Halloween on the Ancient Internet: Part 1!

Welcome to the first edition of Halloween on the Ancient Internet!

I spent way too many hours poring over the Internet Archive, searching for spooky gold. It was a huge reminder of how much the internet has evolved over the last 25 years. In the late ‘90s and very early 2000s, there was a simplicity that seems downright primeval by today’s standards. Even so, there was a sincerity in that simplicity, when nobody was trying to “go viral.”

Halloween being “big online” is nothing new. Even decades ago, the internet was helping to redefine Halloween as a whole-ass season rather than just a few scattered October days. I know this for a fact, because I was there!

In this series, I’ll be showing off snippets from old websites that have some tie to the Halloween season, no matter how loose. We’ll do five quick hits per article, starting with those below!

Halloween H20!
(September 1999)

Halloween H20 is young enough to have had an official site, yet old enough for that site to have only been slightly more complicated than the average GeoCities page.

At the time, official movie sites were rarely “destinations.” Some were — Godzilla ‘98 sure had a big push — but they more often felt like glorified EPKs. Regardless, on an internet that was still forming, even the smaller sites were a blast. If you were “very online” at the time — and far fewer people were — you felt like such an insider, gobbling up those director interviews and 640×480 desktop backgrounds.

There wasn’t much to Halloween H20’s official site, though they did sneak in a screensaver and a few super tiny video clips. Retconned canonicity aside, I adore this movie, and I loved digging up this little lost part of its history.

Party City’s Top 10 Costumes!
(October 2000)

Though Party City has ceded ground to Spirit Halloween over the last several years, it used to be *the* destination for Halloween costumes. I mean, it’s still one of them, but the claustrophobic atmosphere and those lines that wind around the store like Archimedean spirals sure can put a damper on the experience.

This shot of Party City’s website from October of 2000 names that year’s ten hottest Halloween costumes. Incredibly, some of those costumes are still popular twenty years later. I couldn’t name a year since 2000 that I would’ve had much trouble finding a Pikachu, Ghostface or Power Rangers costume. They’ve become classics that’ll turn up whether there’s fresh media to support them or not.

Course, you’re less likely to have luck locating an official Digimon costume these days. I’m struck by how we can get such clear impressions of past zeitgeists just by looking at which costumes used to be fashionable!

Monster Crazy Bones at McDonald’s!
(October 2000)

In a sea of beloved treat pails and costumed McNuggets, McDonald’s other Halloween Happy Meals don’t get a whole lot of attention. Here’s one that many of you never even heard of.

Remember Crazy Bones? Tiny plastic figurines sold in blind packs? There was a game component, but I believe most people just liked to collect and trade them. They were like baseball cards for people who hated baseball and/or cards.

In October of 2000, a set of oversized MONSTER Crazy Bones was available as part of McDonald’s Happy Meal. There were 24 in all, including a dozen that were specifically Halloween-themed. (On a related note, if you can find me a “Drac” Crazy Bone, I’ve got five bucks for you.)

Throughout October, you got two Monster Crazy Bones with every Happy Meal. Many Crazy Bones fans were completist collectors, so obtaining a full set meant eating a lot of cheeseburgers. No pain, no gain.

Aliens and Predator Micro Machines!
(April 1997)

You know those little booklets that used to come packaged with larger toys, showing off a particular company’s hottest playthings? Galoob’s website was essentially a digital version of them.

Buried on their 1997 website was a section for the Aliens and Predator Micro Machines Action Fleet collections, which, among other things, included fist-sized monster heads that popped open to reveal teensy tiny playsets. Think Mighty Max, but with Hollywood cred.

The “transforming head” playset for Predator was particularly inspired. It featured everything from a collapsible roof to an exploding bunker, not to mention the world’s smallest Predator figure. A cursory glance at eBay indicates that these toys are tough to find at reasonable prices, though I’m not sure that there exists an unreasonable price for a pop-open Predator head that has an interactive jungle where its brain should be.

Kraft’s Howlin’ Halloween Party!
(October 2000)

Back in 2000, Kraft added a “Howlin’ Halloween Party” section to its website, encouraging us to serve gobs of Kraft products at our Halloween soirées.

I’m especially fond of their recipe for Waffle Crisp Wicked Snack Mix, which blends the cereal with peanuts, M&M’s, raisins and melted butter. Is Waffle Crisp still a thing? If so, I’m definitely doing that, and I mean like in 20 minutes tops. If not, I bet it’ll work almost as well with Honeycomb. Don’t mind me, guys. Just thinking aloud.

If you enjoyed this feature, good news! There are still several editions of Halloween on the Ancient Internet yet to come. Stay tuned!