Costumes were $1.99 or $2.99, the candy was cheaper than today, but still a price was paid. This ad -- this one single ad -- is irrefutable proof how utterly lame Halloween was back in the day.
Kids of today, you have no idea how good you have it. Let's examine, via close-ups, the horror of trick-and-treating back in those dark days.
Here we have choices that amply demonstrate the rigid specifications of '70s Halloween costumes: For boys, you had a cheap-looking shirt emblazoned with some iron-on logo, and a featureless pair of very thin vinyl pants of whatever color the shirt was. These usually had to be worn over regular pants, if you wanted to survive the night without frostbite.
"Frankie Groovie" and "Baron Balthazar" were TV characters whose 15 minutes of fame apparently exactly coincided with this particular year's Halloween. Or, given the crazy low prices and Woolworth's reputation back then, the previous year's Halloween.
Why Superman is wearing a mask, we have no idea. Nor do we know why Mickey Mouse appears to be a wasted college freshman barfing up the Ripple wine at a mixer.
The type gets a little fuzzy when you blow this ad up, but the costume in the middle is a witch, there's Casper on the right, of course, although for some reason he looks like some old dude at a gay bar who's just seen a prime piece of man-meat walk in the door.
More importantly, on the left is Donald Duck. Who apparently has taken some very bad acid and has turned into a raving satyr bent on quenching his darkest desires. (Between this and Mickey, it's obvious the Disney trademark-infringement department was not as on-their-toes as they are today.)
We'll ignore the child-rape imagery of a seemingly random claw grasping an innocent girl (The full version of the ad might make you think it's Spiderman's hand, but he doesn't have a hand like that.) And Might Mouse looks remarkably like Mighty Mouse, although we're guessing the actual costume didn't.
We'll instead concentrate on the dude in the middle. A perfect costume for anyone who wants to go as a too-enthusiastic grad student who loves to talk about anything and everything.
No, wait: A closer look reveals this costume is "Hair Bear" and googling reveals Hair Bear was a character in a cartoon whose introduction seems designed to make you change the channel:
Yes, that kid definitely looks like a bear in that costume.
The Ben Cooper Costume Safety Seal!! That must mean something!!
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
(Ben Cooper, wiki tells us, was the foremost purveyor of these cheap costumes and was known as the "Halston of Halloween.")
To the right of the coveted seal, which the company handed out to its own products, is Woody Woodpecker, Raggedy Ann and someone whose name we can't read, all eagerly asking kids to come join them in a drug orgy. One in which Bella La Ghostly has obviously already taken part in, heavy on the X. And any kid who actually decided he wanted to go as the boxheaded robot on the lower left doomed himself to a life of nerd-dom.