Welcome to another edition of Old Halloween Newspaper Clippings — and the first for the 2020 season!
I’ve always loved writing these articles, even if they’ve never exactly stirred Dino Drac’s audience to chant my name at sports games. Really, you’d think thousand-word essays about junk from thirty-year-old newspapers would be a bigger deal.
In this series, I post old newspaper clippings that have some tie to the Halloween season, or at least to the horror genre. It’s a chance for me to work in some real deep cuts, and for you to imagine a world without color.
Count Chocula Double Fudge Pops!
Count Chocula Double Fudge Pops came and went in a flash. They arrived in 1995 and didn’t make it to ‘96. In that respect, the pops were not unlike The Yeti from World Championship Wrestling.
The low-fat treats (made with NutraSweet) lived up to their “double fudge” name with hard, icy outsides and soft, chewy insides. If you remember chocolate Bonkers, picture them as popsicles.
The box — blazing yellow and bursting with common fonts — looked like something I would’ve thrown together on Jasc Paint Shop fifteen minutes after installing the program. I’m not saying that to be mean, because I really do love it.
Freddy’s Free Ice Cream?!
Back in 1988, a little ice cream shop in McCordsville, Indiana ran an absolute gem of a Halloween promotion: Free ice cream cones, SERVED BY FREDDY KRUEGER HIMSELF.
No, really! As long as you turned up in a costume, Freddy would bless you with free ice cream. Remember, even by 1988, Freddy had already transformed from a mere slasher into an all-out pop icon. For kids of a certain age, this was like a more grown-up version of meeting Rainbow Brite at Toys “R” Us.
You’ll notice that they misspelled “Freddy Krueger” as “Freddie Kruger.” I bet it was on purpose, too. They just didn’t want to get sued. I kinda wish they had been, if only to hear the parlor owner take the stand to deliver that classic, no-fail defense, “No, it’s FREH-DEE with an I-E at the end, and KROO-GERR with no E in the middle.” I can’t tell you how many jams I’ve gotten out of with that one.
My Pet Monster at the Auto Show!
Car shows fascinate me. The big ones, anyway. Not that I mind looking at pretty cars in unusual colors, but for me, it’s really about the side attractions. The stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with cars.
Such attractions typically involve appearances by celebrities who seem entirely out of place at car shows. “Remember Gabrielle Carteris from 90210? Well, she’s right over there, next to that yellow Lamborghini. Yes, the same yellow Lamborghini that’s been at every car show in history. To tell you the truth, there is only one Lamborghini — that yellow one — and we have the whole world fooled.”
On that note, check out the special guest for this 1989 car show in North Dakota. Motherfreakin’ MY PET MONSTER! A little somethin’ for the kids! (And for any adults who knew better than to focus on cars when a six-foot My Pet Monster was standing RIGHT THERE.)
The bottom image was pulled from an old Toys “R” Us commercial, because I bet they used the same costume at this car show.
With its elegant headwear and adorable orange fur, the Autumn Furby was *the* must-have talking bird/alien of the 1999 Halloween season.
According to the Furby Wiki — because of course there’s a Furby Wiki — Hasbro made 250,000 of them. Lord knows how successful retailers were in finding 250,000 buyers for 250,000 witch-hatted Furby dolls. How does a company even decide on a number like that? Were there meetings where people in nice suits argued over the sales potential of Halloween-themed Furbys?
If you didn’t pay attention to the Furby craze of the late ‘90s, trust me, it was every bit as nutty as you’ve heard. Trying to find one in stores was close to impossible, and desperate parents were routinely paying 4-5 times the retail price to grab them on eBay. Honestly, by the era’s standards, the dolls were pretty neat.
Hi-C Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen!
Most hardcore fans know this by now, but Hi-C’s Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen was Ecto Cooler under a different name. I don’t mean it was a reasonable replacement; I’m saying it actually was Ecto Cooler. With an assist to a helpful reader, I broke that news back in 2005 — the same year this newspaper ad was in circulation.
It’s wild to think about. People were yapping about Ecto Cooler all through the early 2000s, completely unaware that it was still on store shelves. Naturally, once I discovered the truth, I bought sixteen cases. (And I still have like 15.5 of them.)
Sadly, Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen has since been discontinued, and none of Hi-C’s current flavors are even a close match. Most fans believed that Ghostbusters: Afterlife would signal another Ecto Cooler revival, but with the film postponed and the world upside-down, who knows?
PS: If you missed last week’s launch of the Halloween Countdown, you can start getting up to speed over here.