Grocery Store Scavenger Haunt

October 20, 2012 — Seven centuries ago, an obscure order of monastic scholars from a generally unacknowledged branch of Catholicism scoured some of the most ancient texts in existence to create a list of the ten most horrifying questions in the world. Number eight was, "Wanna go to the grocery store?"

There is no purgatory like pushing a rectangle of metal mesh on squeaky casters down a cold, tiled aisle of packaged food. It's horrible. I mean, just like steak lovers who want be as far away from the animal butchering as possible, I don't want to see what I'm about to eat displayed on a shelf.

That changes at Halloween.

At this time of year, grocery shopping is no longer a torment to the soul. It’s a scavenger hunt, as you look to see what new Halloween- and Autumn-themed treat and treat packaging are just a conveyor belt away from your kitchen cabinet. You look for old faithfuls that tell you the season is officially here and new ones that help you gauge whether and how much the season is upping its game this year. It’s a blast. Even if you end up with a cart full of caramel apple Milky Ways and none of the groceries you were actually supposed to get.

Because you can live off caramel apple Milky Ways once you get used to them.

So recently, on one of our weekly trips to the grocery store, I decided to stop using “scavenger hunt” as a metaphor and actually have a scavenger hunt. At least a photo scavenger hunt.

I try to fit seasonal food items into the blog every year, but it's hard for me to for a couple of reasons. First, I don't like reviewing products. Feels dirty and, like movie reviews, there is just too much of it on the Internet. Mostly, though, it’s because I will devour every bit of artificially flavored and dyed chemical-based morsel of sugar that crosses my threshold. That sounds like an upside, I guess, and it is for about three minutes, but it turns quickly into horror and despair.

You probably see the flaw in this plan already. I could go to a place like Target or Walmart, stores that take all their seasonal items and put them in one place. But it's more fun at grocery stores, because they stick Halloween stuff throughout the store, even when they have a small seasonal aisle already.

So here’s what I found in one night. At least, what I could salvage as a lot of the pics were too blurry to use, taken as they were in a hurried and sweaty state of embarrassment while my wife casually meandered away and pretended to be grocery shopping with whoever else would say “Hi” to her. That said, this article could not have been illustrated prior to cell phone cameras. But I still looked like a tool taking pictures of groceries in public.

It’s all for you, Damien. All for you.

I don't like beer, but it always wins the
grocery store Halloween costume contest.

The two my store didn't have were
the Canada Dry mummy and the Sunkist vampire.

I'm not sure why, but I still never equate Russell Stover
with Halloween despite cool packaging like this.

I had to travel back in time to 1982 for this picture.

We bought the Jack-o-lantern soap.
It did not, in fact, glow in the dark.
I've seen these displays at a few locations.
None of them are put together correctly.
Oh, there you guys are. Two out of three ain't bad.


  1. Hostess Glo Balls...? All we seem to get in England are strange flavours of Jaffa Cakes. I'm waiting for the Halloween themed Eccles Cakes.

  2. wait, so you can get Halloween-themed Newkie Brown -- but only in the States? there really are no words that adequately express how upset this makes me.

  3. I had to take my eight year old to five different stores to find Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry. Halloween is officially allowed to arrive now.

  4. Never heard of the caramel-apple Milky Way! Sounds delicious. Now I have a new life's mission...