Halloween 2022: Oct. 19ᵗʰ – McDonald’s Halloween Pails!

I know I’m posting this out of order. I’ll post the missing days, I promise. But right now I’m just too excited! I got my Halloween pails today! I’m lovin’ it!

Back in 1986, McDonald’s brought the world what is, in my opinion, the best fast food Halloween giveaway ever conceived: the original pumpkin Halloween pails. I can’t tell you why these hit the way they did… or the way they still do. It’s hard to say why they are as beloved as they are. On paper, we never should have cared about these things. We ’80s kids were graced by the gods of childhood with the coolest variety of toys ever made on this planet, and these were fucking plastic buckets. But we went positively insane over them. Thirty-six years later, and we are still so obsessed that fifty year old “adults” are filling Facebook with tips on which of their local McDonald’ses have which pails, so their friends, family, coworkers, frenemies, side pieces, and spawn can collect all three. And I should know, because I’m one of them.

I still have my original McBoo. I keep things in him that are meaningful but have no other proper place. They have nowhere to belong, so eventually they belong to McBoo. Through our teens and twenties, when our sparkling baubles of youthful individuality are slowly eroded by the tides of bland, adult sameness, most of us shed the trinkets with which we defined ourselves as children. Despite my feeling that I, quite luckily, fell victim to that subtraction at a somewhat lesser degree than most, I was no different. Things got lost. Left behind. Forgotten. But not McBoo. His lid became brittle and was shattered a long time ago, but my McBoo bucket is still holding strong. Like the nostalgia they engender, these beautiful bastards were made to last.

The 2022 versions are different, as is to be expected, but are named after the OG Halloween pails. The names don’t exactly make sense. McGoblin is clearly a witch, not a goblin. In fact, the original green witch pail was named McWitch. And McPunk’n’s face is clearly modeled after the original McGoblin face. The new McBoo is a remake of McGhost, which used to be made of glorious glow-in-the-dark plastic. Now it’s just white. Typical. I hate it when Halloween gets gentrified.

I hear a lot of people complaining about the lack of lids. Yeah, that kind of sucks, but Jesus Christ, people. Two years ago we were in the middle of a worldwide plague, while a legit sexual predator with, at best, an eighth grade vocabulary and remedial reading comprehension was sitting in the White House installing fundamentalist, gun-cult psychos bent on dismantling our government and turning our country into redneck Afghanistan. We’re lucky we still have running water, let alone Halloween pails. Get some perspective.

Instead of plastic lids we got round paper inserts that kind of function as lids. Super shitty, barely fitting, useless, pointless lids. But instead of just being plain paper, McDonald’s stepped up and made them sticker sheets. So that’s something. I guess.

On the back of the sticker sheets are skeleton illustrations. You’re supposed to put the stickers on the skeletons, like Halloween costumes. Well, who the hell is going to do that? If you have kids, these stickers are absolutely going on every surface in your house except those skeletons. As they should. Stickers are for teaching parents lessons, not covering up skeletons. Have the McDonald’s people never seen a Halloween decoration? Skeletons are supposed to be naked.

I can’t remember if some version of the original pails had multiple faces, but each of these have three. Here are the happy faces.

And here are the scared/distressed faces. Except for McGoblin. She’s just slightly less happy.

And these faces are just extra. McGoblin is giving an unnecessarily suggestive wink, McBoo is suffering from the early stages of Bell’s palsy, and McPunk’n is about to do some evil shit.

I love these, but McDonald’s seems less interested in helping you celebrating Halloween and more keen to make you run as much gasoline through your engine as possible. Any given McDonald’s franchise only gets ONE type of pail at a time, which means you have to visit a minimum of three to get them all. And that’s if you’re exceptionally lucky. I visited every McDonald’s in northern Kentucky to find these things. I did nothing but go to McDonald’s after McDonald’s, which are mere minutes away from each other, and still it took me over two hours to get the complete set. I don’t know what McDonald’s corporate Halloween pail distribution strategy is, but I can tell you that nearly every goddamned location you go to has the ghost. It’s ridiculous. One location even lied to me, telling me in the drive thru they had the green, then tried to hand me McBoo through the window. Homey don’t play that. I got my money back and continued my search. Out of the roughly six thousand McDonald’s I visited today, only one had McPunk’n, and only one had McGoblin. So best of hunting, my friends, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Some McDonald’s will just let you buy a pail and be on your way. The one that sold me McPunk’n would only sell me one if I bought something, but would sell me as many as I wanted after that. The place that sold me McGoblin, however, demanded a separate food purchase for each green pail a customer wanted. McDonald’s clearly has no sales standards, and their franchisees just make up the rules as they see fit. It’s a lawless hellscape out there, my friends. Shop accordingly.

Since I had to buy a burger, I figured what the hell. It can’t possibly go that bad twice in a row, right? Let’s make this interesting. Let’s do Roll For Burger: Take 2!

Here are my results. The bread roll demanded that I eat the burger on the sesame seed bun it came on, but by the time I had driven around all afternoon the bun was hard and extremely unappealing. It was not toasted, but somehow it was very crunchy. Hell no. Bread shouldn’t do that. I used a blueberry bagel.

Likewise, I failed to check the office fridge, and found out after the sauce roll that I had no tartar sauce available to me. But I did find plenty of peanut butter.

And there we have it. Quarter pounder with cheese on a blueberry bagel with extra American cheese, Takis Waves Fuego, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter. Let’s take a look at that cross section.

Okay, not pretty, but not the worst looking thing I’ve ever eaten. I definitely should have thrown this in the microwave to melt that cheese a little, but everything seems obvious in hindsight. Let’s taste this bitch.

Not too bad, actually. My brother has told me that he’s eaten peanut butter on burgers on more than one occasion, and that the flavors actually compliment each other quite nicely. And he’s absolutely right. A big surprise was how well the sunflower seeds worked with the peanut butter. The soft crunch of the seeds made this feel like chunky peanut butter, but without the sharp hardness of little roasted peanut shrapnel. It was a gentler, more sophisticated crunch. If creamy peanut butter is rock ‘n’ roll, and extra crunchy is heavy metal, then peanut butter plus sunflower seeds is late ’90s Paul Simon: a little jazzy, a little quirky and offbeat in a good way, and something very few people are likely to try it despite it’s delightfully unique taste.

If I had to do it again, I’d ease up on the Takis. A little of that Tajín flavor goes a long way. But all in all, not a bad lunch. Because I had to smoosh those chips down in order to eat it, I call this burger The Graveyard Smash, and I give it a 7 out of 10. See ya next time!

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