Monday, September 26, 2016

Crazy Halloween Junk Food

I'll have to admit, September has pretty much been a blur. Between work kicking my butt and being busy nearly every weekend, I had precious little time to write. Fear not though, since it's now officially fall it's really time to embrace the season ... and by embrace the season I mean gorge myself on Halloween junk food. These items have no relationship to each other whatsoever other than the fact that I couldn't get enough out of them for a full fledged article.

Hostess Scary Cakes

Yes! These are back for another year. Sure, they're just the basic Hostess cupcake any other time of the year, but not in the fall. In the fall, they are "Scary Cakes" with S'cream filling. If these aren't a sign that the Halloween season is in full force then I don't know what is. The box design this year is great with a spooky design that just grabs you. The icing on the cupcake has that standard Hostess squiggle design but the frosting is orange! Name another time of year you'll find a cupcake with orange icing! Now, if you've had a Hostess cupcake before, you know what this tastes like, however I think it has just a little bit better flavor and taste because it has a Halloween style. Put some of these out along with a cold glass of cider for the Great Pumpkin when he comes and your Halloween will be that much better.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

I've always looked at Pepperidge Farm stuff from afar, it being more expensive than your normal Chips Ahoy or Oreo cookie pack. I've gotten a few of their products before and haven't been too terribly impressed which is mostly the reason I stray away from them (the other being cost). These were one of the first "fall" products I saw in the stores, so I grabbed it. The package design is very bright as has a design of falling leaves on the top. Opening these, I couldn't discern any particular smell so I just hoped they wouldn't be horrible. Well, they weren't horrible, but they weren't great either. The chunks you see picture in the cookie on the package are cheesecake flavored chunks. The cookie itself had a slight sort of gingerbread-y flavor to it. I can't say I can recommend these but you could do a whole lot worse.

Count Chocula Cereal Bars

Speaking of doing a whole lot worse, I found these on a display at the grocery store lumped in with all the Halloween cereals (side note: review of the cereals coming soon) and though they looked interesting. The box has a very cartoonish  vibe to it, probably to appeal to kids or fans of the Count Chocula cereal. I had the cereal itself before I had this so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Well, everything I expected went right out the window when I bit into it. It's got a very processed and marshmallow heavy taste and has the consistency of cardboard. The chocolate looks and tastes incredibly fake and it's very heavy on the artificial sweetener. I tried to offer part of the bar to my 3-year old son and he promptly screamed and ran away. Even if kids are running from this, that should tell you something.

Hi-C Ecto Cooler

This was all the rage back in the summertime when the new Ghostbusters movie came out in July. People were looking high and low and grocery retailers big and small just so they could get a nostalgic taste of their childhood. I didn't find any in my area until mid-August, just before the movie left theaters. That didn't stop me though, I grabbed a bunch of the 10-box packs. It tastes just like I remember it, very citrusy with orange and tangerine. You better believe that when I found more of these at the store, I loaded up. There's no telling if this is back for good or if stores are just going through what stock they have left. One thing is for sure though, this is the perfect drink to have on a fall night when you're staying up late to watch a Pumpkinhead marathon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Most Amazing Halloween Aisle Ever

This caused quite the stir on my Twitter page over the weekend. Of all the retail establishments I've been to so far this season, this one aisle at my local grocery store is by far the absolute best of all of them. As I said on Twitter, this aisle take me right back to a 1992, perhaps somewhere in a corner drug store. This particular grocery store looks like it hasn't been updated since then either, with outdated lettering atop all the different departments and old tile floors that seem to be the original floor. This was the only good picture I could get as the store was busy and I had to take this somewhat sneakily so the guy at the meat counter wouldn't give me a suspicious look. Anyway, let's take a look at some of the highlights of this ...

This is one of the best M&M displays I've ever seen with Red dressed as a vampire and surrounded by mountains and mountains of M&Ms. I would wager a guess that when the store is closed he swims in these bags like Scrooge McDuck swims in money. I mean, just look at the mounds and mounds of candy that surrounds him, wouldn't you be in heaven too? Also, not to be forgotten in this shot are the giant cauldrons, presumably to be used for some sort of witchcraft shenanigans or to be used as a Halloween candy bowl. The possibilities are endless!

Towards the back of the display, we have a scarecrow and a crazy tree sprouting all sorts of candy. The scarecrow is your typical cutesy fall fare for those who want to play it straight. That's not really my style. I like the crazy Halloween candy tree. Also, if you look very closely in the back you can see  part of an old school circular department store rack covered with costumes. Very 1980s-ish.

These look like they're supposed to be ghosts. I'm down with that. What is the white stuff they put on them, was it paint of some sort? This looks like a crazy high school arts and crafts project and I can so dig that.

It's the trick or treat monster and he's coming to steal all your candy! Not really, but this sign is really, really cool. The monster kind of that that reaction like Tweek on South Park does, like he's perpetually petrified. Also, what is that coming out of his left side? Is it a bolt? An arm?

You can't have a retail Halloween display without and inflatable graveyard scene that nearly touches the ceiling.

There are more inflatables and a lamp post that I very nearly bought as it was listed at 20% off the sticker price. Also, any store that has so much Halloween candy that they have to sort it into big bags and monster bags, is tops in my book.

The thing that makes it for me is while this aisle may look clean, it's also meant to be messy, which brings me back to my drug store analogy as all drug store Halloween aisles were always a bit unkempt. This one aisle takes everything that is awesome about the Halloween season and packages it neatly in one semi-neat ball that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Thank you grocery story Halloween aisle. Thank you for being you.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Homecoming Parade

A sure sign that fall is upon the little town where I live is the return of high school football, with the biggest game of the year being the annual Homecoming game. I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, especially in big cities, but every year there is a huge parade down the main road out to the high school which is just outside the city limits. Hundreds of people come from everywhere in town and all the smaller surrounding villages and set up shop along the road, with some even tailgating, in preparation of the parade.

I personally didn't have to do any of that. All I had to do, along with my son and my wife, was to walk down a few feet to the corner and take in the parade. Living just off the main road in town definitely has its advantages sometimes. Anyway, the parade set off from the city park around 6:00 and reached my street roughly a half hour later. We could tell it was getting close as traffic has ceased and the faint sound of snare drums inched towards us. Then it came, marching steadily westward up the hill, past the IGA market, and through a small batch of trees and arrived with great fanfare. I was ready to document its arrival with my camera (aka iPhone) in hand.

As you can tell by these photos, this was the marching band and color guard. I considered trying out for the band once in middle school, but seeing as you had to pay for the instrument and the fact that I was (and still am) horrible at making music of any sort, I passed on it. My favorite shot here is the one I took from behind after the color guard had marched past. 

These are the floats made my each class. I'm not sure what the theme was and was confused as one of them said "Seven Mile High" on the back of it. The problem is that there is no Seven Mile High School, everyone from Seven Mile goes to Edgewood. Logistical deficiencies aside, the only float that made any sense to me is the one that says "Let the Knights Fall" as that's who we were playing in the game, the Northwest Knights

Nearly every high school sport was represented in the parade, from ladies volleyball and ladies golf, to the cross country team and football and cheerleading squads from varsity all the way down to the K-1 team.

Along with Trenton, every fire department and rescue squad in the school district was represented as well, including the rural ones from local townships.

Of course local businesses have to get involved too. Lake Bailee is a recreational park and gun range that hosts an annual haunted hayride. I've never gone to it as there is one in Springboro that is really good, but maybe one year I'll go down to check this one out

This photo should give you an idea of how long the parade was. Past the fire engines in the photo, it was just simply local businesses in cars. Not long after this we headed back home as my son was staring to get bored and it was nearly time to get settled in for the evening as I had work the next morning.

One last shot, this time of my son watching the parade.

The next day was the actual homecoming game itself, which Edgewood soundly won over Northwest 42-14. It's always a good day when the football team wins the homecoming game and it's even better when the whole area comes together to enjoy a community event like this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Contest Reminder!

Just a friendly reminder while I'm working on the next post for Project Halloween that I currently have a Halloween contest where you build your own Halloween display and show it off on your blog. In case you need a refresher, here are the entry details:

1. Create a Halloween display. It can be made of anything you want ... candles, figures, lights, posters, movies, candy, etc just as long as its something that reminds you to enjoy and embrace the fall and Halloween season.

2. Write a blog post about your display and leave a comment on the original post ( with a link to your post.

3. Entries are due by 11:59 PM October 21st. The entries will then be randomized 13 times and the winner, which will be announced on Halloween itself, will get a bubble mailer full of cards for his/her collection (since this is a sports card blog by day of course).

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's entries!

Obligatory card:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Five Cheap Trick Or Treat Bags

I'll come right out and say it, these bags are really cool, even cooler considering they were nearly a steal at 20 cents each. Yes, you read that right, they were 20 cents each from the local grocery store. Cheap Halloween goods like this were what the original Halloween videos my friends and I did were based upon (side note: those will be posted up come October) so this will be like going back to my roots as I review these. Quick aside, there were actually six different designs to choose from, however the sixth one contained a giant spider on the front of the bag. Since I want nothing to do with spiders in any form, be it cartoonish or otherwise, I opted to leave that one at the store.

Bag #1 - Jack O'Lantern: Here's the first bag, pretty simple if you ask me. Just nothing more than a jack-o-latern pattern with a generic orange background and a black bottom. These bags have the same feel and are about the same size of a small popcorn bag that you would pay about six dollars for at the movie theater with no refills. To be honest, there's not much else here to talk about aside from this bag serving as a good model to use when carving your pumpkin this fall.

Bag #2 - Haunted House: Someone really put some effort into this one. On the front alone, you've got a mummy, a giant jack-o-lantern, a ghost, a super creepy mansion, a dark sky, the outline of a creepy old tree and presumably bats flying above the mansion. Now if just looking at this bag doesn't get you in the Halloween spirit, I don't know what will. After I took the picture, I noticed the side of the bag has pumpkins running all along the side of it. I definitely give this one a top score for creativity.

Bag #3 - Happy Monsters: I have no idea on if "Happy Monsters" is the official title of this design or not, I'm simply calling it that because these creatures seem incredibly thrilled to be plastered on the front of this bag. It's just got this fun, happy, Monsters Inc. feel to it and I'm sure any elementary school kid would be proud to carry this around during trick or treat.

Bag #4: Party Favors: Need some cheap, generic Halloween party wallpaper or something funky to decorate your work cube with? Then go grab yourself some of these! This one definitely gives a vibe of a Halloween party with jack-o-lanterns, evil looking suckers, tiny bats, and generic candy in the form of Tootsie Pops. I'd say this one is probably my second favorite behind the haunted house bag.

Bag #5: Squiggles: Here's the last bag, a simple Happy Halloween graphic centered on top of some black, white, and orange squiggles. While not exactly the most inspiring design, it definitely has more character than it's cousin, the plain orange jack-o-latern bag we started things off with. Heck, even the pumpkin looks thrilled to be part of the proceedings.

Overall, I'd say for 20 cents a piece, you definitely can't go wrong here. I'm hoping I can find some other cheap goods to pick up during the season as these were great!

Friday, September 9, 2016

The 2016 Halloween Mood Display (and a Halloween Contest!)

It's that time again! It's time for the reveal of the annual Halloween Mood Display!

A bit of backstory first ... I started doing this in 2014 when my Halloween spirit was really low. Why it was so low that year, I'm not sure. So I took a spare table and got inspired by the Halloween mood tables that Matt from Dinosaur Dracula does every year and created my Halloween mood table. Needless to say, that was an instant spirit lifter. Last year, I wanted to do another table but seeing as my son likes to get into things within his reach, I opted to use a ledge on an archway between my living room and kitchen and it turned out pretty well.

This year, I decided to use the same ledge for the display ...

Here's a before picture, a blank canvas, ripe to be built on with some crazy Halloween decor

And afterward ....

Behold, the 2016 Halloween Mood Display! Let's take a tour ....

A must for any Halloween display is activities. My blu-ray box set of the Halloween series is a must and I grabbed a few other movies as well. Even though it's hard to see, the other films are Friday the 13th, Signs, and Evil Dead 2. This is also the Ghostbusters portion of the program with the Slimer figure I bought at Horrorhound earlier this year, Winston hanging out in Ecto-1, and Ray looking from afar.

A closer look at Winston chilling in the car and sharing a word with Jason Voorhees.

Here's the centerpiece as I described previously, the Spookytown Gas N Ghoul. I went back to Michaels and grabbed a few accent pieces that were 40% off. I think the orange trees and the road sign give it an extra creepy feel. I'll admit, I'd be a little freaked out if I rolled up to this place in the middle of the night.

The land of horror icon Funko figures. Returning from last year is Billy from Saw, Ash from Evil Dead, and Michael Myers. New this year to the gathering is Freddy Krueger and the Mummy.

Finally, a Trick or Treat flavored candle, which really candy corn and butter cream, from Yankee Candle and my wife's melted wax warmer which she has loaded fall flavors into.

After building this, I definitely feel the Halloween spirit more than ever, and so will my living room as it will be covered in the glow of candy corn lights from now until I take this sucker down in November. I would definitely encourage you to take an afternoon and make one of these for yourself, even if it's not as big as this.  Speaking of which, I think I'll run a little contest for this ...

To enter, simply build a Halloween Mood Display of your own and write a blog post about it, similar to what I did here talking about the things you included, maybe even how it helps you get in the Halloween spirit. Leave a link to the post in the comments below. As a reminder, your building it for no one but you. It just needs to be something that reminds you to embrace the Halloween spirit and enjoy the season. Since this is a baseball card blog by heart, your prize will be a bubble mailer of cards from your favorite MLB team.

If you need some tips on how to build one, check out my mood display from last year here and also feel free to check out past mood tables of the person who started this whole thing, Matt of Dinosaur Dracula, here, here, here, and here.

This contest will be open from now until October 21st. Those who entered will be tossed into a randomizer that will be randomized a lucky 13 times and the winner will be announced on Halloween itself.

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Michaels Spooky Town Gas N' Ghoul

Holy crap!

It's not often that I make a visit to Michaels as I'm not exactly an arts and crafts type person. However, when I heard they were early to the Halloween party, I knew I had to make a quick stop in. I walked in expecting lots of arts and crafts type stuff but I expected NOTHING like this! Like a Christmas village gone awry, this was a crazy Halloween village that attracted me like a moth to a flame. And wait, what? Everything featured in the display is 30% off? To quote wrestling announcer Joey Styles "Oh my God!"

This haunted town was made up of literally everything you could think of, haunted belfrys, a trick or treat house, a crazy costume shop, and a ZOMBIE CAROUSEL!! I wanted literally everything on the display but I had to control myself as my budget only allowed me to consider certain things. As much as I loved the zombie carousel, I couldn't justify blowing my whole entire Halloween budget on one item, so I carefully scanned the display and came across two really cool pieces ... a trick or treat house (which was basically a standard house decorated with all kinds of Halloween craziness) and a ghostly gas station complete with zombie attendant. In the end, the only one they had in stock was the gas station so obviously I had to get it, complete with the great price tag of 30% off.

Behold the Spookytown Gas N' Ghoul. After looking at the pieces that were in my budget, this was the one that spoke to me and it was the last one they had in stock at the time and yes, as I mentioned, it was 30% off the price tag. There's so much going on here so lets bust into the box to check it out.

Here it is in all it's out of the box glory. The detail is downright remarkable, right to the facial features on the two figures and the design of the car. There's even an attachable wind vane that goes on top. The only real minor flaw in the packaging was that the electrical cord was literally hidden. It was hidden so well that I thought it was missing and called the store to confirm. They said that there was a little pocket in the styrofoam where the plug was. I found it and it was not clearly labeled at all. 

Now some closeups ...

Here's the proprietor of the Gas N Ghoul, one Barry D. Hatchet (I just made that up by the way). Old Mr. Hatchet has been running this gas station since cars were invented one could assume, and as you can see, to get in the Halloween spirit, he's put jack-o-laterns on top of the pumps. He knows the reason that Spooky Town became so spooky, but if he told you, he'd have to kill you.

Here's the poor sap, John Howard (another made up name), pulling in to refuel. Something tells me that he made a wrong turn somewhere.

This doesn't look promising. It sort of reminds me of the time I went camping with a friend of mine and his dad on the old man's property in the middle of nowhere. The only lavatory was an outhouse that probably hadn't been used in five years and apparently had a tarantula living in the bottom of the toilet. I didn't care to find out if that was true or not.

I must say, this was about $40 well spent. This thing will definitely be the centerpiece of the Halloween mood display this year! Speaking of the mood display, check back this weekend for the unveiling!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pecan Pie and White Boo-tterscotch M&Ms

Oh, M&Ms, you never cease to amaze me with the crazy seasonal flavors you come out with. Last year, it was Pumpkin Spice Latte and Candy Corn flavors, this year its Pecan Pie and White Boo-tterscotch flavors. The concept is good, but let's see if they really work.

White Boo-tterscotch

I heard about these via some of the foodie websites my wife frequents and to be honest, I was pretty excited. My favorite dessert at Thanksgiving is the butterscotch pie that my aunt makes so when I heard about these, I knew I had to make a beeline to the nearest Target. These were positioned right in the middle of the main aisle with a bunch of other standard M&M flavors like peanut and peanut butter in the requisite fall packaging as was just about the only Halloween related thing Target had out. I like the package with Red getting all scared and ghosts abundant all around

Here's what they look like out of the package. Three different colors, brown, white and tan. I tried one of each color and then all three colors together. The inside is white as it states on the package and the butterscotch flavor is pretty strong but captures the flavor perfectly. They're also pretty sweet and after just having the small amount in the bowl, I feel like I could run about 10 laps around the block. If you're a fan of butterscotch flavored stuff, then these are definitely worth a try.

Pecan Pie

The other offering from M&Ms this fall ... Pecan Pie. I've never really been a big fan of pecan pie as pecans covered in gobs of karo syrup never really looked all that appealing to me. The packaging on this is very enticing with Green sitting on some haystacks offering up a big slice of pecan pie topped with whipped cream. Hopefully these will live up to the lofty packaging standards in terms of taste.

Again, here's what they look like out of the package. They're a bit darker than the butterscotch. As for how they taste, they're a bit underwhelming honestly. I was expecting a blow away flavor of pecan pie like I had with the butterscotch ones but there wasn't any of that. These tasted exactly like regular M&Ms with the slightest hint of pecan in the aftertaste. Not exactly my favorites so these will be pawned off on others. 

I'd definitely get the butterscotch ones again but the pecan pie ones I'll pass on. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Project Halloween Begins .... NOW!!

Welcome to Project Halloween 2016!

Let's do this.

Project Halloween is born out of a love of the fall and Halloween season that I discovered about ten years ago. Back in 2007, a few friends and I came up with the idea to do a video reviewing Halloween candy, decorations, and the like and put it online the Friday before Halloween. While we were doing that, I was the main person going out to stores getting goofy candies, rubber masks, cheap props, etc that we could all review and talk about during the special. During that time, I discovered a love for the holiday and the season that I never knew I had. Those specials continued yearly and eventually made it onto YouTube until our last one in 2014. There wasn't one last year as everyone's schedules made it incredibly difficult to get together and film.

I know most, if not all, of you come here for the trading card content. Between now and November, that will be on the back burner in favor of Project Halloween. Come November, once we're all suffering from a Halloween hangover and I've blown through at least 100 cans of Mountain Dew and untold boxes of pumpkin flavored junk food, cards will be back in full force. Trading cards are around and available all year, while fall and Halloween only comes around once, so why not embrace it while I can. It is my favorite time of year after all.

So what is in store for Project Halloween? Anything and everything! The "Hallo-Switch" is in full effect where stores have started clearing out their beach chairs, grills, and school supplies and are replacing them with masks, candy, plastic weaponry, shrunken heads, costumes, etc. That, along with the amount of seasonal food already available (and judging by what's out there, it's going to be a very heavy year on the pumpkin spice), should make for a fun Halloween season. I can't guarantee a new post every day but there will be plenty to go around, don't worry.

Besides the Halloween standards like candy and decor, there will be all kinds of other stuff ... fall festivals, farm markets, horror films, trick-or-treat night, seasonal beers, and lots of other random junk that I'm sure hasn't even shown up yet but probably will between now and October 31st. Oh yeah, the blog got a little Halloween makeover just to make sure the spooky season is done right.

Since this is a kick-off to Halloween and in order to get you into the Halloween spirit there are a number of things you could do right now, but the biggest one of all is to get out and do some shopping! Call it a Halloween treasure hunt if you will. Sure most stores may not have a full-fledged display out yet but if you just look at little closer or go out of your way to look, you never know what you might find. Now is the time where each evening walk, each trip to the store, and a million, trillion mundane, routine items we do on a daily basis are now all out adventures and I encourage you to take advantage of it.

So come on in, boys and girls, sit down, and stay for a while, there's nothing to be scared of. My only hope is that you have as much fun reading my two month ode to this time of year as I do writing it. If it helps you embrace and rediscover the best time of the year, then I've done my job and far as making it fun. I hope you as readers enjoy it and I encourage you to leave comments and spread the word if you do.

For the next two months, we're going to go crazy folks. Enjoy it, savor it, make it your own. Halloween only comes around once a year, it's our duty to do it right. Now, do yourself a favor and kick back with some popcorn, your favorite drink, and Friday the 13th: Part 3.

We're gonna party until we're dead.