Plague Doctors, Tiger Kings, and Clowns, Oh My: These Are Spirit Halloween’s Hottest Costumes of 2020

Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Ever since Spirit Halloween began setting up shop in shuttered retail stores during the 1980s, the seasonal chain has been the beloved playground of cosplayers and Halloween lovers across the nation. And while people are steering clear of crowded costume parties this year, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dressing up. We spoke to Spirit Halloween about which new getups are flying off the shelves, which ones never go out of style, and how you can celebrate spooky season safely.

Historians don’t have firm evidence that physicians actually wore beaked masks to prevent the spread of the plague throughout the 14th century (some believe they weren’t even invented until the 16th century), but that hasn’t stopped shoppers from nabbing “plague doctor” costumes as a nod to the current pandemic. Bright yellow hazmat suits are also especially popular this year. Group costumes, on the other hand, are “moving slower,” Spirit Halloween tells Mental Floss, since partygoers are planning to celebrate in smaller, spaced-out (or virtual) circles.

The doctor is in.Spirit Halloween

Other sought-after ensembles reveal what parts of pop culture are reigning over our collective consciousness. You can probably plan on seeing at least a few Joe Exotic lookalikes out and about; Spirit Halloween says its Tiger King-inspired “mullet man” outfit—complete with a blond wig, a lurid tiger-striped shirt, a mustache, and even a clip-on eyebrow ring—is all the rage. Life-sized cans of spiked seawater might be wandering the streets, too: the “White Clam” costume is another new bestseller (though its “natural slime” flavor sounds less refreshing than White Claw’s “natural lime”).

It could be any mullet man, but it sure looks like Joe Exotic.Spirit Halloween

If kids spent extra time inside playing video games this year, it could help explain why so many are eager to emulate their favorite characters. “[Fortnite] is at the head of the pack in this year’s popularity contest with Drift leading the charge,” Spirit Halloween says, but fellow Fortnite character Fishstick is “running a close second.”

And dressing up like a nightmare-inducing horror villain simply never seems to fall out of fashion. According to Spirit Halloween, “scary clowns are always popular,” as are A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, and Child’s Play’s Chucky.

That said, not everybody wants to scare their friends out of their skin—some are just looking to make them laugh. “That's why we can't blow up our inflatable costumes fast enough,” Spirit Halloween explains. “If you see a giant toilet bowl or SpongeBob on your next Zoom call, you can blame us. We don't mind.”

Anybody who wears this is the opposite of a party pooper.Spirit Halloween

Virtual parties are just one way that revelers are planning to flaunt their Spirit Halloween spoils. Though people have always used social media to showcase their costumes from afar, it’s become an especially important method of celebrating with friends and family (and the broader online community) this holiday season.

“This year, TikTok is exploding with Spirit Halloween fans showing off their ‘unironic Spirit shopping hauls,’ creating hot new looks and dances in colorful pageboy wigs, and turning astronaut helmets into their favorite cosplay items,” Spirit Halloween says.

If you are headed to an in-person gathering, on the other hand, the company has added plenty of new Halloween-themed face masks to keep things germ-free. For trick-or-treaters, they recommend going door to door with a “Loot Scoop” treat bag, which features a long handle that’ll help you maintain social distance and avoid hand-to-hand contact.

Before you step out, here’s what else you should know about celebrating safely.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

A Short, Sweet History of Candy Corn

Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Depending on which survey you happen to be looking at, candy corn is either the best or the worst Halloween candy ever created. If that proves anything, it’s that the tricolor treat is extremely polarizing. But whether you consider candy corn a confectionery abomination or the sweetest part of the spooky season, you can’t deny that it’s an integral part of the holiday—and it’s been around for nearly 150 years.

On this episode of Food History, Mental Floss’s Justin Dodd is tracing candy corn’s long, storied existence all the way back to the 1880s, when confectioner George Renninger started molding buttercream into different shapes—including corn kernels, which he tossed at actual chickens to see if it would fool them. His white-, orange-, and yellow-striped snack eventually caught the attention of Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly), which started mass-producing what was then sometimes called “chicken feed” rather than “candy corn.”

But what exactly is candy corn? Why do we associate it with Halloween? And will it ever disappear? Find answers to these questions and more in the video below.

For more fascinating food history and other videos, subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel here.