Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Cinnamon Rolls

Remember when I said I was going to put up 1 post a day, if not more?  What the heck happened?  Well, I'll tell ya.  I work for the Brooklyn Nets and, for the past 9 days, I've been nothing but busy.  Unfortunately, between work and traveling through the NY Subway system, I've been pretty tired.  I hope you understand that I wanted to post more, and that I'm upset over the fact that so much of the Halloween season was taken away by work, but it has cut into my Holidaze.  On the bright side, I'm back today and I'm hoping to keep this ball rolling straight through Halloween.  Despite my lack of posting, I've been taking pictures and attempting to embrace Halloween as best I could.  Hopefully I'll have a few good posts left before things wrap up in.. believe it or not.. 10 days!!

Today's topic is nothing new, but one of my favorite traditions that wasn't covered last year.  We've all seen the Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls at the grocery story.  They're always there, usually at the end, enticing you to heat 'em up and indulge.  If your anything like me, you probably do and, really, who can blame you?  These have always been delicious.  Since I was a kid, I've always loved Cinnamon Rolls.  I remember my Mom making them when I was in grammar school and it was always the highlight of my week.  I could be up to my head in homework, stressing out over who the Power Rangers would be up against next, and my Mom would save the day with Cinnamon Rolls.  To this day, this treat can turn my day around.

Now, white icing is one thing.  But, for Halloween, Pillsbury dies the icing orange!!  The flavor stays exactly the same, but it's orange!  That's it!  That's Halloween and, whenever I can find the Halloween edition, I snatch it up.  Last year, I couldn't.  But if there's one thing working in Brooklyn has brought me, it's these Cinnamon Rolls.  I found these at Path Mark across the street from Barclays Center.  Even when I'm working, I'm thinking Holidaze!

With the lid on, the orange icing looks like orange icing.  It could be so many things.  It could be a toxic ooze from Saturn.  It could be pumpkin blood.  It could even be, ya know, icing!  But, with the cap off?

With the cap off, this just looks like cheese.  It looks like I just stopped into Nathan's and they handed me a cup of cheese for their fries.  Believe me, I spent more than enough time at Seton Hall, where all we had to eat was Nathan's, so I know my melted cheese.  If you didn't know anything about this post, you'd think of nothing else when looking at that picture!

Now, after you start icing the Cinnamon Rolls, they begin to look like cheeseburgers.  So far, you're probably wondering why the hell these things are any good or Halloween related at all.  Justified, but I'm telling you what it looks like, not what it smells like.  Not what it tastes like.  When you bring all of your senses together, you're in Halloween Heaven.  It's the perfect combination for a late night Halloween snack.  Like I said, the white icing is classic, but when you start changing colors, you really add so much to the season.  In fact, I would like to see these released with multiple icing colors.  Maybe some green, purple, or red?  It could lead to so many marketing opportunities as well.  That would be great!

Besides my Freddy Krueger cookie sheet adding more horror to the photos than you'd probably like, these Halloween Cinnamon Rolls look amazing.  I wish I didn't already eat them so I could eat them again.  Look at the 2nd picture above and tell me you're not hungry now.  McDonalds pays big money to get their burgers looking like that.  If only they read the Holidaze and knew to fool you with Halloween Cinnamon Rolls instead.  That's the key!

When they've cooled just a little bit, plate them and prepare to get messy.  Don't eat these if you don't want to get messy because that's the best way to enjoy Halloween Cinnamon Rolls.  As for me, my girlfriend sat down with these, put the lights out, and caught up on two seasons worth of The Walking Dead.  Can you believe a Hallowgeek like me missed that boat?  Where was I?  That show deserves a whole blog, let alone a post, dedicated to it.  But now, thanks to Netflix and these Cinnamon Rolls, I'm all caught up and ready for tonight.  

Hopefully you're all still with me here.  I know I've missed a few days, but I love writing in this blog and talking about Halloween so I'll do my best to make the last 10 days worth your couple of minutes.  So stay tuned!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Kisses

I spotted these about a month ago and they've been sitting in my kitchen ever since.  As you all know, I don't like the taste of pumpkin flavored anything.  I really really wish I did because everything comes in a pumpkin variety during this time of year.  There was such an uproar over Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte the other day and I wasn't able to take part in the commotion.  I wanted to be upset over the low supply and high demand as well!  But I couldn't have cared less because I never drink the stuff.  Such a shame.

I've tried tasting various pumpkin items over the years, but it usually results in the same outcome.  Granted, Pumpkin beer was good after it's taste was acquired, but that's about it.  I love the smell of pumpkin pie, but can never make it past the first bite.  I wanted to review pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts, but knew that would just be a waste of money.  It's really annoying, honestly.  I'd love to get my taste buds situated, but they can't stand pumpkin.

Regardless of my own personal preferences, the new Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses were just too new to pass up.  As soon as I saw them, I knew I'd eventually give in so I just went ahead and bought it right there and then.  As I said, for about a month, they sat on the kitchen table in their fancy fall bag, just waiting for somebody to enjoy them.  I admired the design, but didn't feel any urge to open them up.  But I knew, for The Holidaze, it needed to be done.  So I continued onward.

Much like Pumpkin Pie, the smell that hits you as soon as you open this bag is amazing.  It's very spicy, in the pumpkin sense, and gets your appetite working up a sweat.  Even though I knew I'd probably hate these Kisses, my nose was telling my tongue to have a change of heart.  I was giving into everything now and I knew I was on my way to trying one of these new Kisses.  Whether I liked it or not, this review was getting written for The Holidaze season!

First, though, we have to talk about the wrappers.  The Pumpkin Spice Kisses are wrapped in gold and brown foil.  I've always been a fan of Hershey's changing their Kisses' wrappers from color to color to represent the time of year.  For Halloween, it's black and orange.  For Christmas, it's green and red.  For Valentines Day, it's red and pink.  The little things mean a lot to me and, this time, I'm mesmerized by the swirls.  It looks like the Kisses are dressed up in Tiger costumes for Halloween.  I know this is a Fall item and probably isn't mean to be associated with October 31st, but I'm going to go ahead and change all that.  These Kisses can't wait for Halloween and they've taken this opportunity to dress up early and let the whole world know that they're Kissing Tigers made of Pumpkin Spice.  Scares me, at least.

On the bag, the Hershey's Kiss depicted in the lower right corner is light brown, so this was to be expected, but I got such a thrill opening up this wrapper.  Seeing how light and "caramelly" this Kiss looked made my day.  In fact, I wish it was caramel!  That would have been covered weeks ago.  But I love seeing something different, something new, for the change in seasons.  Hershey's made me proud with this one.  But I knew the moment of truth was coming next, so my pride was swallowed and I moved on to the next test.  It was time to eat Pumpkin Spice Kisses.

Honestly, not that bad.  It's not my favorite candy in the world, but it's pretty good.  I'll call it decent, how's that?  Like the bag states, It tastes much more like Pumpkin Spice than it does Pumpkin and, for me, that's certainly a plus.  I'm not sure what type of filling that is in the middle, but it adds a different type of texture to the Kiss.  It makes it chewier, if that makes any sense.  Other than that, it makes for a cool contrast in colors and, even better, awesome alliteration ;)

Overall, this was a good pick-up.  If you're like the majority of people who enjoy pumpkin flavored products, then I'd say this is a must-buy.  If I like it, even a little bit, then you're bound to jump for glory.  Despite my picky eating and low tolerance for anything outside my realm of preference, I do know that this is amazing candy and a great direction for Hershey.  I'm sure, if you try it, you'll like it.  So go ahead, pumpkin eaters!  Purchase a bag of Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses and give it a swirl.  Then let me know what YOU think!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

McDonalds Happy Meal Classics

When I was growing up, McDonald's was always a hot spot.  I know it catches flack for not being healthy, and I understand that, but can we all agree that it tastes pretty damn good?  When I was a kid, I couldn't get enough of McDonald's and it's probably due to their advertising.  Activists who fight against child obesity today have made the classic fast food characters of my day an endangered species.  Now, only Ronald McDonald exists.  The rest of McDonaldland has gone into hiding.  But I remember when McDonald's and Burger King characters were just as prevalent on TV as Spongebob is today.  I even had a McDonaldland video game!  They were such a crucial part of McDonald's business strategy and, really, can ya blame them?  Ronald McDonald lured kids in, he showed them what type of cookies and toys he had, then he ran off with their Parents' money with a big smile on his face.  Talk about a Hamburglar!

That's an old commercial that I don't own.  I found it on YouTube and, apparently, it's from 1995.  I would have been about 7 and I greatly remember those Happy Meal toys!  The toys didn't move, they didn't have any fancy lights or sounds, but they had removable  costumes and that was better than anything I could have imagined.  There was something about putting those characters in costume that made the season seem so much better.  In my mind, I completely changed them from Grimace to a Ghost.  It was all in my mind, but the nostalgia stays with me to this day.

Because I miss those times and the days when Fast Food Cartoon Characters ruled over all Saturday morning commercials, I had to turn to Ebay and see what I could find.  Once I get my mind set on a certain time, I have to do whatever I can to relive those memories.  Luckily, I found a few!

Here's Birdie the early Bird!  She was known for representing the breakfast line at McDonald's, but became more of a fixture as the years went on.  Because I'm a boy, she was never my favorite.  "Pink is for girls!"  I never wanted to find a Birdie toy in my Happy Meal, but when you went as much as I did, it was bound to happen.  But, around Halloween, it didn't matter because it meant a new costume!  I always liked seeing what the characters would come dressed as so, even in this case, I would have been happy to find something new.  Now, at 25, I still would have rathered Grimace or The Hamburglar, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to 18 year old Happy Meal toys!

Here she is!  All decked out in her pumpkin suit!  I like this costume a lot because you can still see her face.  Plus, it's a pretty girly costume.  The last time I saw a boy dress up as a pumpkin, he was either 3 years old or dressed in one of those Creature Reachers.  That's totally different.  So I like how much McDonald's focused on who would wear what costume.  This is the perfect fit for Birdie.  The only thing that would have been better is a cat.  Ya know, since cats eat birds? How ironic would that have been? Hmm.. Stay tuned.

Here we have the Hamburglar.  It's not the one depicted in the video (that one was my favorite back in the day,) but he's still pretty cool.  I think this was released at a later time and his sole purpose was to work as a candy dispenser for kids.  I'm not sure how that would work exactly, but I believe the kids would store their candy (probably came with the Happy Meal) by lowering the Hamburglar's mask.  I guess the point was that his mask would scare any thief's away from stealing the one or two sweetarts you could fit in there.  I like the concept, but the removable costumes were so much better!  Either way, I can't hate on my man The Hamburglar.  He's always been my favorite McDonaldland character.

When you lower the mask, it fits perfectly around his head leaving just enough room for his eyes to peek through.  Let me point out how interesting of a mask this actually is.  The first thing that comes to mind is Freddy Krueger.  The rounded nose, the heavy wrinkles and, of course, The Hamburglar's hat only enhances the illusion.  Something tells me that's what McDonald's was going for in a time where slasher films were still relevant.  But I also see a green goblin.  Not THE Green Goblin from Spideman, but a generic form.  He's hideous, that's for sure.  And the kicker is the fact that his tongue is sticking out with a giant spider crawling up and into his mouth.  If this didn't scare kids from opening the candy dispenser, what would have?  This is a very cool McDonald's toy.  Not one of the best, but definitely a classic.

In the lot I purchased on Ebay, I received four legendary Happy Meal toys and Birdie was included twice.  That's probably why I snagged these for less than $3 shipped.  But in this case, I don't mind it because Birdie is bringing me back to the topic she originally started up above.  Wouldn't it be cool if the crazy minds at McDonald's decided to dress her up like a cat for Halloween?  Well..

 I may be the only one who thinks so, but this is extremely clever!  Obviously, Birdie was intended for young girls.  So there weren't many options to choose from in terms of making Birdie scary AND approachable.  We all know how much little boys love gross things.  That spider on Hamburglar's tongue would have made a little boy's day.  But a little girl?  She would have been disgusted.  I guess some things never change.  But for an adult with too much time on their hands, they can look at the Happy Meal toy and snicker.  Cats eat birds so, in Birdie's mind, this would be extremely scary!  I don't think it was going to keep kids from stealing your candy, but if your friend happens to be a bird, then you're in luck!  The only think that would have been funnier, is if she dressed up as a chicken nugget.  Oh, the irony in McDonaldland.

Last but not least, we have the head honcho himself -- Ronald McDonald.  Let's face it, this guy isn't clowning around.  He is, without a doubt, a world-wide icon!  He's a legendary figure and I don't think there's a kid on Earth who hasn't seen his seducing smile.  Even the hungry kids in Ethiopia have seen him.  They may not have seen any burgers, but they've definitely seen him.  He's everywhere, including my deck for the photo above.

This was one of my favorite McDonald's toys of all time.  When I think back to everything, I remember The Hamburglar, Grimace, and Ronald.  Halloween was such a big deal for me as a kid that this figure would have certainly enhanced my Holidaze tenfold.  The fact that I remember it so well is telling, but the fact that my heart skipped a beat when I saw his picture on Ebay is even more telling.  I'm a giant nerd, but I love Halloween.

 How amazing is his costume?  When Halloween rolls around, Ronald pulls out all the stops and dresses up as.. Frankenstein!!  And not just any old Frankie, but a traditionally green Frankie with BLUE hair!  What maniac at the McDonald's factory decided to paint his hair blue?  A genius, that's who!  It's crazy how much a stationary figure that doesn't make any sounds could do so much for me.  When I was a kid, I would act things out with the McDonaldland figures.  One second Ronald would be a clown, the next he'd be Frankenstein.  He'd scare the rest of the crew until they wound up having a Monster Mash costume party in the end.  I let my imagination do the work and, to this day, I try to uphold that tradition.  There's a time and place to be serious, but Halloween?  Nahh, that's not one of 'em!

Now that I've found a few of the classic Happy Meal figures, I'm interested in finding more.  Hamburglar dressed as Dracula is definitely one that I'd like to find, along with Grimace the Ghost.  I don't seem to remember much more than that, but the memories are vague so they could come back to me as I see them.  We'll see.  But if I do find anymore for a reasonable price, I'll place the order and review them on The Holidaze!  For now, just be Happy....Meal.  So corny.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dragon Fruit Pepsi

 Cool logo, right?  It's obviously not something you'd see in stores, so what does it represent?  Well, in case you haven't heard, Pepsi has a new flavor out and it's in stores now!  Is it Halloween related?  Nope.  Is it Fall themed?  I don't think so.  So why is it being covered on The Holidaze?  Because it's new and I plan on twisting it to be made into a Halloween drink.  In name alone, this becomes spooky.  Why is that?  Because this new Pepsi flavor is... DRAGON FRUIT!


This was something I didn't expect.  I didn't see a single advertisement for this limited edition and, if it were not for, I probably would have never noticed this at all.  Apparently, in partnership with "The X Factor," Pepsi went out and had fans test out new flavors.  In the end, much like the game show, only one would survive and make it to our shelves.  I guess those who taste tested the flavors chose Dragon Fruit because that's what we got!

Before I get to the taste, I have to talk about the box and point out how disappointed I am.  When I read that there was a Dragon Fruit Pepsi flavor, my imagination ran wild.  There were so many possibilities in terms of box and can design.  This was their shot to take things to the next level and go all out for a limited edition product.  And, if it's Halloween themed, there's no telling where it will end.  But, what did we get?  Blue and Red.  Ughhh.. Yeah, the blue is lighter and brighter.  They added some type of dragon scales which I do like.  But overall, this is exactly the same as every other Pepsi box.  If you weren't looking for Dragon Fruit Pepsi, how would you know the difference?  My prediction?  This is going to lead to another Polar Bear Coke Can fiasco.  I expect many people to cause an uproar over the lack of change.  Come on, Pepsi.. You coulda done better!

Cans are exactly the same and slapped with an X Factor logo.  What I don't know is if this is called "Pepsi X," "Pepsi," or "Dragon Fruit."  It doesn't do much to classify itself as Dragon Fruit Pepsi.  All it does is state, really small, "Dragon Fruit Flavored Cola."  Wow, how exciting is that?

To save a sinking ship, we had to Halloween this baby up a bit.  How do you do that?  My girlfriend bought an ice tray that transforms the cubes into pumpkin shapes.  That's enough for me!  Now we have a Dragon Fruit flavored cola with pumpkin ice.  Just like that, this has become a Halloween drink.  There's no denying it now, from here on out I'll always associate this Pepsi with this time of year.

I'll also associate it with Pepsi Clear and Pepsi Blue because, trust me, this cola will not be making a return after it's brief run.  Everything about this was poorly executed.  The graphics are horrible, the flavor is nothing but bitter and, even though I've never tried a Dragon Fruit, I'm fairly confident that it tastes nothing like this Pepsi.  I'm just disappointed in this.  I was really hoping for something different, something good!  I thought it was going to have a great flavor like Wild Cherry Pepsi.  But this was just a waste of time.

To turn things around here, I quickly made a design that would have been better.  For as much as I would have loved to make this all about Halloween, I thought realistically.  It's obvious Pepsi didn't want this associated with anything other than them and The X Factor, so I went that route.  At least add a few different colors and make this stand out.  Regardless of whether or not it looks like Halloween, becoming a seasonal item is enough to make this related and remind people of Fall.  Look at Cranberry Sierra Mist.  It doesn't look like Halloween, but it IS Halloween.. at least for me!

It's not true to scale, but it's much better than what's being offered.  This lets you know exactly what you're buying, brings attention to the product, and allows customers to make an educated decision on what they're about to buy.  When you see this, you expect something fruity and you don't have to look hard at all to understand what flavor this is.  Plus, I stayed true to The X Factor partnership and whatever that "X" logo is.  I still have no idea if that's supposed to be a letter or a bird.  I just threw it on there.

Overall, I'm very disappointed in Dragon Fruit Pepsi, but I'm happy with my own design and wanted to share it all, the good and the bad, with all of you here.  I'd recommend you buy this edition anyway because you might like it.  I didn't, but that's just one man's opinion.  You might think it's the greatest soda of all time.  Either way, it's worth trying.  Along with the various failed attempts of years past, this could go down in history!  You don't want to be the one who missed out on Dragon Fruit, so don't! 

Look at that, I just sold it better than Pepsi did!

Pepperidge Farm Caramel Apple Cookies

Halloween is only 21 days away!  You know what that means?  That means The Holidaze is about to pick up the pace!  Barring any unforeseen work explosions, I'm looking to update The Holidaze as frequently as possible.  I'd like to have at least one up each day, but multiple entries would be even better.  Even if that means posting short blogs that are easily read in 5 minutes.  In all actuality, that's probably what most of you are looking for anyway.  I doubt anybody is reading paragraphs and paragraphs worth of information about old cupcake boxes and ring pops.  But, for those of you who are, that's what they're there for.  For the rest of you, enjoy the pictures!

Today's post is about cookies and they were brought to my attention by my cousin, Meghan.  She's also responsible for finding the Caramel Apple Milky Ways.  I appreciate her support and love the fact that she's scouring through the aisles as much as I do now.  There's no doubt she's in a Holidaze and, hopefully, this site does the same for you.

 Originally, she told me about Caramel Apple Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies released by Pepperidge Farm.  For as much as I dislike pumpkin, I would have picked that up as well just to review for all of you.  Unfortunately, they were completely sold out of pumpkin.  But the funny thing is, I received a second hand review from the cashier at Wal-Mart.  After quickly glancing at the bag, she thought I had the Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies.  She went on and on about how great they were and how they tasted exactly like Pumpkin Pie.  She said she had become addicted to them and loves them so much.  She talked about how she couldn't get enough of them.  I guess we now know why they're sold out!

Then, as she looked again, she saw that I had the Caramel Apple Pie cookies and the conversation ended.  What was that all about?  Are my Caramel Apple Pie cookies no good?  She just did a full 180.  One second, you'd think she's the spokeswoman for Pepperidge Farm.  The next, she's bagging my items with that "I-hate-bagging-YOUR-items" attitude.  I didn't know what to expect now.  All I knew is that we had just purchased limited edition cookies that could go either way.  

Well, I can't speak for the Wal-Mart cashier, but I can tell you, first hand, that these cookies are awesome.  I call everything I like "awesome," but I haven't branched out in my vocabulary since high school so those types of adjectives are to be expected.  

I'm going to sound really fat right now, but these cookies are chewy and have the perfect amount of caramel and apple pieces.  It's funny, I can't find the apple pieces, but I can taste them.  I guess they blend in with the rest of the cookie.  These taste just like Fall.  It's like they melted down a Yankee Candle and turned it into a cookie.  To best describe this, imagine eating an oatmeal cookie that tastes like caramel apples.  That work?  Nope, I didn't think so either.  So, I'll end here and let Pepperidge Farm explain what you're in store for with these cookies.  From my end, all I can say is, no matter what that cashier said (or didn't say,) I love these Caramel Apple Cookies. 

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Hostess Scary Cakes

No matter how old I get, I'll never be able to get enough of Halloween cupcakes.  There's just something about a black and orange combo that gets my Halloween juices flowing.  I love walking through the grocery store aisles, looking at all of the Halloween/Fall themed products, and trying to decide which one was coming home with me this time.  Usually, I'll go with whatever is new.  If I've never seen or tried it before, then that's the way to go.  But, at the same time, I can never neglect the classics and, there's no denying, Hostess Scary Cakes are certainly classic!

Last year, I was unable to enjoy the Hostess Scary Cakes because they weren't released.  Well, that's not entirely true.  As Hostess tweeted me last year, Scary Cakes were under the disguise of Transformers.  Basically, that was just a nice way of saying "We sold out this year and decided to partner up with a big blockbuster movie instead."  So, for that reason, Hostess missed out on my few dollars.  I couldn't give in to the media giant and help aid the removal of these traditional treats.  As far as I was concerned, Transformer Cupcakes needed to fail so Scary Cakes could once again rise.  Maybe my plan worked.  Or maybe there wasn't any movie worth partnering up with.  Of course, ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania, or Frankenweenie promotions would have been amazing.

Luckily for all of us, Hostess Scary Cakes are back this year and, I guess, they're much more Fall themed than Halloween related.  This bums me out.  What's so "scary" about this box?  There's a scarecrow, with a pumpkin head, surrounded by bats.  It also appears to be dusk or dawn.  Ohhhh spooky!!  Not in the least!  I absolutely love Hostess Scary Cakes for everything they represent and for my own nostalgic reasons, but what are they thinking with this box?  What happened to those amazing graphics?  Where did the "Scary" in "Scary Cakes" go exactly?  Just take a look at previous designs.

Regardless of what you think about the 2011 Scary Cakes, the "Chocwave Shockwave" edition was designed much better than the 2012 edition.  It's not amazing and is, overall, pretty plain.  But the change in cupcake makes up for everything else.  They went with a red frosting and silver sprinkles.  Not great for Halloween, but awesome for Summer months.  Either way, this was a nice box.

Now, in 2011, Hostess didn't leave us Halloween Fiends hanging completely.  Sure, we may not have gotten our Scary Cakes, but we did get "Orange CupCakes."  I covered this last year, and they were really good.  I like this box because it actually represented Halloween well.  I know, you're thinking that there isn't much of a difference.  Pumpkin head and bats again at dusk.  True, but that change in expression alters everything!  This pumpkin is angry!  He's evil!  He's mad and he wants you to know it.  That subtle change is the difference between Halloween and Fall.

Obviously Ding Dongs aren't Scary Cakes, but it goes to show how much Hostess has changed their designs over the years.  I don't own this photo and credit goes to whoever scanned it, but I remember seeing this box around 1994.  I was really young, but you don't forget things like this.  Those bats are pretty much the only things that haven't changed.  We have ghosts, we have a change in font, and the logo is colored to better represent the season.  Orange, green, and purple!  I love it!

I believe these Scary Cakes came out the same year as the Ding Dongs and you can tell that the background is similar.  It's a gloomy night and the bats are out in full force.  But, really, just look at this box and tell me it isn't awesome.  I will take 2-D animation/drawings over 3-D any day of the week and I guess it's because of boxes like this.  We have 4 characters pictured.  Top right, we have Frankenstein (who looks very much like Boris Karloff.)  With him, we have a female Vampire.  I'll name her Mrs. Dracula.  Then on the left, we have the Grim Reaper and the Wolf Man.  If that wasn't enough, the Scary Cakes logo is absolutely classic!  It's what reels you in more than anything else.  The contrast between colors mesh so well together and, in all seriousness, it's a masterful work of art.

Finally, I know we just talked about this Munster Pack recently, but it deserves to go here and be seen again.  I highly doubt this was the first Scary Cakes edition released by Hostess, but I could be wrong.  There's only so much I can learn about 20+ year old Cup Cakes from Google.  But, I know these were released in 1992 and, while you may be able to argue that this was also a "sell-out," at least it was Halloween related.  That I can understand and, in fact, actually appreciate.  It's also very simple, but in this case simple is effective.  It's all you need.  As I've said before, the "Munster Pack" logo is unbelievable and I love the way The Munsters are drawn.  Personally, it holds a very special place in my heart for nostalgic reasons.  But in terms of design and comparing it to this year's Scary Cakes box, it crushes the competition.  There's no doubt that the Hostess design team has fallen off the wagon.  They need to up their game!  After you look at the designs of yesteryear, it's actually sad to see how poorly the 2012 box was put together.

Fortunately, the cupcakes themselves are still awesome and, for most people, that's the biggest selling point.  Since I'm such a huge Hallowgeek, I would have liked to see a more orange frosting with traditional brown sprinkles, but that's not this year's theme.  Hostess is obviously going the Fall route and, like it or not, they hit the nail right on the head.  Orange, yellow, brown, and one red sprinkle resemble Fall foliage and the change in season.  The chocolate cake returns along with the the one thing that'll never change -- that cream frosting filling.

I do love the look of these cupcakes and I'm definitely happy to see them return.  While I'm sure many of you enjoyed the Transformers edition, I just don't want to see any of that during the Halloween Holidaze!  I'm all for it during the Spring and Summer.  But at this moment, I'm looking for the spooky feeling, not spooky dressed as transforming robots.  Thankfully, Hostess brought Scary Cakes back and they're just as good as ever.

It's a toss up as to which brand I enjoy more -- Hostess or Tasykake.  They're both really good and very similar in flavor.  Luckily, we don't have to choose!  We can go out and buy both!  We can go out any buy as many as we want and really soak in The Holidaze! 

I know I sounded like a big whiny complainer in this post, and I don't mean to sound like Andy Rooney, but I realllly miss those old boxes.  Those were the best!  I guess I'm a sucker for nostalgia, but I'll roll with the punches and accept whatever we get.  Hey, as long as we're getting something, you know I'm happy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blood Manor

As I've recently said, this year I wanted to make The Holidaze more than just a review site for candy, treats, and movies.  This year, I wanted to get out and take part in as many Haunted Attractions as I can in 31 days.  I absolutely love Haunted Houses and have since I was a young kid.  I used to be scared beyond belief, especially the first time my parents took me and my cousin, but I still craved the excitement each and every year.  In particular, I remember my Dad traveling in the rain to take us to "The Greenhouse of Fear."  I had to be about 10 or 11, but to this day, I don't remember where it was or how far away it was, all I know is that it was awesome, solidified my love for Haunted Houses, and vanished into the night as all good ghost stories do.

Now, for various reasons, I haven't been to a Haunted House in over two years.  2010 and 2011 came and went without a single attraction and that, my friends, is uncalled for.  I grew up on these things, from Haunted Hayrides to Haunted Mazes, these are can't miss traditions!  But, sadly, I did miss out on great times and I was determined to make sure that this didn't happen again.  So, on October 5th, my Girlfriend and I hopped a train to NYC to attend the Opening Night of Blood Manor!

This was a spur of the moment decision, so we didn't get to NY until about 11pm.  Luckily, Blood Manor stayed open until 2am so we had plenty of time.  Before I knew it, I saw the logos, the banners, the line and, out of nowhere, an Axe Wielding Maniac who jumped out from behind a mailbox.  I was not expecting to be startled so soon but, to the crowd's delight, he got me and my girlfriend good!  But no complaints here, that's what I was looking for.  I'm not the type to get scared of somebody in my face.  My gf will freak out for days with a mask in her face and a growl in her ear, but that doesn't affect me anymore.  When I was 10, I would have cried my eyes out, but now, I need to be startled.  I need you to pop out when I least expect it and, when you do, you'll get me and, in my mind, I'll give you credit.  That's what the Axe Wielder did and I was caught completely off guard.  Already this was shaping up to be memorable.

This photo is a bit deceiving.  The line appears to be stretched out to the corner, but the door is actually somewhere in the middle.  There were two options we had presented to us.  We could pay $40 each and hop on the "R.I.P. Line" and cut everybody else in no time.  Or, pay $35, and wait about 40 minutes before heading in.  We decided to pay less and wait.  

The reasoning had nothing to do with money because, really, what's the extra 5 bucks?  In fact, it was more about the entertainment.  We were looking for an experience and for this attraction to last a while.  So, by waiting on line, you're given the opportunity to interact with three "monsters," including the Axe Wielder, watch a special "Circus Freak" act, and enjoy random people being scared by these guys!  That might have been the best part.  There was a bar across the street so the sidewalk was congested with ladies and gents looking to get drunk, not be scared.  Well, too bad, little did they know Blood Manor had something else in mind.  Talk about the unexpected, they literally had no idea.  Moments like that made waiting worth while.

This isn't the best shot, but still one of the Axe Wiledling Maniac.  I don't know what his official name is, but that's what he did and that's what he was, so it fits.  This actor did a great job playing his part.  For as fun as it may be scaring people, you're always going to get the trouble makers and those who think they're part of the show and want to be funny.  In this guy's case, somebody said to AWM "Hey, did you just touch my ass?"  A few people laughed, but most grinned and thought it was a stupid thing to say.  But, this actor looked at him, hissed, and said "Ahhhh, even I wouldn't do that! Gross!" and ran off.  I appreciate the quick response because, honestly, it shows your in good hands.  You're obviously surrounded by actors who want to give you the best experience possible and, little things like that, prove they won't crack any under type of pressure.  Good job, Axe Wielding Maniac, whoever you may be!

Now, even though I don't get "scared" of people in costumes and in my face, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the freakiness of this clown.  He's terrifying!  His mask was some type of doll head/clown face and, at times, he would just hunch over and laugh for a good two minutes.  Sometimes, he did it without any laughter at all.  That was even creepier.  But, the cool part about this guy, is he was there to interact.  For example, I was wearing this shirt..

..and the evil clown came over and spoke to me.  First of all, it was freaky because his mouth would move when he spoke or did some type of chomping motion.  Very nice touch.  But anyway, he comes over and says "Your shirt, who are these guys?"  I reply and he says "Oh yes yes, I used to enjoy a big bowl of Count Dracula cereal and honey when I was a child.  Oh yes, very good very good."  Then he laughed and walked off.  To be honest, I have no idea if he was in character or broke the 4th wall just to comment on my shirt, but it was nice to see the Monster Cereals get attention either way.

As he walked away, my gf got brave all of a sudden.  She snuk up behind him and made a face for the camera.  But one, notice how much space she left between the clown and herself and, two, take a look into her eyes and understand that there is still a great deal of fear in them.  Had this clown known what was going on and turned around, she would have flipped!  Part of me wishes he did because the reaction would have been priceless.  She likes the think that I'm there to protect her in these attractions, but believe me, I'm not.  These Haunted Houses are controlled spooks and the only time I'll let grown men get that close to her without any problems.  If you think I'm not enjoying her being scared, you'd better guess again.  It's hilarious!

The three Monsters surrounding and walking through the line seemed to vary in character.  One was supposed to be a maniac whose sole purpose was to kill you.  The second was supposed to be funny, but way too freaky to spend too much time with.  And the third, this guy, was some type of scary wolf guy.  I actually have no clue as to what he is, but he was very friendly.  When we took this picture, the guy taking it for us said "Get closer, he won't bite."  The actor responded "Yes I will haha."  He was funny, playful, and the least terrifying of the three.  He kinda looks like The Boogeyman, the old WWE superstar, but his teeth make him much better than that!  Pretty cool costume, whatever he's supposed to be.

As we moved closer to the door, the show started and it featured so-called "Circus Freaks."  This guy, dressed in a dress, is known for his stretchy skin, doubt jointed bones and, as pictured, the ability to bring his fingers all the way back to touch the top of his hand.  He was good, but his speaking skills were, in my opinion, far superior to his contortion.  He was able to handle a large crowd, keep them interested, entertained, and help pass the time.

Right before we went into Blood Manor, he asked for an assistant to come help him on stage.  What this girl had to do was stand on another man as he laid down on a bed of nails.  It's something I'm sure we've all seen before and, even if I don't know how it's done, it's impressive.  It certainly received a good crowd reaction and, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

In addition to contortion and nails, there was also fire being thrown around like it was nothing.  I'm always more scared for me in that instance than I am for the performers.  If you drop it and set yourself on fire, that's one thing, just don't lose your grip and fling it into the crowd.  That's more fear than I'm looking for.

Oh, and if you wanted to tip these Circus Freaks, you could!  If you had a $5 bill or more, you could staple it into the skin of any one of these guys or a female that they had as well.  The catch with the girl was that you could staple it into her breasts.  Two guys actually did.  I wonder why they chose to staple the girl over the guys?  Hm.. Well, sorry guys, no pictures!  It was time to go inside!

When you got inside and waited on a smaller line, there was 3D art all over the walls.  The one photo above will have to suffice for any pervs I have reading The Holidaze and missed out on the stapled boob.

Obviously, once I was inside, I couldn't take many pictures.  But I snapped that one above and it doesn't really do the room justice.  As you're waiting, the black lights really illuminate everything around you that you feel like you're in a different world.  Its vibrant, colorful, and spooky.  For a queued line, that's just about all you can ask for.  And it wasn't all naked witches feasting on the blood of their victims, it was a little bit of everything!

We went in with about 5 or 6 other people and I was at the front of the line.  At this point, I had to put my phone away and enjoy the ride.  I wanted to soak up as much as possible because, from what I read, there were so many little details on each set and, if you traveled too fast, you'd miss out.  That definitely wasn't going to happen here.  I wanted to look at everything!

After you're given directions, they send you on your way.  Now, I'm not looking to spoil anything for anybody here, but I'll give you a few of the highlights for me.  First of all, the actors were great.  There were a few that really served no purpose, but for the most part, they did a great job throughout Blood Manor.  There is one stop where you're asked to look at a TV screen and, low and behold, it's you.  Only, it's not the person you remember.  It's who you're going to become as your journey continues.  That was probably my favorite part of the night and I encourage you to see what I'm talking about!

There's one part where it's completely pitch black and you have to find your way through on your own.  When you're at the front of the line, that's easier said than done!  It wasn't just a straight walk through, you have to use your hands and feel your way through.  It's scary because you're literally lost.  But that's the great thing about it!  It's so much fun.. unless you're afraid of the dark!  In that case, good luck! Bwahaha!

Some scenes involved more talking than others and, at one point, I didn't know if I should wait and listen or keep going.  I guess I was supposed to keep walking because the actor, a deranged boyfriend, said "Keep it moving Homebody whatchu looking at?"  That was great!  He was obviously torturing his "lady" and he was letting you know, if you don't keep it moving, you'll be next!  Greatness!

Throughout the rest of Blood Manor, you'll find people begging you to help them.  Actors in your face demanding you stay with them.  Countless jumps and startles.  3D paint that pop better than I've ever seen with the glasses they give you.  And, of course, the detail.  The attention to detail was so amazing that I didn't even have enough time to soak it all in.  I tried!  I held back, let people go in front of me, but the next group caught up and we had to keep it moving for the sake of our own experience.  But from what I saw, damn, it's great.  Everything from TV screens in transition rooms to lights everywhere.  I absolutely loved it.  They created an atmosphere crucial to the Halloween spirit.  Combined with the music, you're looking at one hell of a trip.

There's so much more that I don't want to spoil, but I implore you to go check this out if you have an opportunity.  Blood Manor is definitely one of, if not the, best Haunted Attractions I've ever been to and, if I can, I'll make another trip before this season comes to an end.  If you're interested, check them out at

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