1. What’s Bueno: Retro Mouse Pads!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Saw this awesome designer mouse pad at the 99¢ Only store the other day for — yes! — 99¢ only.

    Oh, don’t let the hang tag [industry term] fool you!  It says “Mouse Pads,” plural, but there’s only one to a package!  No matter — I don’t need to tell you that even sold singly, this thing is a delight!


    Like you, it’s making me nostalgic for 2014, when the calendar might have been useful, and even more nostalgic for some years before that, when we still used mouse pads!

    Posted by on June 27, 2015, 7:35 PM.

  2. ¿What’s Bueno? Corn Skewer! Set of Three!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    With summer right around the corner and all, backyard barbecue time will be here before you know it, and what cookout would be complete without delicious ears of corn on the cob?

    But how to hold ’em (and enjoy ’em) without getting our fingers all buttery and messy?

    Lucky for you, and now me, the 99¢ Only Store’s got us covered when it comes to corn skewers!

    Look!  Look!  It’s a set of 3!


    Like you, I can’t wait until fall rolls around to see what they offer in the way of nutcrackers!

    Posted by on May 14, 2015, 10:49 AM.

  3. ¿What’s Bueno? ¡Las Vegas Edition!


    AS REGULAR readers of this blog know, I was in Las Vegas a few days ago, and you know what they say: “What happens in Vegas is you go to the 99¢ Only store.”

    Now this brings up an interesting (to me) issue — one that I’d been meaning to share with you, the reader, for quite some time, so that you, too (the reader), will find it interesting.

    And what that is, is that not all 99¢ Only stores are created equal. Or stocked equal. Like you, I’ll go to that one on Ventura in Woodland Hills (the one that always has customers bringing their dogs inside, you know, after they and their pets have managed to negotiate around whatever cadre of solicitors from dubious “charitable” organizations are hovering right outside the door)…


    …and I’ll find delicious, high-quality, name brand wieners — delicious, high-quality, name brand wieners that I don’t find at other locations.

    Or, I’ll head over to that one in Simi Valley and find a nourishing breakfast entree, like this…


    …that I wouldn’t look twice at in a grocery store, but since I assume it goes for like ten bucks there, I feel compelled to pick it up here for 99¢ only just because it’s a good deal. Update: I did a little research (which is what I do here for you, what, six readers), and it turns out they sell for an astronomical $2.00 at Walmart. That’s more than double 99¢ Only’s low, low price. Let me break it down for you: By purchasing this at 99¢ Only I saved a whopping 99¢ only plus another two cents. And for the record, I still assume they go for more at one of your so-called “super” markets, so even though it’s sat in my freezer for the last month and I have little interest in eating it, experts will tell you: buying this was a shrewd move on my part.

    And don’t even get me started on that 99¢ Only location in Van Nuys! Oh, I don’t have to tell you – I’m sure you know as well as I do: Filthy toilet of a neighborhood, true!, and yet, the most amazing items specific to that particular store! Example? Oh, how about delicious Nabisco Mallomars…


    …by the God-blessed palletful! Oh yes. And there were two displays of them, each piled high as you please! As big as a man, they were! A large square man, it would seem. Let me tell you — in your wildest dreams you cannot imagine the marvelous surprises that await you at the Van Nuys store. So do me a favor, pal, and stay away — I kind of like to be the only one of us who finds the neat-o deals. You understand.

    Anyway, the point is, you go to different 99¢ Only stores, you’re going to find different products, sometimes! So I had high hopes for the Las Vegas location I visited. High hopes indeed!

    Here’s what I found there:


    And that was about it. Bleah.

    Oh, this Nevada 99¢ Only had all the usual stuff that all their Southern California brothers carried, but aside from these boxes of unsold-store-stock-from-last-October Limited Edition Pebbles cereal, there was nothing I saw that was unique to this location.

    We’ve talked about the Pebbles family of cereals before, haven’t we? Ah yes, here and here.

    And what I find fascinating, and now you do, too, is that without the adjectives “Cocoa” or “Fruity” in front of it, “Pebbles” — which on the original two varieties described the size and shape of the cereal itself — now seems to specifically reference the Flintstones’ baby girl, featured prominently on the box, much like Dora is on Dora the Explorer cereal, or Spongebob on Spongebob Squarepants cereal.  But unlike Dora or Spongebob, no one under the age of thirty has any idea who the hell Pebbles Flintstone is.

    That’s kind of interesting, right? Sure.

    Anyway, most of the cereal blogs out there, when they’re updated at all, offer very little coverage in the way of your seasonal offerings, so as a public service to you, the cereal eating public, I bought a box for 99¢ only and will now review it for you:


    Post Limited Edition Pebbles Candy Corn Flavor Cereal


    Name of cereal: Post Limited Edition Pebbles Candy Corn Flavor Cereal
    Manufacturer: Post
    Longterm Availability: Limited Edition
    Cereal shape: Pebbles
    Flavor: Candy Corn Flavor
    Type of breakfast food: Cereal
    Found at: 99¢ Only store
    Price Paid: 99¢ only


    Prominence of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm on box: 9.5
    Current pop cultural relevance of featured characters: 1.25 (I love “The Flintstones.” Believe me, I hated to have to give this such a low score. I’ll do what I can to make it up elsewhere and bring its overall grade back up.)
    Detail of cereal pieces enlarged to show texture on box front: 9.75
    Balance of orange, yellow and whitish cereal pieces: 9.75
    Uniqueness of seasonal cereal theme (Halloween): 9.75

    Okay, that should even things out, right?

    Unfortunately, no. Because here are the problems:

    • There was no prize inside. Back when I was a kid, it was the law: your cereal was federally mandated to come with a prize inside. Here’s my vintage Cap’n Crunch regulation-size soccer ball that was included in specially marked boxes of Cap’n Crunch back in 1972:


    Fascinatingly, not only does it depict the Captain as he’d look after numerous redesigns forty years in the future, it was also shipped in the boxes fully inflated, which tended to crush the cereal into powder (which somehow still cut the roof of your mouth!) and made the boxes bloated, misshapen, distended…and impossible to keep from rolling off the shelves. Thus they were only in the stores for a few days before they were recalled, making this perhaps the rarest of Cap’n Crunch IBPs. (In-Box Prizes. Industry term.) Still, as prizes go, it’s one of my favorites. My point is, you want my seal of approval on your cereal, you better give me a decent prize.


    • Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm dressed as a Wiccan and a vampire? The whole concept behind the cereal doesn’t make any sense! We’re supposed to believe these characters lived thousands of years ago, in the stone age, and somehow they’re celebrating Halloween, i.e, the birth of Christ, millennia before Jesus himself went trick-or-treating in Nazareth (but only at the homes of people who left their porch lights on and didn’t mark their doors with lambs’ blood, if I recall my Sunday School lessons correctly).


    • The back of the box features a photo of Halloween snacks and a recipe. What’s going on here? I’m expecting some delightfully garish and off-model illustrations of the gang from Bedrock challenging me to, I dunno, probably a maze constructed by palm trees, boulders and brontosaurus necks — and instead I’ve got an overly complicated 14-ingredient, 13-step set of directions to make something called “Whoopie Pies” (which by the way no one ever heard of two years ago but is now one of those trendy foods that’s all over your precious “Pinterest.”).

    And finally — and there are those who might suggest this is the most important:


    • It don’t taste nothing like candy corn. It’s just…sweet. It tastes sort of familiar, like some other cereal, but I can’t quite put my finger (or tongue) on it. (I can put my finger on my tongue, and I frequently do, but given how infrequently I wash my hands, this probably accounts for all my canker sores. …Which now that I think of it, might explain how little I was able to discern any kind of candy corn taste. So take this last critique of the cereal with a grain of salt. No, please, take it. I have no need for a grain of salt that’ll just further irritate my cankered tongue.)

    Bottom line, the only way this stuff is bueno is if, 30 years from now, I unpack the carefully preserved package from my stockpile of old cereal boxes and list it on whatever eBay-like auction site exists then and sell it for a ton of cash. And for that to happen, I need for everyone else who saved their Halloween Pebbles boxes for eventual re-sale as collectibles to perish in some sort of cataclysmic event that fortuitously spares everyone who collects old food packaging but needs this particular box. Could happen. In fact, my entire retirement plan counts on it.

    Anyway, while 99¢ Only in Las Vegas didn’t hold a lot of wonderful surprises for me, at least they had 7-pound bags of ice for 99¢ Only, and that’s the main reason I went there. I make it a point to fill up my hotel room bathtub with ice before I go out irresponsibly gambling and binge-drinking. That way, whoever steals my kidney isn’t relying on hotel-provided ice. I learned that the hard way a few years ago when I woke up in a shallow tub of lukewarm water with a Post-It note on my forehead apologizing that the ice machine at the end of the hall was out of order.


    I’d tell you the whole story but I’ve got to go. I just had a sip of iced tea and now I have to tinkle like a race horse.

    Posted by on April 27, 2015, 1:42 PM.

  4. ¿What’s Bueno? A Gallon of Miracle Whip, That’s What!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    OVER the last year or so, I’ve seen tons (literally!) of mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type products make their way through my local 99¢ Only stores. Everything from off-brand to name brand, though having just written that, it occurs to me that there’s not a lot, if anything, in between.

    But more often than not, that mayonnaise is name brand, and in decent-sized jars, too. Mostly it’s stuff nearing the end of its ‘best by’ date, which really means nothing, but in some cases, it’s unusual and sometimes unfortunate flavored mayonnaise.

    But this was a new one on me:


    That’s a gallon of Miracle Whip, folks!

    And while it may be technically a “dressing” (and I seem to recall that Kraft used to refer to it as a “sandwich dressing”), it still morally falls under the category of “mayonnaise-type products.”

    Anyway, a gallon of Miracle Whip comes in a jug is so big…


    …it’s got a handle to pour it.

    Believe it or not, I passed on it. And I challenge you to further believe it or not, but truth is, it’s not often I make anything that necessitates so much Miracle Whip that I have to pour it out of the gaping mouth of a huge jug.

    But it was a mistake: Knowing how the Ted Parsnips Web Design Team loves their egg salad sandwiches (at least judging by the smell in the break room downstairs), they certainly would have appreciated it. What’s more, the simple gesture of giving a gift, however inexpensive, would no doubt have gone far to build bridges between upper management and lowly, hourly-wage pixel-pushers.

    Heck, even if they didn’t use it in their egg salad, that wide-mouth jug would make it a snap to pour onto a bowl of Froot Loop Slightly Irregular Factory Seconds or whatever the hell the cereal is called that’s been strewn all over the floor and crunching underfoot in the IT department ever since one of them got back from visiting that Kellogg’s outlet store in Waterloo, New York.

    Let me tell you, between inane tangents that have nothing to do with the original subject and specific references that only 16.6667 of my, what, six readers will understand, even I’m beginning to wonder where I get the nerve to click that “publish” button.

    Posted by on March 28, 2015, 4:21 AM.

  5. ¿What’s Bueno? hair donut.

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Here’s something I’ve been seeing at the 99¢ Only store for a while, and I’ve decided to share it with you.

    It’s hair donut — the donut for the hair.


    What makes hair donut bueno?

    It’s bueno just by virtue of not being the kind of hair donut that has you pulling long brown strands out of your cruller (and your teeth) and threatening to call the health department on the little pastry shop on the corner for lapses in hairnet protocol.

    What’s more, for those of you who’ve fantasized about the forbidden love between man and Muppet — the love that dare not speak its name…


    …well, for just 99¢ only, you can cross another item off your bucket list.

    Posted by on March 3, 2015, 11:41 PM.

  6. ¿What’s Bueno? Rième Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Limonade!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Today’s “What’s Bueno” selection comes to the 99¢ Only store by way of France, a country famed for its gustatory delights — from frogs legs, or l’egs de frogge, to cheeses as pungent and unwashed as the very people who enjoy them. 

    And what we’ve got here is a beverage with which they wash down their frogs and cheese, or fraagzencheis, as they say in nearby Germany (probably).

    It’s Rième brand All Natural Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Limonade.


    No, that’s not a typo – it’s actually spelled “limonade.” That’s just how they do things in France. My, what an impression you’ll make on the host or hostess of a party you’ve been invited to when you show up with a classy gift like this – sturdy glass, quality paper label, old-fashioned stopper.

    “Oh, don’t open it up for us,” you’ll tell them. “You save it for a special occasion.” Yeah, a special occasion far in the future when you’re not around and they’ve forgotten who gave it to them, because this stuff is all about the packaging. The so-called “limonade” inside isn’t bad, it’s just very mild. I say there’s very little tang to the taste, not much zip to the [Note to self: come up with a z-word before I post this]. 

    “So why ‘Bueno’, Ted?” you ask. “How can you in good conscience recommend this to us, your trusting readers?”

    Go to Crate & Barrel and see what they charge you for similar empty bottles and you’ll see I’ve steered you right as always. And don’t you dare ever doubt me again.

    Posted by on February 18, 2015, 9:51 AM.

  7. ¿What’s Bueno? Peelable Wonka Pops!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Wonka Peel-a-Pop Frozen Dessert Pops — A scrumdiddlyumptious delight for just 99¢ only!


    From the fertile mind of Gene Wilder comes these delicious frozen treats, probably.

    Only a confectionery genius would think of combining vanilla with grape, jam the whole mess on a wooden stick and then make it peelable, like a banana, and then I suppose you eat the peel, but not necessarily the stick. As it turns out I don’t know because I didn’t buy them since I was hours from home when I saw them in a 99¢ Only store far from where I live.

    The idea of some sort of ice cream-like treat that you use your fingers to peel sounds like it could prove to be a tad messy, but this is from the man who perfected lickable wallpaper and soda that makes you float (both of which I keep hoping turns up at 99¢ Only — though so far, no luck), so I’m sure he’s worked out the kinks.

    Regardless, the picture on the box looks neat and therefore well worth your 99¢ only.  So shines a good deal in weary world, to paraphrase Mr. Wonka himself (who stole the line from Shakespeare, like some sort of literary Slugworth).

    Update! (3/4/2015)

    I finally gave in and bought a box when I found them at a 99¢ Only near me.


    • Eh, they’re not bad, and as it turns out, yes, you can peel the outer “skin” down like a banana.  This peel seems to be made out of some sort of gelatinous goo, like a cross between Jell-O and gummy bears. Of course, you don’t have to peel it down — you can just bite into your Wonka Peel-a-Pop and get vanilla ice cream-like substance and gummy grape peel in one bite, which is what I did after having experimented with the first one, being too much of an impatient glutton to bother with any pointless “peeling” tasks with the subsequent seven pops.


    • A side panel of the box curiously instructs the consumer to “HAVE 1 POP AT A TIME!” Look, Wonka, you performed your due diligence by putting the federally-mandated Nutrition Information on the box. Don’t tell me how to eat your frozen treats.

    • Wonka Peel-A-Pops are a product of Argentina. Ordinarily, I’m suspicious about imported food I find at the dollar store, as my experience with breakfast cereals from South America have left much to be desired. (And here’s where I’d put a link to a previous post about South American cereals found at the 99¢ Only store, only I haven’t written it yet.) But if I was wary about such imported food before, I’m even more so with these. They’re frozen…yet they traveled all the way from Argentina? Makes me wonder if they’re the kind of frozen treat that retain their general consistency even when they get to room temperature, which could certainly be the case here since they’re engummed in peelable skins. (That said, the vanilla ice cream-like substance inside was yummy.)

    • Peel-A-Pops are also available in Banana-Flavored Edible Peel/Vanilla Ice Cream-Like Substance Inside variety. Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about artificially banana-flavored anything; I wouldn’t ingest a gummy banana-flavored banana-peel for a lifetime supply of chocolate. (Though they do look pretty cool.) But trust me on this one, folks — stick with the grape/vanilla pops.

    Posted by on February 16, 2015, 9:48 AM.

  8. ¿What’s Bueno? A Bieber Toothbrush!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Check it out – a Justin Bieber BrushBuddies™ Singing Toothbrush! For just 99¢ only!


    The battery on my Bobby Sherman singing toothbrush wore out long ago, and the thing is, it wasn’t replaceable, so I’ve been dangerously brushing without music for years now – especially since dentists used to tell you that you should brush for exactly two minutes and forty-eight seconds – exactly the length of “Julie Do Ya Love Me.”

    But recently, the American Dental Association released the results of a new, updated study saying that this was not nearly long enough, and the ideal time for brushing one’s teeth is seven minutes and  fifty seconds – as it turns out the precise combined running times of “Beauty and a Beat” and “As Long As You Love Me” which are the two songs, incidentally, that this toothbrush plays.

    However, like you, I hate Bieber, so I brush-hacked it, hooked up the toothbrush to my laptop (really, just pushed the head into one of the USB ports until a bunch of bristles made enough points of contact to transfer data), erased the two songs, and uploaded some Petula Clark, a wonderful cover of “Mas Que Nada” by Rubin Mitchell, a vintage Price Is Right showcase cue, and three “The Splendid Table” podcasts to the toothbrush instead.

    Now I’ve got so much stuff to listen to, I’ve just tossed aside my clunky iPod and have begun multi-tasking by brushing my teeth when I go running. Thanks 99¢ Only store — helping me save money and time!

    Posted by on February 14, 2015, 2:40 AM.

  9. ¿What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store? Donkey Key Holder! Der!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    LOOK, despite my assertion that the 99¢ Only store is becoming the 99¢ Only store in name only (along with my admirable and praiseworthy steadfast refusal to award anything above the 99¢ only price point – industry term – the coveted “What’s Bueno” citation), I still find a lot of good stuff at 99¢ Only; and for 2015, my promise to you, my readers, is to feature a new What’s Bueno item each and every single day of the year right here on this blog.

    Oh, look, it’s more than two weeks into January. Well, I’ve already screwed up this one. I guess there’s really no reason to waste my time trying to bother with the, what, 349 days left, is there?

    Still, we’ll try to get ’em up here as events – and merchandise – warrant.

    And here’s one now! Not an event – a merchandise!


    It’s a magnetical keyholder! “Pin The Key On The Donkey,” reads the package. And it’s not just a key ring, no, but a wall-mounted holder from which to hang your keyring …from!

    You mount the donkey yourself – sort of the opposite of what happened that time your car got impounded in Tijuana so you made a deal with the guy who owned a local cantina to get up on stage and make some money, fast!  That’s  a long way to go for a joke, but it’s in such poor taste, you’ll agree it was worth it!

    Why these ended up at 99¢ Only is anyone’s guess, but my thoughts run to magnet strength and rings heavy with little trinkets and bottle openers and keyless remotes on them. But I don’t know this for a fact, because despite it being bueno, I didn’t buy one – not even for 99¢ only – because I’ve got enough crap around here as it is.

    And here my attorney cautions me to remind you: That’s not to say it’s crap – after all, it’s today’s What’s Bueno item which makes it the very antithesis of crap! Besides, I meant “crap” in a positive way.

    Anyway, it’s made by the good folks at GamaGo who have a website of other non-Donkey Magnetic Key Holder objets d’kitsch for sale – and don’t worry, kiddos, they’ve got zombie-, owl- and Gameboy-inspired items (plus much, much more) to satisfy all your gift-giving needs.

    The Donkey Magnetetical Key Holder, though? Apparently exclusively at 99¢ Only. Hee-haw and Happy New Year!

    Update! (3/9/2015)

    A location in Simi Valley has this doggie version!


    Much like the donkey key holder der, I didn’t buy this one, either.

    But it shore am cute!

    Posted by on January 16, 2015, 3:38 PM.

  10. ¡¿What’s Bueno?! – Halloween 2014 Edition!

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    COVERING Halloween goodies from the 99¢ Only Store has become as much an October tradition here at the Parsnips household as sitting in the bushes on Halloween night itself with the  porch lights off; and whether I’m at the dollar store focusing my camera or in the privet aiming my garden hose, someone’s bound to call me a creep and notify the police. I don’t quite know where I was going with that, so let’s just get started!


    Haunted House Napkins!
    I like ’em. Neat vintage looking artwork, but since it’s intentional, they’re barred from the next installment of “Delightfully Anachronistic Package Design,” which, yes, horror of horrors, will eventually rear its head again. And a pack of 20 is just 99¢ only. Even if you’re not having a party, you’ll want them around for handing out your delicious homemade, unwrapped treats to little ghosts & goblins which parents will immediately throw out.

    Incidentally, as you’ll see, that stylized haunted house napkin design is also the logo for all of the Halloween stuff at 99¢ Only this season.


    Skull Napkins!
    They’ve also got these Día de los Whosis skull napkins that are pretty snazzy, or, as they say in the particular culture that celebrates that cheap Halloween knockoff holiday (I believe it’s the Norwegians), “muy snazzio.” 

    By the way, you’ll find a number of items in the 99¢ Only Store’s Halloween aisle which are not 99¢ only; instead ranging in price from $1.29 to $2.99. However, I refuse to recognize 99¢ Only store items above their trademark 99¢ only price point regardless of how bueno they seem to be. So you’re on your own for any of that; rest assured, everything denoted as bueno here is 99¢ only.


    Cat Glasses!
    Here’s some fun eyewear that challenges hipster girls to discard their retro 60s-or-earlier cat glasses for actual cat glasses; i.e., glasses made from real cats, or, if not that, made from plastic in China. (But it’s China, so there’s a good chance maybe at some point a stray cat fell into the vat of molten plastic in which case I’m vindicated for at least part of the previous sentence.) And just what happens when a hipster girl tosses aside her old cat glasses and puts on these new cat glasses? I believe she immediately incinerates in an intense and fiery flash of blinding white-hot irony.

    Eh…is there a new word for “hipster”…? I feel like an old man here, all, what?, six of you quietly mocking me for using “hipster” like it was 2006 or something. But let’s face it, those cat glasses-wearing types still exist, so unless you have a better name for them and their bearded male counterparts, we’ll stick with “hipsters.” But we’ll try not to use it so much, hmm?


    Though they consist of a plastic “wooden stick” and a bunch of plastic “straw” which is attached by a “cable tie” (also, yes, made of plastic!), I have to say, they look pretty good. They resemble a real witch’s broom, albeit a short one. (Still, they’re almost a full yard long!) And that tree branch handle is gnarled and crooked – a nice touch. Pretty good deal for a buck, if you ask me. And most importantly, such an accessory encourages and reinforces traditional Halloween costumes, which is something this country has, sadly, strayed away from in recent years, thank you liberal media!


    Spider Webs!
    These came in a one-web-per bag regular size and a multiple web-per-bag mini-size (seen above). Anyone who’s been to Casa Parsnips knows such decor would be wasted here – you wouldn’t be able to see ’em for all the real cobwebs covering every corner and the arachnids that are constantly climbing walls and/or dropping down from above. Still, these phony ones seem pretty neat. Looking at them up close (i.e., in person, not in the photo), one could see that these webs are actually machine-knit or weaved – that is, it’s not just wads of diaphanous cottony floss you just tear into thin wisps and string anywhere – presumably these things can be stretched out and give the appearance of actual spider webs. Presumably.



    Gross Candy!
    Well, these certainly aren’t my idea of What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store, but I bet stupid kids just love ’em. Unfortunately, it’s also proof that year after year, the relentless zombie pop culture apocalypse continues to shuffle and shamble and literally drag on, with no end in sight. The 4.25 ounce brain candy is particularly disgusting, and looks potentially messy as well. Not shown: Candy blood bag, with sugary red corn syrup standing in for blood – that you just suck out of a tube. Look, ordinarily, I’m a big supporter of corn syrup – but as a nourishing ingredient in other fine foods – never on its own! You might as well be doing shots of pancake syrup like I do at IHOP with their deliciously artificially butter pecan flavor. Perhaps the lesson here is not to judge.


    Spider Web Felt Doily!
    As with last year’s spider web bowls, these otherwise great items would have been much better had they been manufactured in white. Of course, even if they were white, I’d probably complain that “Oh, sure, the web is white, but so are the spiders! Are we to believe these are, what, some sort of albino cave spiders? Bah!” Though in that case, I’d advise you to take a great big Marks-A-Lot pen and just enblacken the spiders yourself. However, it’s a moot point because these felt webs are available only in orange, black and green. They’re still arguably bueno because they’re just the special decorative touch to put under your plastic skull pitcher. Speaking of which…!


    Plastic Skull Pitcher!
    Available in clear and in smoke. Looks like it holds about two quarts. You can’t go wrong for 99¢ Only! Fill it with margaritas and drink until you no longer care that the decorative felt web it’s sitting on would look better in white. With black spiders.

    Skull Shot Glasses!
    The photo’s from last year, but they still have ’em. I even bought a set, because – four skull shotglasses for 99¢ only – I’d’ve been a fool not to pick these up. They’re plastic, yes, with a frosted sheen to them, and like the pitchers, come in clear-ish and smoke-ish.


    Solar-Powered Haunted House!
    These little sun-powered toys are all the rage at the dollar stores these days – the most ubiquitous ones are (non-Halloween) flowers, but I’ve also seen really cool (non-Halloween) sharks (below).


    Each of these moving toys has a little solar panel that makes some element of the figure rock back and forth. Whoopee. In the case of the little (4″ tall) haunted house, the two pie-eyed Pac-Man-ghost-like spectres pop up and down and the attic shakes.

    Like you, I am charmed by the lopsided, angular, asymmetrical cartoony look of the house. And so I bought one. All of these little solar-powered dealies come with a two-sided adhesive disk so you could mount them to, say, the dashboard of your car, but as that particular area of the Parsnipsmobile is covered in bean-and-cheese-encrusted Del Taco wrappers, Mexican head-shaking dogs and Virgin Mary statues (all ironic, except for the Del Taco garbage), there’s no room. I’m afraid the Haunted House stays here at home. And speaking of irony – isn’t it ironic that the only way to get this dark and dreary haunted house to work is through the power of a sunny day? Don’tcha think?


    Color-Changing Skull!
    Believe it or not, that’s the same skull photographed three times due to an elaborate multiple exposure process achieved by me standing really still with the camera over an interminable 40 seconds or so while the skull cycled through a rainbow of colors, and then there was the whole Photoshopping-them-together process, and by Photoshopping, I mean, of course free online photo editor-ing. According to its label, this 3-1/4″ tall plastic skull is technically called COLOR CHANGING LED LIGHT, and it’s pretty neat, although I wish I had gotten a shot where it’s glowing green as well. 99¢ only and the batteries are already included? You’d have to have a thick skull not to buy one of these!


    Regulars visitors to this blog (ha!) will remember that I prophetically announced two years ago that these pull-over nylon masks would be the Halloween staple of the future! …Annnd it turns out I was wrong. They’d pretty much disappeared after 2012. But I did find one lone leftover Unlicensed Frankenstein(‘s Monster) Mask in a Simi Valley 99¢ Only store a few weeks ago, and just as you would have done, I quickly snatched it up. (Unlike you, I actually paid for it, though).

    No, these great masks, which I still think are awesome, sadly never took off. Instead, they’ve got these knit, pull-over ski mask-type things this year:


    …which I would really like to say are bueno, but at $1.49 each, they’re over 99¢ only, so I cannot legally or morally or ethically recommend them. However, I must say I am looking forward to the first news story I see where some criminal robs a bank wearing one of these since they’re pretty much tailor-made for such an activity.

    …And my attorney tells me I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form you should do anything illegal, whether wearing one of these or not. He goes on to say that I look forward to this winter when extreme and law-abiding young people will be wearing them snowboarding or whatever it is law-abiding and extreme young people do in the snow these days, and he’s right, I do look forward to that. And he further doubts an actual professional tailor had anything to do with manufacturing these.

    Speaking of hoods…


    Ninja Hoods
    These are great. There are other ninja items, too for 99¢ Only, but these hoods are particularly cool. I mean, a ninja hood for just 99¢ only – even I’m on board and ninjas are not on my list of pre-approved traditional scary Halloween costumes – witch, ghost, vampire, Frankenstein(‘s Monster), hobo. (Yes, hobos can be scary – just ask late 19th century teenage runaway Jimmy ‘Pretty Punk’ Burrows, author of the disturbing 1893 narrative, “Long Winter In The Chicago Rail-Yard Hobo Jungle or: Anything To Keep Warm!”)


    While we’re on the subject of headware, check out this fine selection of molded hats, all for just 99¢ a piece!

    And here’s a surprise: No Heisenberg porkpie hat knockoff. True, 2013 would have been the year to have unlicensed “Breaking Bad” costume elements, but one expects the dollar store to be about a year behind the times; and such a hat would still have been a big seller this year, labeled “Cancer-Ridden Drug Kingpin Hat” or “Say My Name Hat” or “I Am The One Who Knocks (For Candy) Hat.”

    The other hats are mostly unapproved (by me), unscary, non-traditional costume hats, except for the colorful cowboy hats, which look like they might be worn by strippers. And if you don’t think strippers can be scary, ho ho, brother, you ain’t been to that gentlemen’s club up on Canoga Avenue on a non-holiday weekday morning when they’ve got their C-team working the pole!


    Comically Long Mustache
    Every Halloween aisle needs to have at least one item to get oversensitive folks’ panties in a knot. I’d like to think that for the 99¢ Only store, it could be this comically long mustache  – or as I like to call it, this “comically wrong” mustache. (And if you see me in person, ask me to pronounce that for you, to get the full effect.) Yes, yes, I know: “oversensitive” nothing – some people just have an allergic reaction to synthetic hair, that’s all. Actually, to be fair, it wouldn’t be the actual mustache that would probably set off the Easily Offended, it’s the card it’s packaged on. Of course, I think it’s a riot, so please don’t ask me to sign your internet petition.

    I saved my favorite What’s Bueno item for last.  It’s these…


    Small Glass Skull Bottles
    Just under 4″ tall, these bottles are available in clear and black. I avoid any glass items that are painted – the color eventually chips off – so I recommend you go with the clear, as I did, and then fill with a dark liquid. If we could go back in time some eighty-five or ninety years, or so, I’d introduce you to young Master “Teddy” Parsnips, little lonesome nerdling who spent much of his free time in the woods surrounding his fabulous New England estate, Wintersnips, digging up discarded bottles from 19th century garbage dumps. (True, mostly!) Anyway, I, uh–  …that is, he would tell you he especially enjoyed finding old ink wells and poison bottles, both of which he noticed were particularly decorative.


    It’s with that nostalgic thought in mind that I bought a quantity of India ink from the blogging supply store, filled up the little skull container with same and actually composed this entire post by hand, as our forebloggers did centuries ago. I’ll probably have a devil of a time getting all the words off the screen once I publish this, and AppleCare tells me I’m not covered for indelible ink and palladium silver pen nib scratches, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it.

    So there you have it – my picks for What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store for this Halloween season. Your local 99¢ Only store has tons more Halloween items – some bueno, some not, some goofy and fun, and some scary.

    …But, while we’re at it, speaking of ‘scary’…?


    Halloween Fright Tape
    Other variations include “Infection Zone,” “Do Not Enter!” [with biohazard symbol] and  “Danger!” [with skull & crossbones]. Given recent news stories of alarming emergency room “missteps” in Dallas, nurses nationwide saying they’re underprepared, and the CDC’s recent stellar track record, let’s hope these things remain mere Halloween novelties in the weeks ahead.

    Parsnips, you say, How dare you instigate fear-mongering, encourage unrest, suggest panic in the streets!


    If I wanted paranoia, chaos, panicked masses (if all, what?, six of you readers constitute a mass), if I wanted to monger me up some good old-fashioned monger-flavored fear, I’d have made a much bigger deal about the 99¢ Only store unleashing this on an unwitting public!


    Now is the time to start panicking, folks!

    Oh, and, yes, of course I bought some! Just call me Patient Zero in the coming Canned Chicken Bologna Plague. Either that or I’ve discovered some sort of marvelous cure-all – a mechanically-separated chicken elixir of life! – which is frankly what I suspect.  Do try it fried!

    Posted by on October 6, 2014, 5:39 PM.

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