#21: Hormel Frank ‘n Stuff!
(Introduced in 1984)
These famous franks were filled with either chili or cheese, which both became so unbelievably hot that it’s a miracle Hormel skirted by without a class action lawsuit.
That aside, people really did love the things. Every time I post a photo of them, people act like I’ve found proof of God. But really they’re just weird hot dogs with a vague tie to Frankenstein.
While “Frank ‘n Stuff” was an obvious Frankenstein pun, the creepy vibes didn’t end there. The TV commercial was wonderfully gothic, and even all of the print ads had a spooky edge to them. You wouldn’t think there’d be much of a market for horror-themed meat, but Hormel seemed to have great success with these.
They were in stores through the early ’90s, though distribution seemed to get a little smaller by the year.
#20: Rot n’ Roll Bubble Gum Cassettes!
(Introduced in 1989)
Motivated by the success of Garbage Pail Kids – and emboldened after watchdogs did nothing to dent their popularity – Topps spent a good chunk of the ‘80s throwing all sorts of gross/sketchy/offensive shit at the wall, just to see what stuck.
That included the Rot n’ Roll collection, a series of miniature mock audiocassettes containing handfuls of bootleg Chiclets. Shown here is my favorite “album,” Bad Blood, from Dracula himself. Incredibly enough, this was arguably the most wholesome cassette in the entire line!
If you don’t believe that, consider some of the other “artists” in the Rot n’ Roll lineup: Lardbutts, Zits, Rappin’ Roaches, and everyone’s favorite, Vomit & Violets. You can Google around to see the artwork on those, but trust me, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Topps in the ‘80s.
The gum was completely unremarkable, but kids didn’t buy these expecting Bubblicious. In truth, it seems that they barely bought them at all.
#19: Eerie Orange Kool-Aid!
(Introduced in 1996)
I covered Ghoul-Aid earlier in this feature, but that was just one of three Halloween Kool-Aid flavors that debuted in 1996. Unfortunately, the other two were never available in the States and seem to have been exclusive to Canada. You lucky, lousy Canucks.
One of those Canadian Halloween flavors was Scary Black Cherry, and the other was the packet seen here – Eerie Orange. Unlike Ghoul-Aid, which was an all-new blackberry flavor, these other two were just repackaged versions of existing flavors. In truth, the only “eerie” thing about Eerie Orange was that drawing of the Kool-Aid Man, dressed like a pirate.
But wasn’t that enough?
Besides, plain old orange Kool-Aid was a Halloween staple in its own right. I’ll never forget that one Halloween party in elementary school, where the teacher busted out burnt brownies and little paper cups of orange Kool-Aid. She stunk of Aqua Net and wore purple every day. I miss her.
#18: Nickelodeon Slime Sauce!
(Introduced in 2016)
Wasn’t planning to feature anything this recent on the Spooky Foods Graveyard, but I just remembered Nickelodeon’s Slime Sauce, and it deserves to be on this list.
This was, quite simply, green ketchup, sold exclusively at Walmart under their “Great Value” umbrella. I can’t remember the price, but it must’ve been a great value, given that I bought six bottles. (Which I still have, of course.)
The Slime Sauce was the spiritual successor to Heinz’s EZ Squirt Ketchup, and was the cause of great pain for yours truly. I had to drive to like seven different Walmarts to find mine, and once I finally did, I managed to bust my car on the way out of the parking lot. Caught my skid plate so badly that I had no choice but to pull the whole thing off just so I could make it home.
My “great value” Slime Sauce seemed a little less so after I got the bill from the mechanic. So yeah, in summary, I broke my car over green ketchup. (It was worth it.)
#17: Gremlins Cereal!
(Introduced in 1984)
“Gremlins, Gremlins, bite after bite… what a tasty way to satisfy a Gremlin appetite!”
This is one of the first cereals I can distinctly remember eating. I was completely nuts about Gremlins as a kid, and gobbled up anything and everything having to do with it. (Literally, in this case.)
From Ralston, Gremlins Cereal was more or less Cap’n Crunch in the shape of Gremlins. (Or Mogwais, if you preferred to think of them that way.) Beyond eating it, I have such fond memories of carrying around handfuls of the pieces, playing with them as if they were teensy tiny action figures.
Between the riotously well-made TV commercial and the on-box offer for a squeaking Gizmo plush doll, this stuff was damn near mandatory for Gremlins fans. To top it all off, each box came with a free sticker, which was one of the same stickers you would’ve found in the trading card set from Topps.
#16: Universal Studios Monsters Cookies!
(Introduced in 1998)
These chocolate medallions tasted like Oreos without the creme, which made sense given that they were from Nabisco. Why mess with success?
Each cookie featured a different Universal Monster, and they covered all of the big ones — including my beloved Gill-man. (Never a guarantee, but always appreciated!)
The second half of the ‘90s was a blessed time for the Universal Monsters. There were all sorts of toys, novelties and junk food, which went a long way in creating new fans of the classic movies. In fact, you could argue that much of today’s Universal Monsters nostalgia is based more on their late ‘90s cash-grabs than anything from the black-and-white era.
While the Universal Monsters renaissance stood apart from Halloween, these cookies did not. Nabisco launched them in September of ‘98, eager to capitalize on the spooky season. Really, nothing said “Halloween” like chocolate Draculas.
#15: Shrek 2 Kid Cuisine!
(Introduced in 2004)
To this day, I could not name a movie that had more promotional tie-ins than Shrek 2. It was endless. The USPS incorporated a picture of Shrek into their postmarks! Dude was everywhere.
One of the standouts was this Kid Cuisine meal, which was so hilariously overdone that the only non-Shrek thing in that entire tray was the corn.
Included were chicken nuggets shaped like Shrek’s head, macaroni and cheese also shaped like Shrek’s head, and then a compartment of tongue-dyeing “Swamp Pudding.” (Despite looking like the goblin food from Troll 2, the pudding was just vanilla.)
I lived for this junk. Shrek 2 Snickers, Shrek 2 popcorn, Shrek 2 everything!
Interestingly, I’ve still never seen the film, so I can’t say that the zillion promotions were very effective in their core purpose. Guess it’s easier to make me eat chicken than it is to get me to watch movies.