Last year’s tribute to vintage Halloween treat sacks seemed to go over well, so let’s do that again.
Collected below are another five ancient trick-or-treat bags. All were originally given away as promotional freebies, meant to increase our loyalty to burgers, beer and batteries. Pillowcases were more effective, but these sacks sure looked a lot cooler:
McDonald’s Halloween Safety Bag! (1978)
This bag is older than I am, and it comes with a delicious bit of trivia: The “McBoo” character may have become world famous through McDonald’s Halloween Pails promotion, but he actually debuted many years earlier!
Originally conceived as a simple “sheet ghost,” McBoo appeared on a number of McDonald’s items, including a 1970s version of their Halloween treat certificates. He’d only later be “re-imagined” as an orange bucket. Funnily enough, once the pails went kaput in the ‘90s, McBoo returned to sheet ghost form as part of a different McDonald’s promotion!
All things being equal, I think ol’ McBoo has a rich enough history to be considered as a legit McDonald’s mascot. He’s not on the level of a Ronald or a Grimace, but somewhere in McDonaldland, McBoo is haunting something.
Bud Light Fright Night Bag! (1987)
I’m stretching the definition of a trick-or-treat sack on this one, because it’s unlikely that there really were kid-target Bud Light promo items. On the other hand, every kid loved Spuds MacKenzie, and the beer-pushing dog certainly landed his share of plush dolls. So who knows?
For me, MacKenzie’s “work” on the Bud Light Fright Night campaign was his (well, her) greatest achievement. In 1987, you’d see Spuds dressed like Dracula on everything from plastic steins to big ass cardboard displays at supermarkets across the country. It was awesome.
Between Spuds and Elvira, I grew up thinking that the Halloweens of my adulthood would consist of nothing but constant beer-drenched costume parties. Instead I kinda just lay on the couch and hope for spooky-themed M&M’s commercials. Oh well.
Duracell Frankenstein Bag! (1980s)
I never knew how much I needed an orange Frankenstein until I found this bag. The fact that he’s wearing a blazer made from goldfish is just the gravy, baby.
That this was a promo item from Duracell might seem odd, but it really isn’t. One of the golden trick-or-treat rules is to carry a flashlight at night, even if the only kids who trick-or-treat at night are far too “cool” to be seen carrying flashlights.
I believe that Duracell still uses the “Durabeam” name to brand their flashlights, and personally, I’m all for it. “Durabeam” sounds like a match-ending Pokemon move, or like something a really advanced Jedi breaks out when shit isn’t going his way.
Sunkist Treat Bag! (1984)
I’ve always loved Sunkist’s attempts to make pumpkins look “Sunkist orange.” That same design was repeated on a hundred promo items, including giant inflatables that hung from grocery store ceilings like teasingly unobtainable balloons.
I’m into this treat sack now, but the kid version of me might’ve been concerned about it seeming “too promotional.” Even as children, there were lines that couldn’t be crossed if you wanted to maintain your social status. Walking around as a soda billboard was theoretically pushing it.
Life’s never easy, not even when you’re a six-year-old hunting free candy.
Campbell’s Juice Works Treat Sack! (1984)
The best thing about this sack is its source: Campbell’s Juice Works! For those who don’t recall, Juice Works was a sprawling line of fruit juices, which collectively acted as Campbell’s attempt to be as synonymous with “kiddy drinks” and they were with “kiddy soup.”
This bag — which I assume was given away to anyone who bought enough Juice Works products — really shines on the back, where an ugly vampire shares a bunch of Halloween safety rules.
Note how the first rule, about not eating any candy until your parents have inspected it, is in all caps. You’d find the same rule on today’s lists, but this was back during the overdramatized “candy tampering” era, when everyone swore that they knew someone who got a poisoned Snickers bar on Halloween. Hence the caps!
Thanks for reading about five old plastic bags. I love you.