We at Lunch Meat HQ are unabashedly enthusiastic about Halloween.
(Okay, maybe not all of us. Maybe it’s just me. But when I’m writing this thing, I have to use the royal “we.”)
Everything about this holiday is fun. The campy horror movies, the decorations, the costumes, the parties, the cereals!
You might think it’s weird to have Halloween-themed cereal, only available in October. After all, one might reason, there aren’t special Christmas cereals. You don’t get “Cupid Crunch” around Valentine’s Day, complete with marshmallow hearts. One could make an argument for Lucky Charms, except you can buy those year-round.
But actually, there’s a longstanding connection between food and fright.
Everyone’s Doing It
Burger King got a lot of attention (not really the good kind) for its “King mascot” campaign (2003-2011). What made it worse was the way they decided to embrace the creepiness inherent in a giant, smirking plastic head. Maybe they thought consumers would find the shenanigans endearing, even cute. Or maybe they had a more sinister motive.
In 2004, Quiznos Subs ran commercials based on an Internet meme. On paper, this is a pretty good idea, what with the built-in recognition and topicality. It’s a meme – it’s already viral! Unfortunately, the meme they picked was the Spongmonkeys. Enough said.
Those examples are fairly recent, but this has been going on for a while, and there’s no better (worse?) example than McDonald’s.
Whether you suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) or not, McDonald’s mascots have always been a little…off. The company spent decades trying to make their characters more kid-friendly, but ultimately retired most of them. Let’s look at where these guys started out.
"I’m not getting inside his mouth, Mom."
Original Grimace had four arms and waddled into the nightmares of a generation.
Gaze into the eyes of madness. Also: Cheese fangs.
We like to imagine that the Hamburglar swingset inspired Tim Burton.
And let’s just ignore the existential quandary of a world with walking, talking food.
If you think the most famous McDonald’s spokescritter was an exception to all of this, we’ve got bad news for you.
A surprising number of people have written about this phenomenon, and most assume that these monstrosities are the result of “different times,” or clueless executives.
We think the truth is much simpler: They’re trying to make us eat more, by scaring the crap out of us.