nice to see Frito-Lay continuing its partnership with Universal, even if this year’s store displays did not have anything to do with the Universal Monsters.  These bags also come shipped to certain stores in official Universal Monsters boxes, so be on the lookout for those!

LETHAL LAYS

Universal Monsters Frito-Lays

DEADLY DORITOS

The Monster bags aren’t the only creepy chips.  In fact, Frito-Lay is also releasing a Doritos-only bag of Halloween goodness.  This package is more traditional in is approach, but what’s more is that the chip bags, themselves, also contain the Halloween print.  The only drawback in this bag is that it does not distribute the flavors evenly, leaving Cool Ranch fans left begging for more!

Halloween Doritos

TERRIFYING TOMBSTONES

And, finally, Tombstone is back with a new set of Halloween Pizzas.  Take a look at the three new characters in this year’s assortment.  Pretty cool, huh?  Dracula is even sporting piercing blue eyes!  These pizzas are widely available, and the company is promoting these precious pies with social media — something that deserves to be pointed out, given that other companies have yet to fully take advantage of the possibilities with online Halloween promotions.  Check out their Facebook page.  And, who knows, maybe Pepsi/Frito-Lay and Universal will get a clue and do something with officially licensed Monsters.  One can dream… or is it “nightmare?”

Tombstone Halloween Pizzas

The Best Halloween Candy of 2013

If you have not already bought the candy for 2013’s batch of Treaters, you’re in luck.  Today, we are going to hand out 2013’s Best of Halloween awards, with this year’s emphasis on Treats.  The Big Scare is run by some very scrupulous candy connoisseurs, and we are proud to share with you our picks for the Best Halloween Treats of 2013.

First up, our pick for…

BEST ARTWORK

Our pick for best artwork goes to Nestle’s Ultimate Scream fun-size candy pack.  This 45-piece bag of goodies is filled with Nestle’s top sellers, like Crunch and Butterfinger.  But, as with our last post, it’s really what’s on the outside that counts for this award.  Clearly, this bag was created by a Monster-lover.  It’s true that this package has been around for a while, but it still has yet to be beat, except by Nestle’s now hard-to-find companion pack, Classic Scream.  The image of the Frankenstein Monster and the “scream queen” is simply iconic.  Too bad the Dracula bag is no longer widely available, as it would have easily tied for this award.  Better than any officially licensed food-product from Universal Studios, this bag scares up first place in the art department.

nestle ULTIMATE SCREAM

BEST ASSORTMENT

Our winner for the Best Halloween Assortment award is one that will be familiar to seasonal enthusiasts.  Anyone who has been reading the Big Scare since its launch will know that we are huge on themed-treats.  The bland, boring fun-sized candy like the treats in the bag above do very little for us.  It’s Halloween, and that means we have high-expectations for the fun-level of our candy.  In terms of fun, it’s hard to beat the Hershey’s Halloween Shapes Assortment.  This package of treats is the ultimate combination of taste and terror.  Between the York Peppermint Pumpkins, the Hershey’s tombstones, and the Reese’s pumpkins, the taste quality is hard to beat… and so are the shapes!

Hershey's Halloween Candy

BEST HALLOWEEN CANDY

The award for Best Halloween Candy is not given lightly.  A lot has to be considered before the award is bestowed upon a creepy candy-maker.  That being said, this year’s winner is Palmer and its 3-pound bag of Monster Munch chocolate candy.  For decades, Palmer has been one of the staunchest supporters of themed Halloween candy.  From the old-time Witch Pops to the classic Monster Munny (Money), Palmer has been the mastermind behind many a child’s Halloween memories.  So, it seems only fitting that a giant bag of Palmer monster-shaped candy should be the winner of 2013’s Best Halloween Candy award.  In this massive package, you will find 3-pounds of chocolate treats — all appropriately themed and decorated.  First is the Monster Munny (Money), an item which has been around for decades.  Featuring the cartoon likenesses of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Witch, and a Great Pumpkin, the Monster Munny (Money) is a very special treat.  Split up into demonic denominations and made of Palmer’s fantastic double-crisp, it could only be beat if the chocolate were molded to look like the tinfoil wrappers…  Also included in the Monster Munch are two-tone Peanut Butter Pumpkins, which do come shaped like jack-o’-lanterns, yummy, soft fudge-filled Boos, and the most creative of the lot: milk-chocolate zombies (white chocolate corpses in chocolate coffins).  This set can simply not be beat.  Not only is it tasty, but it has all of the heart that Halloween candy should have.  Congratulations to Palmer and its Monster Munch!

Palmer Chocolate Monster Munch Mix