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80s life

Kelly Manno explains the '80s "garbage bag" costume.

In 2023, Americans are expected to spend more than $12 billion on Halloween and more say they will participate in the holiday than ever before. While it may seem like Americans have always gone all out during the spooky season, things used to be simpler.

Anyone who is a Gen Xer will remember that, for most kids, Halloween meant going to the local drug store and picking a vinyl Halloween costume off the rack that cost $3. For that, you got a vinyl jumpsuit that smelled like paint and a plastic mask held on by a string, and you loved it.

TikTok’s unofficial Gen X ambassador, Kelly Manno, remembered those good times in a recently posted video with over 4 million views. She shared what it was like to go trick-or-treating in a "garbage bag" costume with little ventilation that made a “woosh-woosh” sound when you walked.

“The eye holes in those masks never lined up with your actual eyes. We would push our tongue through the slit in the mask. We'd cut our tongue, but then we'd keep doing it again because we were, like, eating it up with, like, OCD and ADD, and nobody cared,” she joked.

She also noted that the costumes weren’t all that safe.


In the 70s and 80s we trick or treated in garbage bags. We couldnt see out our masks, or breathe, but that didnt matter. It was the best night ever. #genx #oldermillennial #xennial #halloween #nostalgia #80skid #feralchildren #90skid #kellymanno

“Our parents took about three or four pictures of us a year, and Halloween was always one of them,” Manno explained. “You knew before you went out trick-or-treating, you had to line up with your cousins in front of the fireplace in your highly flammable costume with your mom, chain-smoking Virginia Slims like, ‘Say trick-or-treat!’”

The most popular manufacturer of these vinyl costumes from the ‘60s to the ‘80s was Ben Cooper. Sadly, after people began to demand higher-quality costumes in the late ‘80s and adults started to join in the fun, it couldn't get with the times and was purchased by Rubie's Costume Co., which dissolved the company.