Back in 1991, Doritos and Pepsi teamed to give away cash prizes in a special Halloween promotion. It was called Monster Match For Monster Money, and for a short time, it was the best thing on the planet.
On specially marked packages of Doritos and Pepsi, we got game pieces that could’ve (potentially) been combined into winning sets. Prizes ranged from five bucks to a cool million, but I’ll get to the money particulars later. For now, can we all just bask in the glory of that Doritos photo? GOOD GOD.
Yes, that’s a vintage bag of Jumpin’ Jack Doritos. Well, sort of. I had the bag but not the old chips, so I filled it with Cool Ranch Doritos, and resealed the package with an iron and aluminum foil. The things I do in the name of presentation! (Alternatively: I need help.)
Jumpin’ Jack Doritos briefly returned a while back, but I only remember them from their original run. If you never had ‘em, JEEZ do I feel bad for you. Jumpin’ Jack Doritos were arguably the best chips ever made!
Blending a monterey jack cheese flavor with all sorts of colorful spices, they were twenty times better than Cool Ranch Doritos. Since Cool Ranch Doritos are already twenty times better than regular Doritos, you can just imagine how amazing those chips were. In the early ‘90s, my muse was edible.
This old Monster Match commercial explains how the sweepstakes worked. In a tricky move, you couldn’t win anything unless you bought both Doritos and Pepsi. Even then, the odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 96,489,513. (And that isn’t some humorous exaggeration. The odds are printed right on the bag. On the bright side, you had a 1 in 10 chance of winning a discount coupon!)
In the commercial, Frankenstein wins the big one while his bride endlessly nags from the kitchen. If I have things right, Frank then runs off with the prizewinning pieces, apparently intending to use the money to “trade up.” If you imagine this commercial with a regular dude in the chair, it’s gross on every front. Somehow, with Frankenstein’s Monster, everything is just so cute.
Because my life is one part Candy Land and ten parts Hoarders, I of course have one of the original game pieces. I’ll never know if it’s half of a lost fortune, but here’s something they didn’t mention: Every game piece came with a kickass Halloween sticker! You won even when you lost!
I’m gonna need to put serious thought into how I use that sticker. It’s too good to spend frivolously. You don’t find stickers starring a logo-flanked lightning-swarmed Bride of Frankenstein every day. This is like, front cover of lock-and-key diary material, here.
For those curious, this was the gamut of prizes:
$1,000,000 (1 in 96,489,513)
$1500 (1 in 3,216,317)
$500 (1 in 1,270,032)
$75 (1 in 124,603)
$25 (1 in 96,252)
$5 (1 in 595)
Discount Coupon (1 in 10)
When you’re a kid, math bends to your needs. I wouldn’t have had high hopes for the million, but that $25 prize would’ve seemed perfectly attainable. 1 in 96,252? Child’s play!
You’ll find that people around my age associate things like Doritos and Pepsi and cheap beer with the Halloween season. Promotions like Monster Match For Monster Money are the reason why.
It had nothing to do with the potential millions, either. Whenever a food-and-beverage company did something like this, out came the richly seasonal TV commercials, and the awesome six-foot standees at our local supermarket. Those contests decorated all of the spots that we weren’t allowed to, spreading the ghastly visuals of Halloween to every nook and cranny.
Or maybe that’s bullshit. Maybe they were just an excuse to eat more chips and drink more soda.
And to fill empty bags of Jumpin’ Jack Doritos with Cool Ranch Doritos.