When I say “Halloween Happy Meal,” your mind drifts to one of two things: Those awesome buckets, or that army of costumed Chicken McNuggets.
And hey, I get it! Objectively, those are the best spooky goodies McD’s has ever produced. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t others deserving of 700-word tributes, though.
So let’s talk about their Haunted Halloween Happy Meal, from 1998.
For people my age, this set is mostly familiar through eBay hunts and the occasional yard sale. There’s a dark period in our lives when we’re too old for Happy Meal toys, yet not old enough to stop giving a shit that we’re too old. The Haunted Halloween set debuted when I was stuck in that terrible hell, appropriately scored by Garbage’s Version 2.0.
Actually, I bet some of you own toys from this set despite having no earthly idea about what they’re supposed to do. I’ll explain! They’re figural candy dispensers, you see, but figural candy dispensers that were designed to specifically dispense Nerds.
Each Haunted Halloween Happy Meal came with a small packet of Spooky Nerds, which were new at the time. Wonka must’ve paid a fortune for that, as I can’t imagine McD’s making candy dispensers that literally only worked with Nerds without getting one of those big fat Ed McMahon novelty checks first.
Forget the Nerds, because these were excellent toys in their own right. Each dispenser was of a costumed McDonaldland character, and the cuts ran surprisingly deep!
Ronald McDonald comes dressed as a blue scarecrow in a pinkish purple hat, which is exactly the sort of bizarre costume you’d expect from someone who’s already painted up like a clown.
Grimace masquerades as a giant spooky pumpkin, and I gotta say, I am all about that. He’s my favorite McDonaldland character in a walk, so the fact that Grimace’s costume is at least a contender for best-in-show makes me feel like I’m backing the right horse.
(There was also a second, simpler version of Grimace available as the “Under 3” toy. I’m only mentioning it because if I don’t, someone will drop a comment about how I “forgot the other Grimace,” and then I’ll be totally pissed off for the rest of the night.)
And then we have Birdie, donning a black cat disguise. IMO, Birdie doesn’t get nearly enough credit for adding realism to McDonaldland. She was the only one who wouldn’t take the gang’s nonsense at face value. I recall a TV commercial where Ronald was playing checkers with a cat, and Birdie deadpanned, “Ronald, you taught the cat how to play checkers?”
Maybe that’s where she got the inspo for this costume, I dunno.
Next is the Hamburglar, and he’s a stunner. That ghoulish goblin costume is *chef’s kiss*, and throwing a live spider onto its tongue was as close as McDonald’s ever got to being sincerely creepy.
The fact that Hamburglar looks Halloweeny as-is makes this toy a double-dose of eerie excellence. (Sorry for all of the hyphens and adjectives; I grew up on American Science & Surplus catalogs.)
These last two are my favorites.
First is a McNugget Buddy, dressed like a skull. If you’ve been collecting McNugget Buddies from their dedicated Happy Meal sets, don’t sleep on this guy, even if he’s only on the checklist with an asterisk. He’s way cooler than many of the “official” Halloween McNugget Buddies, because very few things beat an anthropomorphized chicken nugget wearing a bone mask shaped like a cello.
Finally, there’s Iam Hungry. This short-lived McDonaldland character was basically McD’s answer to that wide-eyed puffball who used to peddle Honeycomb. His commercial appearances were something else. The McDonald’s Wiki describes him as a “green floating monster who eats anything he sees, preferably McDonald’s food.” In candy dispenser form, Iam Hungry makes me yearn for a skee-ball version of Monster Mini Golf.
I enjoy the Haunted Halloween Happy Meal toys. It’s not my favorite “spooky set” from McDonald’s, but given the competition, that’s hardly a criticism. Should you ever decide that you need them, they’re all over eBay — and some sellers even include the nasty old bags of Spooky Nerds!