I swear I’m starting to get a little crazier every year now.  The beginning of September rolls around and I tell myself I’m not going to start getting all antsy for the Halloween festivities.  There are two full months before the actual holiday and a solid 30 days before I start belting out my annual Halloweeny posts at Branded.  I keep telling myself that and then I walk into a Target looking for some pistachios and I find some new Halloween candy that I can’t ignore.  If it’s just been the seasonal wrapping on some packages of M&M’s I would have walked right past them.  Even a candy combo bag with Frankenstein’s monster peering at me wouldn’t have been enough to break my icy patient exterior of waiting-on-the-season sternness.  I don’t want to turn into one of those retail zombies that starts shopping for Christmas wrapping paper on Black Friday.   I’m supposed to rally against big box giants pushing holiday merchandise on me three months in advance.   Halloween is for October damnit!  Sigh.  Here I am though.   It’s Sept. 5th and I’ve officially started my season off by picking up some great packages of candy that were just daring me to buy them, take them home, unwrap them, photograph them, and taste test them…

I suppose I should start with something old.  My favorite Halloween candy from the past two years has to be the genius Ghost Dots from Tootsie.  When I first saw these in 2007 I couldn’t believe just how perfect this variation on your standard Dots candy seemed.   It’s so simple, and yet so intriguing.  They started with the run of the mill mystery flavor gimmick, removing the typical colors (but keeping the original flavors) and going with a monochromatic scheme.  The first inspired stroke of genius was choosing the glow-in-the-dark pale minty and slightly translucent green evoking all sorts of ectoplasmic ecstasy.  Then it must have been clear to call them Ghost dots as they’re already iconicly shaped (just a jagged trim along the bottom short of being the perfect Pac-Man ghosts.)  It’s just so freaking simple and pure…

There were no new additions to the spectral Dots family last year, but this year the guys and gals at Tootsie surprised me by introducing two new varieties.  The first one I’d like to showcase is better, both design and taste-wise, of the new duo (though it doesn’t quite trump the awesomeness of the Ghost Dots.)  Blood Orange flavored Bat Dots…

Though visually these aren’t as interesting as the Ghost Dots, I have to say that I’m digging the inky black little guys.   I’m not a big fan of the licorice flavored gummi candies, but I’ve always thought black candy just looked cool.  Hell, everything looks so much better in black.  I’m sort of lamenting the fact that Tootsie chose to stick with the classic shape for the candy.  I think these are screaming out for bat wings, though I’m sure it would have been cost prohibitive for a seasonal confection…

As for the taste, these guys aren’t half bad.  They strike a nice balance between sweet and tart with a good hint of citrus, though I’m not sure how accurate the blood orange flavor is.  I’m pretty sure they chose to utilize the creepy nomenclature specifically to evoke the holiday, but this opens up another area where these candies could have become legendary.  Though classic Dots (as well as the Ghost variety) are individually comprised of a single color, the other new entry into the Dots family this year introduced a dual-colored Dot.  Since the technology already apparently exists, I think the Bat Dots should have utilized this and had transparent red tops or bottoms.  It would have just had that extra bit of fun.  These are hardly a failure though…

Anyway, the other new variety is another in a long line of candy corn influenced sweetness.   I’ve written about my feelings towards the uber sweet tri-colored kernels before, and I have to say that I’m really not a fan of candy that tries to disguise itself as the classic Halloween staple if for no other reason than the flavors end up tasting way too much like cotton candy (which I despise, at least flavor-wise.)

I have to give this variety points for looking pretty cool, but it pretty much ends there.  The first CC Dot I popped into my mouth wasn’t bad.  It had a mellow flavor more along the lines of caramel or sweet cream.  The second was just too sweet.  The 3rd, 4th, and 5th just tasted like chemicals, and the rest will probably find a home in the trash.

One out of two isn’t bad though, and adding Bat Dots to the family portrait with the Ghost Dots gets me excited for future installments.   I’m personally holding out for Witch’s Warts Dots, all white Ghost Dots II in a new flavor, and Silver Bullet Dots (you know, for killing gummi werewolves.)

While I’m on the subject of Halloween, I might as well take this opportunity to announce a new website called Countdown to Halloween!

Basically, over the last three years I’ve noticed an amazing trend in some spooktactular holiday spirit when it comes to the celebration of all things Halloween.  There have certainly been those (like Matt at x-entertainment.com) that have been spreading the good word for awhile, and there are a plethora of wonderful sites out there dedicated to making every day of the year a little bit more orange and black, but in the last few years there has been a surge in fiendish fun around the month of October that really gets this dried up and dusty ticker of my beating again.  In particular, in the past two years there has appeared a list, usually cobbled together by a couple of swell guys John Rozum and John Knutson, that gets passed around from site to site and really makes the whole experience fun and exciting.  For one, it provides a virtual vault of horror, a crypt of terror, a, um (well geez, I guess EC Comics should have come up with another great title for me to lift from), oh wait I know, a tomb of dread, a virtual cornucopia of amazing stories, photos, comics, reviews, crafts, toys, songs, radio plays, jokes, and general commentary on a holiday that a lot of us hold dear.  This list also serves as a centerpiece for a spur of the moment community, a virtual meeting place, and the type of communal experience where the internet is the perfect forum.

Countdown to Halloween is a home for this list.  Note, it’s not the home.  Part of what makes this season of creepy blog-a-thons so special is that there is no expectation, no rules or guidelines, but at the same I think it would also be beneficial to have a place to point to, a hub.  This isn’t a union; it’s intended as a resource.

So if you’re planning on another year of terror inducing blogging during the Halloween season, or if this is your first time trick-or-treating alone, feel free to let your intentions be known.  You can either comment at the Countdown to Halloween site, add your voice to the comments on Mr. Rozum’s blog, or you can @tweet or follow Halloween_Blogs, on twitter.

As for my plans for this season, well, I’ll announce those as we get a little closer to October…