The other day I saw The Kingdom, which features a very significant use of a Tootsie Pop. At first I thought, hey that's some good, functional product placement. Then I thought, hey now I want a Tootsie Pop. Then I thought, hey I should give out Tootsie Pops on Halloween. Then I finally thought, hey I should dress up as Jennifer Garner as "Agent Mayes" when I give out Tootsie Pops, for the added movie connection. But later I realized that nobody would get the reference. So, I thought about some other movie-related candy to hand out on Halloween, and I have paired them up with the recognizable movie character(s) they go with. Because what would be more fun when you have to stay home giving out candy than to dress up in a costume appropriate to the treat you're offering?

1. Wonka Bar

As a kid, I thought the Willy Wonka brand of candies existed prior to the release of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and that Warner Bros. had just worked with the brand as extensive product placement. In a way, the product placement thing was still the case, but actually Willy Wonka was the name of the man and company in Roald Dahl's original book. The brand was founded, by Breaker Confections, which changed its name, in sync with the making of the film in order for some cross-marketing genius. Of course, when Tim Burton's remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, came out, it could definitely be thought of as product placement for the well-established Willy Wonka brand, now owned by Nestlé. And around the same time as the film's release, a new kind of Wonka Bar premiered in the U.S.

It would be a great idea to dress as either the Gene Wilder version of Wonka, or the Johnny Depp version if you must, and hand out the bars to the kids. Personally, I don't like Nestlé chocolate and would prefer to give out Everlasting Gobstoppers. Plus, that candy is better related to the first movie. But I think kids these days would get the point more with the Bars.



2. Reese's Pieces

I think everyone is familiar with the story of Reese's Pieces and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Originally Spielberg had wanted M&Ms in the film, but the candy's manufacturer, Mars, declined. Then, Spielberg contacted Hershey about using Kisses, but the company offered its fairly new Reese's Pieces instead. And the rest is history. The film showcases the product as the specific lure for getting E.T. out of the shed. And the until-then unknown and unpopular candies saw an 80% rise in sales because of the product placement.

I haven't seen a good E.T. costume in a long, long time, but I'm sure you can figure something out, so you can make this one work. And let me know where you live, because Reese's Pieces are my favorite candy, and I'm coming by for some.


3. Star Wars PEZ Dispensers

I know, this isn't really a product placement candy. But growing up I always associated PEZ Dispensers with Star Wars, probably because I grew up with Star Wars, and because they were so popular, they were the kind of Dispenser I sought after most. I think in recent years PEZ made new Star Wars Dispensers, so they should be easier to find now.

The best way to do this would be to hand out Dispensers that all feature the same character's head, and then dress up as that character. But you could also go with more variety. You could also use another kind of movie-related PEZ Dispenser and dress up as that character. I know the upcoming Bee Movie has its own line of PEZ Dispensers. I bet other new movies do, too.


4. Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans

Like the Wonka candies, these are a product that existed in the original Harry Potter books and were later released as a tie-in to the books and the movies. They're made by Jelly Belly and they feature a lot of gross flavors, including vomit and rotten egg. As you can imagine, they didn't sell too well at the concession stand I worked at, even when a Harry Potter movie was playing. But they are a fun novelty, especially when free, so the kids will appreciate getting them in their trick or treat sack. And they'll also enjoy getting handed some by a person dressed as their favorite wizard.


5. Baby Ruth

Bite-size Baby Ruth bars were one of my favorite candies to get on Halloween as a kid, and I always associated the bar with The Goonies, specifically with the character "Sloth". I don't think I've ever seen a person dressed as Sloth for Halloween, but I'm sure there are some big enough Goonies fans out there to have done it. It probably isn't a hard costume to do; just get a lot of that fake skin putty, and a pinhead bald cap. And every time you open the door for trick or treaters make sure to yell "Hey, you guys!" and then offer them a "Ruth! Ruth! Baby! Ruth!"


6. Zagnut

This isn't as obvious a connection as the others, but I often associate Zagnut bars with Beetlejuice. Maybe you remember the one scene where the titular "ghost with the most" lures a fly with one. I think Beetlejuice (or Betelguise, if you will), ends up eating the fly and throwing the candy away, which is certainly the wrong choice. There's also a great use of Zagnut in 48 Hrs., but I don't think anyone would understand if you tried dressing up as Nick Nolte. And I don't think it would be appropriate to yell "Here's your goddamn dinner!" at any trick or treaters.

7. M&M's Pirate Pearls

Another non-product placement candy. These are a limited edition, white chocolate type of M&Ms that were sold as a movie tie-in for The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I know they're kind of old now, but I do occasionally see them in stores around my neck of the woods, so they can still be found. And the Captain Jack Sparrow costume is still very popular, so I think this would be a great pair-up for the kids. Or if you want to go with older -- possibly expired -- limited edition candy, and you prefer to dress up as a Star Wars character (and don't like PEZ) then you can attempt to locate the dark chocolate M&Ms that came out in conjunction with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Next year another limited edition M&M, this one a mint crisp flavor or something, will be out as a tie-in for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So think about going as Indy for next Halloween. There will also be a Snickers Adventure Bar -- with chai and coconut -- that will be suitable for that costume. As for other tie-ins that will make for appropriate costumes, there will be Bat-shaped Reese's Cups and Bat-signal-shaped Kit Kats for The Dark Knight and new Airheads flavors out for both The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Incredible Hulk, just as they recently were for Cars. So be thinking about Halloween 2008 during next summer's blockbusters.