There are some things that just never change. Halloween isn’t one of them. Through the years, the night of spooky terror has undergone a few changes and depending on how many of them you have witnessed, some of the things may seem oddly familiar, some of them downright terrifying. We have for your enjoyment this year Halloween stories and novelties that were popular by decade.
During the 40’s began the tradition all our sugar craved children have come to expect. Receiving candy for literally doing nothing but showing up. It used to be that treats, fruits and coins were exchanged during Halloween, but usually a song was required. Clowns and cowboys were all the rage and bobbing for apples was still a favorite at the parties.
By the 50’s most of the vandalism and tomfoolery was kept to a minimum and Halloween was becoming more of a family tradition. It was in the 50’s that candy companies began to produce what we have come to know as “Halloween Candy”. It was during this decade that “trick or treat” bag became available and could be purchased for a few pennies at the grocery store. Children would cart their loot carrying bags and pick up Bazooka Joe, Tootsie Pops and Baby Ruths.
What didn’t change during the 60’s? Halloween was no exception, the Adams Family took to the airwaves, masks adorned by children were made from plastic and Bobby Pickett and the Crypt-Keepers released the Billboard hit “Monster Mash”. The candy didn’t change much, but the celebration was much more geared to children as Disney opened up its first ever Haunted Mansion inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
If Halloween was about anything in the 70’s, it was about the candy. Sugary delights like Laffy Taffy, Bubble Yum, Jelly Belly, Twix and the first Ring Pop were to be had. Reece’s Peanut Buttercups became so popular in the 70’s that the Hersey Food Corporation had to double its production! But it wasn’t just all for the kids. In the 70’s movies like The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out and terrified audiences both then and still today. And who could forget how difficult it was to get a Star Wars costume in the late 70’s. They sold out so quickly that it has been labeled “The Great Star Wars Halloween Costume Shortage.”
The 80’s saw us take Halloween to a whole new level. If candy was the game changer of the 70’s, the 80’s were all about the cinematic experience. Movies like The Shining, The Poltergeist, and Nightmare on Elm Street all came out in the 80’s. And who could forget the red leather clad Michael Jackson producing one of the most groundbreaking songs and music videos with Thriller. It was in the 80’s that Halloween parades became popular, and the popular Trick-or-Treat for Unicef raised over $2 million in one year. The most popular mask in the 80’s was the plastic Ronald Regan mask which soared to popularity after he was elected in 1981.
If you were a kid in the 90’s and went to McDonald’s, which was every kid in the 90’s, you witnessed the era of the plastic pumpkin pails from McDonalds. Everyone had to have one. These buckets were named McWitch and McGhost. The buckets went through changes through the 90’s including a glow-in-the-dark edition. There was a return to home-made costumes with people leaving their plastic masks on the shelf for the season. Unfortunately these efforts were used to create the most Brittney Spears look-a-likes to be seen in one place at any time. People also had a new source for decoration, party and costumes; the internet began to be widely used in the 90’s to share and post great ideas.
Halloween costume ideas got a big bump in 2001 with the release of the first Harry Potter film. This costume frenzy was only to be rivalled by yet another run on the Star Wars merchandise as Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was released. But even both of these costume juggernaughts were overtaken in the late 2000’s by politics. The Obama, McCain and Palin masks became the thing to wear to your party. Not all Halloween events were man made either. In 2003 there were fantastic solar storms all over the world known as “Halloween Storms of 2003” where skies were lit up in red and green colors.
Although the decade is not through yet, there has been a few additions to the tradition of Halloween during the last 9 years. The 2010’s saw the sharpest uptick in pets getting in on the Halloween fun with sales for pet costumes increasing 60% since the previous decade. Almost 70% of the candy consumed on Halloween is some form of chocolate, with the familiar Reece’s still leading the pack.
No matter how you choose to celebrate this year, please be safe and have fun. Every year is filled with great new stories, amazing new costumes and plenty of screams…of laughter I hope. This year when you answer your door, remember the costumes you used to adorn and the fun that was shared with friends and family. And if you need to brush up on Halloween safety, click the link below and see a safety video produced in the 80’s complete with an animated talking pumpkin.