Not Your Average Scooby Snacks: Halloween Dog Food

September 22, 2015 — I have a black cat that I dig very much. Right now, she’s behind me in my study chasing a cricket. But even with that, we’re still not exactly on PetSmart terms. I don’t really ever shop for her. She just texts me what she needs when I’m out at the human grocery store (ain’t that fresh).

And apparently, we’re both missing out. At least during the Halloween Season.

A couple of weeks back, we were dogsitting for friends. The dog’s name is Bailey and she’s a Lab mix something or other. Her owners brought all the things a dog needs for a weekend stay: Bed, leash, crate, water and food bowls, toys, treats, and those little plastic baggies for walking that might be the only reason I don’t own a dog. Basically more than I send along with my kid for sleepovers. But one thing Bailey brought with him that more than made up for those little plastic bags: Halloween dog food.

Not Bailey. But reasonably close enough.

Yup, that’s how far our country’s Halloween madness has metastasized. But you know what? I cannot call this a gimmick. Just can’t. Let me show you why with these photos…that I took while Bailey looked at me in absolute confusion.

First are a couple of products from a company called Blue Buffalo, which offers dog edibles with names like Blue’s Stew and Blue Bars. For Halloween, they rechristened these brands as Boo Stew and Boo Bars. And then they packaged it like trick-or-treaters held toilet-paper rolls to their heads. I mean, look at that packaging. It’s more Halloween than a Target candy aisle. Besides the buffalo sheet ghost, there’s a witch on a broom, a haunted house, a jack-o-lantern, a bat, some cobwebs, an owl. I mean, they threw some real Halloween on there. Didn’t mess around at all, almost like they anticipated some serious Halloween competition in the doggy aisle.

And I guess they do have some competition because something else Bailey brought with her in addition to a longsuffering attitude with how hard my toddler pets is a treat by a company called Zuke’s. Their offering to the Halloween gods is Mini Naturals Ghosts, give or take a trademark symbol. We’ll get to that name in a second, but what I want to point out here is that they went more the Fall route than the spooky route, with Autumn-colored trees and a treat being handed to a dog from a hand that it’s hard to imagine isn’t extending from a sweater sleeve. They also threw a couple of ghosts on their package, of the sort that usually represent souls of the damned. Again, we’ll get to that in a second.

But these companies went further, the mad pet food scientists that they are. Not only did they give their products spooky names and throw a Halloween costume on them, they flavored the food for the season.

The Boo Bars are pumpkin and cinnamon flavored, while the Mini Naturals Ghosts are turkey and pumpkin. And the Boo Stew is called a “Halloween Feast,” although I have no idea what that means. I didn’t taste any of them. I’d need a far larger readership to induce me to do something like that. Like at least 10 more OTIS Facebook Page likes.

But not only did they rename, redesign, and reflavor their usual products, they gave those products seasonal shapes. The Boo Bars have pumpkins stamped into them. The Mini-Natural Ghosts are ghost-shaped. And there’s that explanation on that name that you’ve been waiting patiently for.

So you see? That’s too much commitment for a gimmick. There are massive food corporations with entire subsidiaries dedicated to children’s treats that don’t go this far at Halloween.

Blue Buffalo explains it with a little story on the back of the Boo Bars package about the founder’s dog and how much it loved Halloween. It has a nice little illustration of a dog in a devil costume. Of course, we all know that this marketing (including Beelzebub Blue himself) is completely for pet owners. Anything to make the ones with opposable digits grab this brand off the shelf instead of a competitor’s.

But in a season where every pet is potentially a familiar, it makes sense on other levels, too.

Oh, and then I saw this at Target.
That's right. It says "Limited Edition Package."