2021’s Best Halloween Junk Food, Part 1!

It’s a banner year for Halloween junk food. I know I say that every year, but I really mean it this time. There’s just so much out there.

What strikes me about this season is that while we’re getting big swings like Monster Mash cereal, we’re also getting tons of “little things” that don’t quite pass muster for social media buzz, but are worth picking up all the same.

There are enough new goodies to make cataloging ‘em all a tall order, but I’m gonna do my best. Here’s the first edition of 2021’s Best Halloween Junk Food. I’m usually good for three of these articles during the Countdown, but this year, I wouldn’t be shocked if we made it to five. There’s that much new stuff!

Mountain Dew VooDew III!
(Found at 7-Eleven)

Okay, so a spooky soda getting a goddamned threequel was gonna be a win no matter what the stuff tasted like. Even so, I was apprehensive about taking my first sip, as I was last in line and I’d already read soooo many negative reviews of this year’s mystery flavor.

Happy to report that I disagree with the naysayers. This is my favorite of the three VooDews, and I’m frankly shocked that folks seem lukewarm about it. To me, the mystery flavor is pretty obviously Starburst. Specifically red or pink Starburst, which are some of my favorite candies, so it’s no surprise that I married that bottle and we’re now Facebook Official.

As you’ll recall, the first VooDew was supposed to taste like candy corn, while VooDew II’s mystery flavor was generic Skittles. Going from Skittles to Starburst is a pretty “undramatic” change, so I don’t doubt that when Mtn Dew spills the beans, they’ll say it was something different. Doesn’t matter. I know Starburst when I taste it, and this is Starburst.

GRADE: A. Please keep this series going, Mtn Dew! A new VooDew every Halloween until the day I die. Only then can you stop.

Skittles Shriekers!
(Found at Walgreens)

I believe Skittles has discontinued its Zombie flavor, which is no surprise given the natural diminishing returns of trick candy that tastes like rotten eggs. These Skittles Shriekers are an excellent follow-up, maintaining Zombie’s “roulette” gimmick in a more palatable way.

The flavors include everything from Rattled Raspberry to Citrus Scream, and if I may be so bold, I think I actually prefer them to “normal” Skittles. The gimmick is that some pieces are SUPER EXTRA SOUR, with hidden centers of what I suppose is a mix of salt and fumaric acid. In practice, the SUPER EXTRA SOUR Skittles are inoffensive and even a bit pleasant. You’ll notice ‘em, but you won’t spit them out or anything.

Course, if we’re keepin’ it real, the best thing about Skittles Shriekers is that incredible wrapper design. Love the classic grim reaper mascot! I want an eight-inch plushie version of him. Not the one you can buy in stores — I mean the online exclusive edition that costs 3x more but comes with a plush scythe accessory.

GRADE: A. The only reason people aren’t making a bigger deal about Skittles Shriekers is because they were announced like six months ago. We’ve all had time to get used to their coolness. Make no mistake, if they appeared from nowhere right now, they’re all anyone would be talking about.

Cheetos Tin of Bones!
(Found at ShopRite)

Neither the White Cheddar nor the Flamin’ Hot varieties of Cheetos Bag of Bones are new for 2021, but this is certainly the first time that they’ve been sold together in a BOMB-ASS AWESOME TIN. My God, it’s beautiful!

Kudos to Chester for understanding that salty snacks in cheap tins should not belong to Christmas alone. I get that seeing the phrase “BAG of Bones” on what’s clearly a tin is incongruous, but inside are actually individual bags of both flavors, which you can then mix together.

To be honest, I think you should eat from the bags and leave the tin alone. For one thing, the two included packages won’t even come close to filling it. You’d probably need six to get to the top. Also, once Cheeto dust hits aluminum, there is no getting it off no matter how many industrial-strength cleaners you try. If you’re dying to mix them together, use a salad bowl or something.

GRADE: A. It’s just such a cool tin! Looks like the sort of promo item that’s normally reserved for Instagram’s junk food influencers.

(And yes, I know that there’s a new variety of Cheetos Bag of Bones out there, too. We’ll get to that in a future installment!)

Apple Cider Donut Oreos!
(Found at Target)

I gotta give Nabisco credit, because they’ve gotten so much better at nailing these weird flavors. When they started heading down this road a decade ago, most of the “special” Oreos had a heavy chemical aftertaste — like the cookie equivalent of wearing too much cologne. These days, they’ve all but perfected the process.

So while Apple Cider Donut Oreos aren’t exactly my speed, I can at least appreciate how accurate they are. The cookies are too sweet for me, but they’re 100% “Apple Cider Donut” in smell and taste.

Every time a new Oreo comes out, I ask myself if I genuinely prefer it to the originals. Only rarely have I said yes, and this isn’t one of those times. Still, they’re solid cookies that are more meant for small samplings than outright binging. Pair two with some pumpkin coffee, and you’ll be the King of Autumn.

GRADE: B. They taste like roadside cider and they smell like Dunkin’ Donuts. I approve of these cookies.

Monster Cereals Snack Packs!
(Found at Sam’s Club)

Man, General Mills is almost overserving us with the Monster Cereal goodies this year. Monster Mash is the main attraction of course, but don’t sleep on these adorable little snack packs.

The Count, Frank and Boo each get thematic baggies stuffed with their respective cereals. (Okay, “stuffed” may be a generous description, as there are approximately two tablespoons of cereal in each bag. But this is more about the presentation than the amount.)

What I dig most is that I can finally hand Monster Cereals out to trick-or-treaters. For a while now, my impression has been that General Mills mostly makes these cereals for nostalgic adults. While some of those adults are parents who surely share with their kids, I only have cats, so this will be *my* way of introducing younger generations to the magic of Count Chocula.

The beauty part is, they’re too young to complain about how the cereals tasted better when General Mills used oats instead of corn!

GRADE: A. I’m already sad that these might be a one-and-done for 2021.

Thanks for reading! I’m gonna hit you up with Part 2 very soon, if only because I’ll never get to all of this year’s snacks if I don’t! In the meantime, enjoy your assorted sugar rushes.