It’s been a great year for Halloween foodies, but in a quiet sort of way. While we haven’t gotten anything on the level of Fruity Yummy Mummy or the Halloween Whopper, there’s been an awful lot of not-awful stuff!
As this edition of 2020’s Best Halloween Junk Food will demonstrate, the trick is to avoid relying on big department store chains exclusively. Yeah, you’re gonna find stuff at Target and Walmart, but if you stop there, it’s kind of a middling season. Take a few extra drives, and you’ll be ten pounds happier in no time.
Hocus Pocus Shake!
(Available at Carvel)
My sympathies to those who don’t live near a Carvel ice cream parlor, because this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen all season. Partnering with Freeform, Carvel has unleashed a special HOCUS POCUS SHAKE that arrives in its own collectible cup!
(If you didn’t know, Hocus Pocus has become the “mascot movie” of Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween. This year, they’re running the film no less than fourteen times!)
The color of the shake is misleading — it’s actually vanilla flavored, with a generous helping of crushed Oreos. If you’ve never had Carvel’s vanilla ice cream, trust me, nothing compares. Picture soft serve vanilla, but bless it with something marshmallowy. It’s like the ice cream from an ice cream cake, and it tastes like all of my childhood birthday parties.
GRADE: A+. The Hocus Pocus Shake is essentially a revamp of Carvel’s Slime Shake, which was another Freeform promotion. I miss the specific shoutout to slime, but objectively, this one is better.
Halloween II Slasher Sours Candy!
(Found at Spirit Halloween)
The impulse section at Spirit Halloween is loaded with overpriced novelty candy. You can safely ignore much of it, but there are a few things you absolutely need to buy. Like this.
A teensy Michael Myers tin wouldn’t normally stir me up, but my God, check out that candy. Adorable little knives! And they’re to scale with four-inch action figures, so after you get sick of eating weapon-shaped Smarties, you can turn your vintage Admiral Ackbar into a stone cold killer.
Yes, these are marketed specifically as a Halloween II thing. It’s not for any creative reason. Movie licensing rights are wild, and sometimes it’s only possible (or just phenomenally cheaper) to use logos and likenesses from random sequels.
We’re seeing a lot of that this year, and I don’t mind it at all. It’s forcing merchandisers to embrace chapters of film franchises that wouldn’t normally get much attention. (Kinda neat to walk through a costume shop and see Freddy Krueger masks with Dream Master branding. They’re the same masks, but it’s still neat!)
GRADE: A. Honestly, the candy assortment is where Spirit Halloween shines brightest this year.
Pumpkin Spice Dream Donut!
(Available at Tim Hortons)
Most of you don’t have access to Tim Hortons. Frankly, I’m surprised that *I* do. Though the Canadian chain has over 800 locations in the States, they’re mostly clustered near the border.
If you do live near one, it is absolutely your duty to try a Pumpkin Spice Dream Donut. If you’ve ever had Drake’s Coffee Cakes, the donut tastes like the super deluxe version of those. My location didn’t make it quite right — it’s missing the promised drizzle of syrup — but I still felt like I was in big fat heaven after the first bite.
It was my first time ordering from Tim Hortons, and also my first time ordering one single donut from a drive-thru… which I then paid for by debit card. In a few months, I’m not sure what I’ll remember most: The deliciousness of the donut, or the look on that employee’s face after I went through a drive-thru for one donut and paid by card.
GRADE: B+. (I can’t in good faith give it an “A” when they forgot the drizzle of syrup. I have standards!)
Cheetos Asteroids Treat Bags!
(Found at Target)
There’s nothing Halloweeny about these beyond the art on the boxes, but I’ve been dying to gush about Cheetos Asteroids for months. Indulge me.
They’re just so cute! My photos don’t offer much in the way of scale, but each Asteroid is only a bit bigger than the average pea. Eating them is so much fun, and there are a billion ways to do it. The Asteroids are small enough to “drink,” but you can also eat them one by one like a hamster. I don’t know why Frito-Lay isn’t mentioning the hamster thing in their advertising!
If you could imagine Cheetos as a breakfast cereal, that’s Asteroids. The small bags are meant to be handed out to trick-or-treaters, and doing so would be a great way to inspire neighborhood loyalty. I mean, *I* sure wouldn’t toilet-paper a house belonging to someone who gave me Cheetos Asteroids. Hell, I’d probably fight anyone who tried.
Jelly Belly’s Monster Mash!
(Found at Target)
These tiny boxes are easy to miss in Target’s Halloween section, but they’re totally worth hunting down. I’m always amazed by Jelly Belly’s ability to mimic even the most cockamamie flavors, and this Monster Mash mix is as on-point as anything else they’ve done.
The flavors include caramel corn, green apple, jewel grape soda, jewel orange and wild blackberry. Usually confectioners only succeed in making the “candy versions” of those flavors, if that makes sense, but this stuff from Jelly Belly is like dehydrated space food.
The caramel corn really tastes like caramel corn, and I’d never experienced blackberry candy that so specifically tasted like actual blackberries. Even the grape soda beans are perfect, tasting nothing like grape *candy* and everything like grape soda. Way to go, Jelly Belly!
GRADE: A. It’s like eating a science experiment.
Thanks for reading! There are enough uneaten goodies out there for me to do another edition of 2020’s Best Halloween Junk Food before October 31st. Stay tuned. If you missed the previous editions, here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.