Halloween is my favorite holiday. I realize there are people out there who are reading this and asking themselves, “Is she crazy?”
The short answer is, probably. But I’m not the only one who rates Halloween as number one. There are many others out there who feel the same, and all of us have our reasons.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris said recently that he thinks Halloween is “the best,” and he summed up all of the main reasons quite nicely. He said, “It’s a whole month you get to celebrate, you don’t have to buy anybody gifts, you get to go to haunted houses ... you get to go get scared, you get to put on costumes ...”
These are all great reasons to put Halloween at the top of the holiday favorites list. Personally, I love the horror movies, especially the really cheesy or hard-to-find horror movies of the 1960s through the ’80s. My favorite? “Vampire Circus,” a little-known horror movie produced by Hammer Films in 1972.
Speaking of vampires, however, and other reasons to love Halloween, my boyfriend lives for Halloween for one reason and one reason only: Count Chocula cereal.
Every year, Billy hits the stores to stock up on his Count Chocula. He has occasionally mixed it up with the Count’s companions, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, but trust me when I say it is only when he has plenty of Count Chocula in the pantry on stand-by.
The official stocking-of-the-pantry-shelves begins in September, roughly when General Mills begins shipping the cereals to our local stores, and ends once Halloween is over, or when our local stores have run out.
The problem this year is we have not been able to find any Count Chocula anywhere. We have searched. And searched. Walmart. H-E-B. Aldi. Target (just last night, in fact, because they said they still had some in stock — they lied). We have hunted high and low. And the sad fact is Billy is looking at the first Halloween in many, many years without his beloved Count Chocula.
One of us is going to have to turn to the internet.
Billy has done this before. He’s even bought expired Count Chocula from eBay because it was the middle of the summer and he didn’t want to wait for autumn to roll around. We’ve just never had to turn to the internet out of sheer desperation.
Billy would eat his weight in Count Chocula if he could. This is due in part because it’s chocolate, but also, I believe, because of the nostalgia behind the cereal itself.
Many of you reading this will be able to relate to this, I’m sure: General Mills introduced Count Chocula and Franken Berry to the American public in 1971, and while the cover art on the boxes may have changed slightly over the years, they are still easily recognizable.
The cereals even have some pretty interesting history behind them. Count Chocula’s voice was patterned after Bela Lugosi; Franken Berry’s voice, Boris Karloff; Boo Berry’s, Peter Lorre. Another fun fact: Franken Berry cereal’s original formula contained a red dye not easily broken down by the human body, making children pass pink poop; dubbed “Franken Berry Stool” there was even a 1972 case study written about it in Pediatrics.
And in 1987, General Mills added Bela Lugosi’s iconic “Dracula” likeness next to Count Chocula’s on the box, complete with six-pointed medallion. The issue? The medallion looked like a Star of David, and the Jewish community took issue with it, causing General Mills to recall the original boxes and release a different version, as well as issue an apology.
While there are other cereals with a Halloween theme, the fact is that none of them are Count Chocula.
Billy did finally settle for Reese’s Puffs Bats, but he was none too happy about it. He has issued an edict: Find Count Chocula on the internet and have it delivered before Halloween.
Because for him, Halloween just will not be Halloween without it.
Stephanie Ratts Grissom is a Herald correspondent.