Some allegedly insider information has set the internet ablaze with ’90s kid nostalgia for an old McDonald’s Halloween promotion—it doesn’t take much to get us all way too excited to start reminiscing about the past, does it? The pop culture/horror blog Nightmare Nostalgia recently reported that McDonald’s might be planning to bring back its popular Happy Meal Halloween Pails, first offered in the mid-1980s.
For those lucky enough to have been alive for the original run of these trick-or-treat buckets, a combination of hope, nostalgia, and raging excitement are taking over. Before we can address the (somewhat substantiated) rumors of a possible comeback for the spooky pails, it’s only right to honor their history.
The Halloween-themed Happy Meal buckets have gone through many iterations over the years, but none truly compare to the original run, notes Nightmare Nostalgia.
The original buckets were offered nationwide in 1986 and came as the container to any Happy Meal, replacing the usual cardboard cube with something a kid could actually use after eating their food. Three orange jack-o’-lantern buckets were offered with different faces and “personalities.” Each was, in a feat of perfect marketing, given a name: McPunk’n, a traditional, smiling jack-o’-lantern; McBoo, a ghost face; and McGoblin, with more of an evil grin.
Following the success of their original release, “Boo Buckets” were then offered again the following year, undergoing numerous redesigns thereafter. In 1989 they were released in three colors—orange, white, and green—to better suit their names. In 1992, the buckets were McPunk’n, McBoo, and McWitch, and they were fitted with a lid that doubled as a cookie cutter. By 2001, the pails lost their faces entirely and no longer featured a cookie cutter lid. So, if the buckets really are being re-released for Halloween 2022, who knows what version of them we’d receive?
At this point, McDonald’s has several different generations of consumers it could make a nostalgia play for—which generation’s childhood memories will be matched by these upcoming buckets?
Nightmare Nostalgia’s report on the potential return of McDonald’s Halloween pails stems from a photo provided by someone claiming to be a McDonald’s employee. It’s a picture of “the official office corporate calendar of events.” On October 18, an event is listed reading “Halloween Pails Happy Meal Begins,” and it’s listed as ending on October 31. While no other details of the promotion are noted on the calendar image, Nightmare Nostalgia writer Patti Paultergeist writes that “more than a few” McDonald’s employees have corroborated the tip.
Just the slightest whiff of this speculation sent Twitter users into a nostalgic tailspin.
Twitter user @michaelabroooke tweeted, “I don’t think people understand that I will absolutely be eating a McDonald’s kids meal as often as possible October 18th-31st for those dang Halloween buckets. I WILL collect them all.”
Another user, @wanttobeleavin, tweeted, “I’m way too excited for these McDonald’s Happy meal Halloween buckets and I don’t even eat at McDonald’s anymore. This is the kind of nostalgia we needed. This is it.”
Many other Twitter users tweeted out images of their favorite buckets, tagging McDonald’s official Twitter account and praising the potential comeback. Others made memes. Here’s a selection of other reactions:
- “I’m not sure if the kids or parents are more excited.”
- “The way I’d show up at mc donalds drive through so quickly”
- “I may have to steal them from my kids”
- “WHO’S GOING TO MCDONALDS WITH ME”
- “LIFE IS WORTH LIVING AGAIN”
- “IF I DONT GET ONE I WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN.”
- “The long national nightmare is over”
McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment; the claims are still unconfirmed publicly by the company as of this writing. Until a response or statement is given, these rumors have to sadly stay in the nostalgia-drenched dreams of the McDonald’s Halloween Pail fans on the internet. And those fans are taking their job very seriously.