I’ve been waiting to write about these STUPID AWESOME POPSICLES for more than a decade. Sounds nuts, but LOOK AT THEM:
I first heard of Good Humor’s Vampire’s Secret ice pops back in the early days of X-E, from readers who kinda sorta remembered them, but only with sketchy, impressionistic details.
The photo above, which belongs to Planet-Q on Flickr, was perhaps the internet’s first slice of legitimate Vampire’s Secret evidence. Posted in the early 2000s, it’s still the best proof online.
I didn’t grow up eating these, and originally believed that I was just born too late to have done so. After all, from concept to design, Vampire’s Secret looks like something from the very early ‘80s at latest, but more likely from the 1970s. In truth, these babies were born in 1992. How in God’s name did I miss them?!
Each black cherry ice pop hid a “cherry sauce” center, obviously meant to resemble blood. Vampire’s Secret pops were on the nose to an almost farcical degree, and that’s exactly what’s so great about them. They probably weren’t made with Halloween in mind, yet they’re the most sincere Halloween treats I’ve ever seen. Linus would eat the shit out of these.
But the story does not end there!
Back in 2003, at least one X-E reader distinctly remembered buying the treats from ice cream trucks. This despite the fact that the evidence clearly identified them as in-store purchases. Ice cream men are gods, sure, but even they can’t hawk 12-count boxes of popsicles to individual kids.
I think I’ve finally gotten to the bottom of it, and the truth is more interesting than anything involving early ‘90s ice pops should be:
I recently acquired this Good Humor decal, meant to be stuck onto ice cream truck windows as part of their ever evolving pictorial menus. I paid more for it than I’m comfortable sharing. Why live for tomorrow when you can have a sweet ass vampire sticker today?
Check out the product title. Yes, while Vampire’s Secret pops were sold by the box in stores, Vampire’s DEADLY Secret pops were only sold on an individual basis, mostly from musical vans.
That is SO GODDAMNED COOL.
Vampire’s DEADLY Secret pops were nearly twice the size of the bulk brand, and a touch more menacing. My working theory is that the “deadly” versions came first, and that Good Humor got cold feet about trying to sell such a horrible adjective to supermarkets.
There are several plausible reasons for why so few seem to remember these, from their limited reach (many states never saw either version) to the fact that neither popsicle was on the market past 1993. (Maybe ‘94 if I’m being generous.)
Such a simple concept would’ve been more at home in the monster-crazed ‘60s, but to be fair, there was that quiet “vampire fad” in the early ‘90s, too. From Little Dracula toys to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (and later Interview with the Vampire, of course), the undead were in style.
Perhaps that’s what drove Good Humor to try something so thematically risky, but the reality is that kids would’ve been down with eating cherry blood whether cartoons and movie stars were cueing them or not. Kids know a golden opportunity when they see one, even when it’s red.
I’d love to see Vampire’s Secret (and especially Vampire’s DEADLY Secret) make a surprise return, but it’s silly to expect one. They were too pure for 1992, so good luck integrating them now. Course, that hasn’t stopped some fans from trying, I guess because it’s easier to sleep on a 1% chance than no chance at all.
They might be right.
UPDATE: As a few readers who live outside the States pointed out, Vampire’s DEADLY Secret bars still (sort of) exist in other countries. In fact, Unilever — the parent company of Good Humor — made and distributed the bars under other names long before the ‘90s!
It’s difficult to say if these Dracula bars are exactly the same as Vampire’s DEADLY Secret, but given the thematic similarities and the fact that both brands belong to Unilever, it’s a pretty safe bet.
These bars certainly aren’t available in the States, so if you’re in one of the countries where it’s still possible to find, buy and eat blood-filled popsicles, consider yourself lucky!