McDonald's Halloween pails, aka Boo Buckets, are back for spooky season. The Halloween-themed buckets are available at participating McDonald's across the US through Oct. 31 or until supplies run out. Here's what to know.
What are McDonald's Halloween Boo Buckets?
Back in 1986, McDonald's started offering its Happy Meal kids meal in cute little Halloween-themed buckets, which can double as a kid's trick-or-treat pail -- if they're not out for maximum candy, that is. Happy Meals usually come in cardboard boxes shaped kind of like little houses, so the buckets were a spook-tacular treat. The restaurant chain brought them back for Halloween 2022, and social media was buzzing for weeks in the lead up to the nostalgic release.
Read more: I Give McDonald's Boo Buckets a Solid B+
How can I get a McDonald's Halloween Boo Bucket?
Order at the restaurant or via the McDonald's app. You can choose from a Chicken McNuggets entree (four or six pieces) or a hamburger or cheeseburger, and the meal comes with fries, apple slices (or extra fries instead) and a drink. Note that your restaurant will likely only have one bucket color at a time, so to collect all three varieties (green, white and orange), you may need to make multiple visits a few days or week apart.
What do the 2022 Halloween Boo Buckets look like?
McDonald's is offering three different colors -- the white ghost, orange pumpkin and green witch, aka McBoo, McPunk'n and McGoblin. One notable difference from past years: They don't really have tops. There's a raised decoration spanning one side of the handle to the other -- a witch's hat for McGoblin, a pumpkin top for McPunk'n, and a white pumpkin top for McBoo. But the bucket itself is topped with just a piece of paper, featuring Halloween stickers -- there's no full plastic lid.
How much are the Halloween Boo Buckets?
Prices vary by restaurant, but at my local McDonald's, Happy Meals cost between $5 and $7. The bucket (and sticker sheet) replaces the toy that normally comes with the Happy Meal, so there's no extra charge for it. McDonald's new adult Happy Meals do come with toys -- classic McDonald's figures, plus one new creation, that all have four eyes.
Will Halloween Boo Buckets sell out?
Be warned: The Boo Buckets have received so much advance press they're likely to sell quickly. There are likely to be collectors angling to get all three colors, which could mess with restaurant inventory. They're available through Halloween, or while supplies last.
What did the original McDonald's Halloween buckets look like?
The three original designs were all orange, and had the same names McDonald's is reusing in 2022: McPunk'n, McBoo and McGoblin. All looked like jack-o-lanterns, just with different faces. McPunk'n looks happy, McBoo looks slightly startled, and McGoblin looks... sleepy, but he's probably supposed to look scary.
Ghost and witch McDonald's Halloween buckets
A few years later, McDonald's added the white ghost and green witch designs. They all looked pretty happy, even the supposedly spooky witch. Here they are in an ad from 1990. Back then, the ghost bucket glowed in the dark, but as noted above, my 2022 ghost buckets didn't. (Don't think too much about how the Chicken McNuggets in the commercial are busying themselves making sauce, presumably to be used in their own consumption.)
When did McDonald's stop making Halloween buckets?
Nightmare Nostalgia has a wonderful timeline of the history, if you really want to delve into a fast-food chain's promotional past. (Not knocking you if you do, because I am one of you.) Some of the bigger changes involved a switch to vinyl glow-in-the-dark trick-or-treat bags, called McBoo Bags. In 1992, the buckets were redesigned to include cookie cutters that popped off the top. That had to be a high-water mark for McDonald's Halloween bucket creativity. Hope somebody got a raise that year.
After that, the pails kept being tweaked, and finally vanished in 2016, going out with an It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, design.
Unreleased Halloween buckets we'll never see
According to YouTuber Consumer Time Capsule, there were six proposed Halloween buckets that were never released, including this purr-fect black cat. Whoa, we missed out on some pop-culture goodness here. There's also a wonderful McMummy.