“Halloween in a Box” tells the story of plastic costumes of yore


Before the days of elaborate Halloween costumes, there were costumes in a box. Remember them? We seemingly all wore these costumes as kids. Now hear the story behind these costumes and the history of the big three companies that made them, Ben Cooper Inc, Halco, and Collegeville. For years, these costumes were a beloved Halloween institution dating back in the 1930s.

In 1982 at the height of their popularity, the first case of domestic terrorism, the Tylenol Scare shook the United States and threatened to cancel Halloween forever. In an effort to save the holiday, the costume giants, although rivals in business, were forced to come together and unify or trick or treating would become extinct.

I fondly remember those plastic masks as a kid. We all looked forward to going to our local Zellers and picking one out. But, because they had to fit over our winter clothes in the cold of a late fall in Nova Scotia, they all had to be extra-large sizes. My favourite was my Incredible Hulk mask. AT 6 feet tall and 12 years old, it fit me perfectly.