Count Chocula = Impossible to Buy in South Carolina. HALLOWEEN IS CANCELED.

Count Chocula is, needless to say, embroiled in a centuries-old feud with that shirtless werewolf cereal.

GateHouse — I have discovered two equally displeasing things about Halloween this year.

1. The neighbor down the road, the one on the corner at Sundew Court, which is like the least-evil name ever (she might as well live at Dew Drop Hug Soup Emotionally Supportive Boulevard) has produced a front-yard Halloween display of such breadth and creativity that frankly my fake tombstones (“Here Lies Doug M. Upp” — ka POW), cheesy blinking “Great Pumpkin” Linus and assortment of artfully sliced-up pumpkins looks like a cruel failure by comparison. The neighbor’s display occupies probably 2,500 square feet, likely required several meetings with the power company, includes what I’m sure were Army-sized rations of that cobwebby cotton stuff and is making the rest of us aspiring warlocks feel SUPER INADEQUATE. Thanks, Sundew Court. See if I include you in the next block party volleyball game.

2. The second, and obviously more important problem: I cannot buy Count Chocula anywhere remotely near my house, and/or Sundew Court.

I don’t want to minimize anyone’s problems. I know times are hard for everyone. Your boss is slicing back your hours and your bank is being a jerk, but frankly my problem is worse than any of yours multiplied by a fafillion, because none of you have, in the past week, driven around for a full afternoon stopping at five grocery stores in the futile hunt for a fictitious cocoa-based vampire who apparently IS NOT FOR SALE IN SOUTH CAROLINA, due to, I am sure, something Rush Limbaugh said once.

So here’s how we I got here: The Boy was treated to Count Chocula as a post-homework snack at his friend’s house, so logically he awoke the next morning politely asking for a bowl (and by that I mean he stumbled down the stairs with a look of barely-awake cobweb-brained delirium, laid his head on the kitchen table and mumbled something about “Cow Chuckington,” but I think the message was clear).

We didn’t have The Count in the house, I replied sadly, with the little pang of nostalgia you get when your child reveals himself to be interested in something you enjoyed at that age, be it a game or a sport or a song or a brand of cigarette or a breakfast option. But, I promised, we’d buy some the next day.



Well, apparently this was an impossible promise, because I’ve literally never had a less fruitful grocery-based experience in my life. By the third store my little man was getting noticeably apprehensive, as though bracing himself for near-assured letdown like a Chicago sports fan. My son has a gift for the dramatic, so when I returned from that third mission a failure (albeit a failure who had thought to purchase what he believed to be a fair, equitable compromise involving Cocoa Puffs), he came exceedingly close to bursting into real tears, conveniently leading to a thoughtful discussion from Dad about what does and does not constitute a Real Problem. It’s a spectacularly effective parenting technique you can try at home with your kids. Here, give it a shot. If the problem at hand involves an undead cereal-themed ghoul, IT IS NOT A REAL PROBLEM.


Related, sort of


(Needless to say, also missing were Franken Berry and Boo Berry. I had always imagined Count Chocula to be the ruler of that little group — he’d never been formally appointed, it was just sort of accepted by the others — so it stood to reason that with the Count out of the picture, there was no hope for Franken or Boo to be around. And indeed, the monstrilicious part of the cereal aisle was desolate, abandoned like a “Scooby-Doo” town, replaced with countless boxes that all had the word “FIBER” on them in large, insistent type and over-dramatized starburst callouts about the alarming wealth of vitamins and minerals stuffed, literally stuffed, into each box. It was horrifying. I needed my chocolate vampire.)

But sadly, this is kind of where the story ends, with no warm-hearted, redemptive finale, only a disappointed six-year-old and a 35-year-old man angry at a cereal company and a cartoon. I don’t get it. It’s not like Count Chocula is a rare synthetic lab-borne super-element that can only exist for quarter-seconds at a time. Unless it is, in which case I am totally using it in my Halloween yard decorations next year.




About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

30 responses to “Count Chocula = Impossible to Buy in South Carolina. HALLOWEEN IS CANCELED.

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