Look, let’s just all admit it: the 1990s were the best decade for celebrating Halloween, and that is just an indisputable, universal truth.
In an age without digital media or cell phones (or lists like this one), kids were free to celebrate the Halloween season in all of its cheesy, low-tech glory. From Halloween specials that you recorded on a VHS, to crappy, plastic seasonal Happy Meal toys, the ’90s allowed this spooky holiday to do what it does best: reminding us that candy is the most important commodity, and that buying into commercially-produced ambience is actually kind of fun.
Here are just a few aspects of retro Halloweens of yore that will hit you right in the ’90s:
1. Carrying candy in your McDonald’s Halloween Bucket
Look, I’m not saying outright that this was the single most brilliant marketing ploy of the last thirty years … but if McDonald’s brought these back, they would make a killing. Just saying. Halloween in the ’90s was not complete without one of these bad boys to dutifully hold your sugar-laden treasure.
2. … Or, if you were more basic, your plastic pumpkin.
You wanted the McDonald’s version, but chances are that you had one of these reliable, if uninspiring, pumpkins lying around as a last resort.
3. Dressing up your McDonald’s McNuggets toys in their Halloween costumes.
These were awesome, until you gradually misplaced all of the costume pieces and were just left with plastic chicken nuggets … which only served as a reminder that you would rather have REAL chicken nuggets.
4. Hoping that at least one house would hand out Warheads.
In the hierarchy of candy coolness, Warheads ranked right at the top. They were both torturous and delightful, and one of the few confection rarities in the annual Trick-Or-Treat deluge.
5. Having nightmares about the Crypt Keeper.
Chances are, you didn’t actually watch Tales From The Crypt (and if you did, GOOD FOR YOU, WE’RE ALL VERY IMPRESSED). However, you were probably familiar with the Crypt Keeper’s rotting visage, and his face probably haunted your dreams.
6. Feeling sexually confused about Elvira.
Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, you probably gazed upon Elvira’s cleavage and thought “I have no idea what I’m feeling right now, but it’s probably dirty.”
7. Pretending MC Hammer’s “Addams Groove” was actually good.
Pro tip: it was not good.
8. Reading the Goosebumps series.
The cover art alone was enough to keep you up at night.
9. Or, if Goosebumps freaked you out, reading a Baby-Sitters Club Mystery.
Because some of us just wanted tasteful, non-horrifying Halloween literature, okay?!
10. Trying not to be freaked out by older kids wearing “Ghostface” masks.
I’m not sure what the teen preference for scary masks was before Scream came out in 1996 — but I know the entirety of Halloween youth culture has never looked back.
11. Bingeing on all the Halloween episodes of your favorite shows.
Remember when we weren’t embroiled in “Peak TV,” and television shows were still formulaic enough to have Halloween episodes? Those were the good ol’ days.
12. Watching Hocus Pocus.
It isn’t Halloween until you’ve seen a witchy Bette Midler sing “I Put A Spell On You.”
13. Watching Halloweentown after you finished Hocus Pocus.
I honestly don’t remember if these movie was even good, because I was too busy watching Hocus Pocus.
14. Breaking out your family’s sweet Pumpkin Masters Carving Kit.
Did these kits actually help you to create artistic Jack-O’-Lanterns? No. But they gave you a sense of false hope, which is really the most important thing.
15. Halloween Beanie Babies!!!
Still bitter about the ZERO DOLLARS I made off of these on eBay.
16. These terrible makeup kits.
They smelled bad, and they didn’t really work. Not everything was better in the ’90s, guys.
17. Feeling weirdly attracted to Casper.
How was this bulbous-headed specter so attractive in real life? What kind of paranormal fetish are you sneaking into my family movie, Universal Pictures??