Sexy Pizza Rat vs. Frankenstein

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

When I was a kid, Halloween was simple. All we had to do was be scary, be scared, and get candy.

But then about 20 years ago, society was hit with a tidal wave of global information technology. Although the full impact of Internet on society is yet unknown, the “Sexy Pizza Rat Costume” is clear evidence that Halloween isn’t all about jack-o-lanterns, trick or treating, and horror movies anymore.

A few weeks ago, someone in New York City took a 14 second video of a rat dragging a slice of pizza down some dirty subway stairs, and uploaded it. With 7.7 million views on YouTube, the otherwise unremarkable rat has become a viral sensation., a costume and lingerie company, capitalized on the trend, and have sold out their “Sexy Pizza Rat” Halloween costume for a mere $90 a pop.

Rodents aren’t the only things being made into sexy Halloween costumes these days. Costume companies are adding miniskirts, bustiers, booty shorts and exposed midriffs to costumes resembling Donald Trump, Minions, Cecil the Lion, sock monkeys, Ronald McDonald, the Cat in the Hat, corn cobs, lobsters and goldfish.

In the 1970s, we didn’t have sexy costumes. In fact, most store-bought costumes came in cheap boxed sets, consisting of a 100% polyester sheath that tied in the back like a hospital gown that was supposed to resemble cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Sleeping Beauty or Fred Flintstone.

Made of eggshell-thin plastic, the masks had two round holes to see through and a tiny slit at the mouth. Presumably meant for breathing, the slit wasn’t big enough to allow breath to escape, making Halloween a steamy, uncomfortable affair. The masks would crack with the slightest pressure, and the thin elastic band that went around the head had a working life of about an hour.

As cheap as they were, I always wanted a store-bought costume, but my first-grade-teacher-mother refused to buy them because they required “no creativity.” Instead, we were set adrift with nothing but our resourcefulness and what we could find around the house.

Just like the kids in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, a nice white sheet with two holes cut in it could do the trick. Many of the neighborhood kids dressed up as sheet ghosts for Halloween, but seeing as all our bed sheets had daisies or model Ts printed on them, my brother and I had to get a little more creative.

For a couple of years, I used a grey wig my grandmother had discarded, along with a crocheted shawl and some glasses made out of pipe cleaners, to disguise myself as “an old lady.” Other years I was a hobo, an Indian squaw, or a clown, all made from things lying around the house.

One year, my brother used income from his paper route and a mail order add in the back of his Mad Magazine to score a green rubber “Creature from the Black Lagoon” mask. Even though he wore it with jeans and a sweatshirt, it terrified me because I had recently seen the movie.

My parents had decided that I was old enough to stay up after the Carol Burnett Show on Saturday nights to watch “Chiller Theater,” a weekly double feature of old horror movies. With my brother propped on the couch, and me in a sleeping bag on the floor in front of our console TV, we gazed bug-eyed at classics such as “King Kong vs. Godzilla”, “The Man Who Reclaimed His Head”, “The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism”, and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”.

It’s too bad that nowadays, kids gaze bug-eyed at the sexy costumes that now permeate the Internet, costume shops and department stores. Instead of Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, they see Sexy Pizza Rat and Sexy Big Bird.

In the pre-Internet days, it didn’t matter whether the costumes were of the store bought or homemade variety, Halloween was less about the costumes and more about being scary, or if you were like me, being scared. And like the Clark Bars, Chiclets and popcorn balls on Halloween night, there were plenty of each to go around.



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Comments: 5

  1. lauriebest October 13, 2015 at 10:02 am Reply

    I recall some of the costumes my kids made in the 80s. My youngest fashioned an elephant from grey fabric and a vacuum hose for the trunk. My eldest (in her teens) went as a kidney! Don’t ask…she even had a sheet full of ‘relevant facts’ about the function of the kidney. Strangely (and to her disappointment), not many people asked her to share her carefully researched costume. Happy Hallowe’en!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari October 26, 2015 at 9:50 am Reply

      Yes, Laurie, I did some weird stuff too, like the year I dressed up as “Pond Scum.” All I had were a few trash bags and some olive green face paint, so that’s what I came up with. I thought it was funny, but no one else did. I also dressed as a fork one year, with my two friends dressing as the spoon and knife. We used silver spray paint and long cardboard boxes. Shocker – I was voted class clown in high school!

  2. AFspouse October 13, 2015 at 7:25 am Reply

    So true! When I started reading this, I was nodding along, hearing that voice in my head repeat itself: “the Internet has ruined just about everything.” (Except, of course for our ability to read well written blogs.) Your description of your childhood reminds me of mine, in what I consider to be the best place in the world for a kid to experience Halloween – St. Louis, MO, where kids have to tell a joke to get their candy. The careful crafting and final selection of a joke is arguably more important than the costume. In fact, the tradition (which I’ve not seen anywhere else) was actually written up in the NYT last year. (Yesssss!) I remember wearing the same witch costume three years in a row, with a dress my mom sewed and a wig from the elderly lady next door, fashioning a scepter with a wooden spoon and some foil when I was a queen, and accessorizing some dress up clothes with my mom’s scarves and jewelry and calling myself a gypsy, having spent MONTHS testing different jokes to see what got the best reaction and also where each one fell on the “cool” spectrum. Siiigh…. it’s the innocent stuff of childhood…..

    • Lisa Smith Molinari October 13, 2015 at 9:14 am Reply

      I LOVE the joke telling tradition. In Western PA where I grew up, the tradition was a little more “rural.” We went “corning” on Halloween night. That’s when you throw feed corn at people’s windows. It doesn’t hurt or break anything, but it scares the bejeezus out of them!

      Ah, the good ol’ days…

      • Patrice October 13, 2015 at 9:45 am Reply

        It’s funny, Lisa…I recently drove by a corn field and briefly considered pulling to the side of the road, idling the engine, and running over to see if it was good “Corning” corn! Ah…to be young again!

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