Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Spooky Cuteness Overload at Petco

Oh gosh, is it seriously August FIFTEENTH and I only have six Halloween articles up? Where did the time go!? We're knee deep in Halloween and I've been completely slacking off. Sure, I've had more real-life things to do than I probably ever have in any other month of my life and I've been working on half a dozen other projects, but if I can't bring you the equivalent of a Halloween post at least every other day, what good am I!?

So, here's some stuff that goes in dog mouths. Enjoy!

Pumpkinstein's Monsters

For those of you new to this, I've long considered pet toys to be the most under-appreciated treasure trove of Halloween goodness. Every single year, stores like Petco and Petsmart release a slew of positively adorable plush skeletons, vinyl ghosts and other gothic goodies that nobody seems to recognize as human-worthy collectibles simply because you're supposed to let animals drool on them.

But look at these things. Are you really too good to own pumpkin-headed ragdoll ghosts with bolts in their heads? Are you really? Less interesting plush toys are marketed to humans all the damn time. These almost have the simplified cutesiness of those "pop!" vinyl toys, but without all that icky geek culture all over them.

Halloween "Flatties"

And then there's these things, with flat, tough burlap-like bodies and holy god they're cute. Look at that skeleton. Look at those innocent eyes. That demure little skull. I simply could not leave without that little face, and I didn't.

Squeaky Skeleton

This larger, less flat but still pretty flat skeleton isn't as sweet and innocent, but still adorable in its own way, kind of flatter skeleton's bigger, wiser brother. Flatter skeleton is only a baby, and needs less-flat skeleton to guide it through life, teach it bone puns, show it the ropes of getting gnawed on by dogs. It's okay. They like it.

Bubble Body Monsters

Unfortunately, less-flat skeleton sometimes hangs out with monobrow frankenstoid, a bad influence who only ever wants to tear up the neighborhood wearing light-up rubber torso spheres. This is something delinquent undead get mixed up in when their parents trust them to watch their baby siblings. Less flat skeleton is in for a hard lesson, but monobrow frankenstoid will probably never learn. Just look at that scheming, criminal gleam in his eyes. He's not fooling anybody.

Impossibly Cute Pumpkin

Uuuuugh, can you handle this pumpkin's sweet, pleading face and little fangly smile? You're really going to let something chew on this little guy? I guess he might like it too. These are dead ghouls and monsters we're talking about, after all. I'm not even sure a pumpkin ever COULD be cuter than this one, though, except-

A Cuter Pumpkin than That One

No. Way. How does this one manage to look even more pitiful than its twin? Its head is more bulbous, its tiny smile even tinier, its single tooth snagglier. They are killing me with these designs. What are these doing in a dog toy aisle and not on a Nick Junior cartoon for preschoolers.

Happy Scarecrow

Seriously, stop it. I am going to die looking at this scarecrow's watery eyes and its little mitten hand and the little red heart it probably stole from the living because they were mean to it when they thought it was still just an inanimate object. They got what they deserved.

"Girl Ghost"

Phew, that was close. This is more on the "goofy" cartoon side than the heart-wrenching-angel-baby side, and I'm not sure how much more of that I could have taken. Most Halloween ghosts have little in the way of individuality, but this is labeled as a "girl ghost" and exhibits its girlness, I guess, by wearing a candy corn bow and having a little red heart she probably stole from the living because they laughed at her candy corn bow. They got what they deserved.


A non-girl ghost, on the other hand, just goes by "ghost," and is designated by the same exact bow being worn as a tie. Also, vampire fangs. I'm not sure these are authentic ghostly gender norms or not, but I always appreciate a ghost with sharp teeth.

Gourd Dogs

I almost wasn't sure what I was looking at for a second here, but this really goes to show the great character designs you can find in the most unexpected places. I doubt a whole lot of thought went into the anatomy of these things, but what you end up with is a giant long Jack O' Lantern with little black feet and a living dog's head on top. No other appendages. No apparent means of locomotion without just waddling around like a ridiculous pumpkin-dog-penguin. Majestic.

This sure is a lot of cute stuff, Petco. What else is cute???



Yeah, that's this thing's name. It still has the "BOOTIQUE" label on it, so it's not just a "fall harvest" toy. This is a Halloween-specific character, actually described on petco.com as "a sneaky spook disguised in a corn husk."

Mister Candy Corn wouldn't be half as disturbing if not for his smile. It would be a purely innocent smile if not for those eyes, intent and purposeful about something clearly not okay. Nothing wholesome can possibly come of a spirit pretending to be corn. Nothing wholesome ever comes from corn in any context.

I'm not really sure I know what to make of all this and I'm not really sure I want to. I think we're all better off not knowing who Mister Candy Corn is and what machinations Mister Candy Corn finds so darkly amusing.