Haunting Halloween Costume History

A Haunting Look at Old Halloween Costumes

By Buck Wolf

Oct. 22, 2003 --   — Arnold Schwarzenegger has a scary new role: He's haunting costume suppliers who can't scare up a mask of the California governor-elect in time for Halloween.

"We weren't prepared for the California recall election. You just can't find an Arnold mask," says John Majdoch of Halloween Express, a wholesale distributor.

"When Arnold was purely a movie star, you couldn't turn him into a costume without a licensing agreement," Majdoch says.

"Now that the Terminator is a politician, he's a public figure and in many respects, he's much more in the public domain. There's a reason Halloween and Election Day are so close together. To some people, they're equally scary."

Schwarzenegger might rightly feel the demand for masks of his mug is a boost to his political fortunes. Costume suppliers say Halloween mask sales have accurately determined every election since Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980.

"We've still got Gore masks. They're not exactly a big seller these days," says Diana Krohn of "Bush masks still sell pretty well."

"We had Bush slightly ahead of Gore in terms of mask sales on the Halloween just days before the controversial 2000 election, even in Florida," says Majdoch.

"Too bad nobody asked us before the big recount." The Hulk Set to Clobber Spidey

This year, expect pirates, princesses, gangsters and elves to show up at your door for treats. Old favorites are making a return, thanks in part to the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings and Chicago.

Some big sellers from last year are still going strong, including Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and Harry Potter. It's not easy to predict demand. Still, Halloween experts say one thing always holds true — nobody wants to wear the same outfit two years in a row.

"You can always count on superheroes. But I think the Hulk is going to prove more popular than Spider-Man," says Peter Blum of Abracadabra costume store in Manhattan.