Kool-Aid Vampires and Cheetos Mummies

October 2, 2013 – As adults, we dither too much about what wine pairs with which food. As kids, we instinctively knew what drink went with what. Box lunch? Capri Sun or Hi-C. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Milk, however you take it. Macaroni? Apple juice. Grilled hot dogs? Orange Crush or Grape Nehi. Coke goes with everything.

And a bag of Cheetos? That calls for Kool-Aid.

But I don’t think we ever got the chance to pair them like this.

Both Kool-Aid and Cheetos have come out with Halloween products that stick out a bit on this year’s Halloween shelves...mostly because of their big containers, but also because the Halloween costumes of their product packaging are pretty good. As a result, I’ve eaten more Cheetos and drank more Kool-Aid over the past two weeks that my previous 20 years combined.

So, first, let’s turn our tongues purple.

Kool-Aid’s Ghoul-Aid isn’t a new product. In fact, it’s been around long enough that I’ve seen people use the world “classic” for it online. Certainly, the Halloween pun of its name is too good to abandon. Ghoul-Aid usually comes in packets of powder that you add water to, but this year they mixed things up a bit…by actually pre-mixing them for us as Jammers.

Jammers are basically juice boxes, except instead of boxes, they’re foil pouches. You still get to poke them with straws, though. I’ve probably inserted straws into juice boxes and pouches a million times, but despite all that evidence, I still don’t think it should work. It’s like the package-makers are using some obscure rule of physics.

The best thing about Ghoul-Aid is the packaging, which is carried through on both the individual Jammers and in the box that they come in. The motif is generally purple, with highlights of yellow and green and, of course, the red of the Kool-Aid Man himself, who is dressed like a vampire. This costume transmographies the Kool-Aid mascot more than you might immediately think. I mean, throw a cape on him and suddenly what was once a head full of Kool-Aid is now a head full of blood…on the rocks.

Quite ghoulish, actually. Well-named, Kraft Foods.

They don’t even rest on their marketing laurels with the term Ghoul-Aid. They go one further by giving the actual flavor its own Halloween sheen…Scary Blackberry.

The color of the drink is, naturally…or I guess that’s unnaturally…purple, although it’s hard to tell without squeezing a sizeable quantity into a glass. Otherwise, though the brief glimpse that the yellow straw offers or if some dribbles out, it looks clear. The purple is a nice shade, very Halloween, and certainly worth turning into a cocktail (which I know is what you were wondering).

Which brings me to the thing I hate to admit about Ghoul-Aid…I don’t really like it. I mean, it's a decent blackberry beverage…I just never want a blackberry beverage. When it comes to Kool-Aid, I only want the original flavor or I drink something else.

Still, even though you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can still admire it for one, and the Ghoul-Aid packaging hopefully should inspire somebody to go as vampire Kool-Aid Man for Halloween. Or develop a taste for liquid blackberry.

Now…let’s stain our fingers orange.

Every year, snack foods of the non-candy variety—chips, pretzels, etc.— try to convince us that they are just as good for handing out to trick-or-treaters as any mini-Snickers or packet of gummy bears. I’m still a nubie when it comes to trick-or-treating in the modern era, but I’m pretty sure they’re lying.

Nevertheless, every season, they put out Halloween-themed products in order to try to make the idea make sense. And this year, Frito-Lay stood out from the competition by offering large, plastic, Target-exclusive buckets decorated with a mummy and filled with glow-in-the-dark snack-sized packages of Cheetos.

I’m not sure if they’re trying to trick us into thinking the bucket is collectible or if it’s meant to be a trick-or-treat container (making it another tactic in their overall strategy), but I dig it either way.

The mummy art is great, featuring a close-up of a green-tinted monster who looks exactly the right amount of insane for someone who’s been locked in a sarcophagus for millennia without any organs. Inside, the bucket contains 15 “treat”-sized bags of Cheetos, each bearing an image of Chester Cheetah wrapped up like a mummy.

Oh, and the bags glow in the dark. It’s the type of differentiation a product needs at the bottom of a pillowcase.

Strangely, the bucket includes a Universal Monsters seal and a line of trademark copy, when the mummy looks like nothing that needs to be licensed. I scoured their website trying to figure out why, but came up empty.

Well, empty as far as answering the question of why Frito-Lay would pay licensing fees when there’s no reason to, but not completely empty…because Cheetos has done a really cool thing.

A really cool thing besides this, that is.
On October 1, Cheetos unveiled a site called Project TP. The idea is that you can virtually TP your friends’ houses, famous landmarks, the world really. As Chester says on the site, "Halloween has gone soft, and we're here to take it back." Now, virtual TP sounds lame, sure, but when the concept is hooked up to the mapping prowess of Google Satellite and Streetview, it becomes, like most everything Google touches, pretty daggone cool.

Basically you type in any address, and after a bit of drama including Chester and a plane full of toilet paper set up on bomb racks, you get a Google Streetview image of the house covered in virtual toilet paper.

Here, showing you is probably better. I chose to TP some houses from famous horror movies:

The house from The Exorcist.
The house of Michael Myers.
The Thompson residence from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
It didn’t always work. Sometimes, it just didn’t have the image data. For instance, I tried to TP the house where The Amittyville Horror was filmed, but it couldn’t lock onto it. Also, if the house was too far back from the road or was blocked by foliage, the TP effect wasn’t the best. Like Stephen King’s house here:

But for houses right on the road with definite addresses, the effect is pretty good, and for most houses you can navigate around thanks to StreetView until you have a good angle.

Anyway, I’m going to keep TPing some houses, and then I’ll take my bucket of Cheetos and box of Ghoul-Aid and pretend it’s fifth grade again.

I just need a lunch table that I can sit by myself at.

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