Okay, with the holidays, I know I lay it on too thick. For some of you, Halloween is just another day, or at best, an excuse to watch onscreen gore and feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
Many of you don’t or won’t decorate. Many of you have no continued interest in Halloween costumes. Many of you start and end your Halloween “participation” by reading what idiots like me put online during this time of year.
It’s fine, I get it. But there’s still one thing nobody can take away from you: Weird Halloween junk food. I refuse to believe that anyone is too old, too poor or too disinterested for scary cupcakes and haunted tortilla chips. When all else fails and Halloween seems more like a concept than an experience, you’ll always have frightening fat and creepy carbohydrates. And deathly dietary fiber, though in reality there won’t be much of that.
Below: Five examples of 2011’s best Halloween junk food. I will make your mouth water, even if it means using restraints and a fire hose.
Hostess Orange Cupcakes!
These aren’t new for 2011, and I have proof. After I bought them, I tried to stuff ‘em into the “not really for eating” section of our kitchen cabinets, only to be greeted by another box of Hostess Orange Cupcakes, which I apparently didn’t get around to covering last year. What a moment that was. I’m trying to develop it into a short story, but I can’t shake the notion that somebody else already has.
Consider these cupcakes a concession from Hostess. Since those decidedly unHalloweeny Transformers snacks took the spots of their usually-more-scary treats, they threw us something with a closer tie to the season. Baby, nothing screams “Halloween” like yellow cupcakes that reek of Lemon Pledge.
Maybe the pill abuse messed with my vision, but those are yellow, right? I mean, they’re at least more yellow than they are orange. And I’d almost be willing to forgive that if they didn’t stink like lemons. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice smell. It’s appetizing. But it is not orangey.
Course, the only reason I’m complaining is because they look so flat and misshapen. It’s becoming clear that some kitchen cabinet bungle led me to open and photograph the cupcakes I bought last year. As ever, Hostess pays for my sins.
Fortunately, this lemony faux pas is saved by the box, which depicts a purple night sky filled with bats. When you live in a house like that, you’re Halloweeny no matter what color you are.
Oh, and they taste like lemons, too. It’s almost maddening to see Hostess classify these as orange. I feel like four lights-era Picard.
Mission Halloween Tortilla Chips!
I’ve since learned that Mission is a big enough brand, but I never noticed ‘em until they started dyeing tortilla chips orange and black.
The “Halloween chip” is a sadly underutilized gimmick, and the last time I can remember anyone giving it a serious try was back in 2006. I feel somehow indebted to Mission, and I know that returning the favor will be a steep price to pay. I wanted orange and black chips, but not enough to kill anyone. Except maybe my brother’s wife, so I’ll win the family-wide Scrabble tournament come Thanksgiving Day.
They’re restaurant style, which has come to simply mean “triangular.” I wish companies would admit it, as I bet a friend that I could make the term “triangle style” catch fire by the middle of 2012. If I succeed, I will own New Zealand.
The chips look strangely elegant, and pair nicely with Tostitos’ “Restaurant Style” salsa. With salsa, that term means so much more. Gone are the days of enormous “plain tomato” chunks. Bask in the glory of salsa drippy enough to eat like a soup, which is something I have done and will continue doing.
Oh, and Hostess? See half of those chips? That’s orange.
Act II Candy Corn Popcorn Mini-Bags!
Found at Walmart, and the price was unreal: A huge box of twenty mini-bags for four dollars. This is an effective defense to anyone who may challenge Walmart’s policies or morality. No argument will be lost by the side who can say that they sell this much popcorn for four bucks. It’s “infinity no backsies” times a trillion.
These mini-bags aren’t as “mini” as some of ACT II’s other “minis,” a statement that is merely my covert way of paying tribute to the 84th best cartoon mouse. They’re almost double the size of the mini-bags I’m used to seeing.
The popcorn is supposed to taste like candy corn, and so long as candy corn popcorn should taste exactly like kettle corn popcorn, it does. A small attempt was made to make the popcorn look like candy corn, but it’s weak, and if I have to type “mini” or “corn” one more time, this review will double as my suicide letter.
I’m enjoying the idea of handing these out to trick-or-treaters come Halloween night. Or, you know, Halloween afternoon, since the only kids who fish for free candy during the afterhours are snarky sixteen-year-olds who don’t wear costumes. I won’t open the door for those types.
Kraft Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows!
Man, Kraft really went all-in with the Halloween marshmallows this year. I wonder what lit that fire? There had to be a personnel shakeup very high up in the chain.
They’re small, brown, pumpkin-shaped mallows intended to taste something like pumpkin pie. I’ve never eaten pumpkin pie, so I cannot comment on how true that is. They’re okay, for whatever that’s worth.
The real thing is their smell. It’s good, but it’s impossibly sharp. Ever have one of those Gingerbread Lattes from Starbucks? When you open a bag of these mallows, it’s like being trapped in a box with ten thousand steaming cups of them.
The mallows look, taste and smell thematic. It’s a worthy Halloween junk food, but Kraft wasn’t finished:
Kraft Jet-Puffed JUMBO Pumpkin Mallows!
These are vanilla flavored, which I’m taking to mean “not specially flavored.” Marshmallows this huge and Halloweeny really have no need for special flavors. Like a bitchy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they get by on their looks.
The package design is sweet, too. One of 2011’s best examples of an idealized “autumn scene.” When we think of Halloween in July, that’s what we picture. Then it gets here, and it’s a hundred degrees out. But when you have this bag, it feels more like a cool 92.
The marshmallows are HUGE. They’re monsters. Kraft recommends using them to create chocolate-dipped single treats, which is their way of saying, “these are really too big to do normal marshmallow things with.”
I don’t mind. I love the idea of marshmallow bullies who run the streets with iron fists.
There’s a hierarchy in this kingdom, and it has everything to do with size. If only they used their powers for good instead of evil.
I don’t like your font choice, Giant Evil Mallow. It’s too goofy. It’s Comic Sansy. Your jabs would be more effective in a deadpan font. Maybe something in the Tahoma family?