They’re not McBoo pails, but they’re the spiritual successors!
Now at McDonald’s, each Happy Meal comes with one of two trick-or-treat pails based on The Book of Life, which isn’t exactly a “Halloween” movie, but remains perfectly on-point because its promotional imagery deals mostly in chalk white skulls.
McDonald’s has been putting out similar pails for years now. It started in 2010 with a Mr. Potato Head theme, and I don’t think they’ve missed a season since. The pails are always lidless, always stinking of fries, and always accompanied by a circular sheet of stickers.
Every year, I read the same complaints. “Why don’t they just bring back the originals?” For those unaware, McBoo pails were the McDonald’s Halloween buckets that people my age grew up with. They were similar, but much more delightfully generic, having nothing to do with cross-promotions and everything to do with simple ghosts and witches.
I couldn’t name a Happy Meal toy that meant more to me, and many others would say the same. At the same time, I completely understand why McDonald’s hasn’t made their return a priority. Designing Happy Meals that would cater to a small and super specific group of old people sounds like it’d equal Zero Dollars. Really, we should be thrilled that McDonald’s Halloween pails still exist at all, in any form!
(PS, before anyone yells at me, yes, I’m aware that calling all the original pails “McBoo” is factually inaccurate. Old habits die hard.)
I love how they stuff the food right into the pail. McDonald’s has a certain smell that is anathema to some, but heaven on Earth to others. That smell sticks to the plastic, and while I can’t claim that it lasts forever, it lasts a lot longer than the food does. If you’re not immediately turned off by the idea of a McDonald’s-scented air freshener, hang one of these pails in the corner of your living room.
Each Happy Meal comes with a sticker sheet. You could use them to decorate a marble notebook, but they’re really meant for the pails. The two Book of Life pails have different designs, but with this one, your main goal is to saturate two blank skulls with all sorts of Día de Muertos stickers. It’s more fun than I’m making it sound. Maybe I should update this paragraph with a bold pink font.
Weirdly, McDonald’s shies away from tying the pails directly to their assumed purpose. With the originals, there was always a clear indication that you were supposed to use them as candy-holders while out trick-or-treating. With the newer run, it’s a bit more vague. Hell, just say it! Why else would you give away buckets on Halloween? Nobody’s making sandcastles in October.
Of course, the ugly truth about the originals is that they really weren’t big enough to go trick-or-treating with. I mean, they were okay when we were especially young, and trick-or-treating was limited to one supervised stroll up a single block, but by the time you were old enough to make it a life-or-death competition, you needed a bigger boat.
I think our memories of those pails stem less from Halloween proper, and more from the months that followed. Regular Happy Meal toys were quickly forgotten, but McBoo pails were survivors. We’d use them for crayons and stray LEGO pieces long after the rest of our Halloween junk was back in boxes.
I’d like to think that the same will happen with this year’s pails. They will be on the floors of kids’ bedrooms until The Book of Life franchise is up to its second sequel. That’s the way it should be.
Oh, and since I haven’t had a chance to previously, let me chime in about the new Happy Meal mascot, apparently named “Happy.”
I LOVE HIM.
I know people were goofing on how hilariously frightening he is, but it seems like McDonald’s had kind of rolled with that. Besides, no matter how many times you redo his hair or make him list the names of current pop stars, it’s hard to sell a clown in 2014. A possibly-insane anthropomorphic food box is so much more contemporary. God help us all.