80s, 90s, Cartoons, Commercials, Food, Quick Lists — October 14, 2013 1:53 pm

6 Ways McDonalds Got Us Excited for Halloween

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Like most holidays, Halloween is heavily commercialized. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing because it helps set up traditions and let’s get real for a moment—holiday crap is neat! Each year, McDonald’s gets into the Halloween spirit (hah!)—and here are six ways they make us love Halloween.

6 – Spooky Commercials

Ahhhwooooooo! Spooky stuff, eh kids? Oh, sorry, I channeled my inner Count Floyd there for a minute…
The best way to get kids to annoy their parents into a trip to McDonalds is to go through their favorite venues—TV commercials. Before the Internet, TV commercials told us what was cool, what was hip, what we absolutely must have right now. McDonald’s did well in that sense—I really wanted a vampire McNugget! Even when they weren’t pushing their Halloween-themed Happy Meals and other specials, McDonald’s found some way to get a little spooky fun into their advertising campaigns.

5 – Halloween Pails

That’s going to hold a whole lot of coupons…

Instead of the regular cardboard containers that housed Happy Meals, around Halloween, McDonalds uses plastic buckets. These aren’t just any buckets—they’re Halloween-themed and ready to house your candy! They aren’t super big though, so it’s still a good idea to go out with a pillowcase. When the pails were introduced in 1986, they started off with three orange Jack O’Lantern styles, evolving later to include a McWitch and a McGhost. The pails disappeared for nine years, but made a comeback in 2010, so you can get your Happy Meal and Trick-or-Treat, too!

4 – Coupon Booklets

Trick-or-Treaters have been subjected to various unsavoury treats, whether it be coupons for bowling alleys, pennies, or apples from that one weird guy at the end of the street. One of the most famous non-candy/non-chip/non-soda “treat” we got as kids were the McDonald’s coupon booklets. I’m sure the deals were great, but at eight years-old, it’s not like you were ponying up the cash for your fries anyway.

3 – Halloween Happy Meal Toys

Finally, chicken nuggets dressed in Halloween garb!

That’s right, in addition to having a Halloween-themed container that could easily serve as the toy portion of your balanced Happy Meal, McDonald’s also put together a few spooky toy lines for your enjoyment. Like Chicken McNuggets but wish they looked more like Frankenstein’s Monster? McDonald’s had that covered. Want to dress Birdie and Grimace up in costume? Consider it done. Need some spooky background noise and those Big Lots tapes just aren’t cutting it? You know McDonald’s got your back, dawg!

2 – Scared Silly Video

You probably don’t want to watch it. I’m sorry for linking it.
As part of a video series called The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, McDonald’s released a direct-to-video featured called Scared Silly in 1998. This was apparently when Nickelodeon cartoons were wildly popular, judging from the animation style. The plot follows a pretty cliché path—campers must spend night in old house, old house appears to be haunted, old house overrun by bratty kid playing jokes.

1 – Pumpkin “Treats”

Tasty! …if you don’t hate pumpkin-flavored stuff!

Perhaps Pumpkin Treats are synonymous with Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, but McDonalds has been getting in on the fall season pumpkin craze for years now. Their Pumpkin Pie has been available for years and comes as a nice alternative to Apple Pie. Recently, McDonald’s rolled out the McCafe Pumpkin Shake and to keep up with Starbucks, they even test marketed a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

What’s your favorite McDonald’s Halloween-related treat? Leave us a comment below!


  • Love this post and it so true! What happened anyway? McD’s used to make things fun and now they are boring as hell. The McBoo pails are not tied into some show or theme and they dont even really bother with cool toys like the McNuggets people anymore.
    Kids today got it rough.

  • McD’s used to be fun. Not anymore. The pails this year are just sad.

  • What happened to McDonalds is lawsuits against them for advertising and appealing to children. The lawsuits claimed to find McD’s guilty of getting kids fat by appealing to them with characters, playlands and fun. Nevermind the parents who take their children to fast food joints every chance they get instead of having a nice home-cooked meal. We stupidly don’t blame them.
    U.S. citizens are sue-happy and it’s really ruining a lot of our culture. I doubt the lawsuits have helped change much aside from making McD’s into an unhappy, faux-chic coffeehouse front, peddling fast food on the side and still not offering healthy choices despite the fact.
    I miss the old days when we could have happy-faced McDonaldland characters, Playlands and Happy Meals with awesome, creative toys. Instead now we get commercials featuring some goofy hipster child and his goat that supposedly eat right at McDonald’s. What that has to do with fast food I have no idea, but it sucks.

  • Side note, now that my ranting self has stopped, I LOVE LOVE LOVED these toys and keep hoping they’ll bring them back, much like other cool original Happy Meal offerings. I can’t help but think that those days are long past, though.

  • MisterZero Yes, yes, and yes.

  • I totally forgot about getting McDonald’s coupons stuffed in my trick or
    treat pillow sack as a kid until now. Holy flashback. I never liked it.
    I didn’t get to go to McDonalds as a kid (there wasn’t one in town) so
    they were a total loss.  And those singing McNuggets, always getting into hijinks. Thanks for sharing!

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