Innovative Spirit

17 Inventions That Will Put You in the Halloween Mood

Here are some bizarre costume ideas, decorations and supplies culled from the U.S. patent archives

(Patent from USPTO/Design by Shaylyn Esposito)
smithsonian.com

The National Retail Federation suspects that Americans will spend $6.9 billion this Halloween. About $2.5 billion will go toward store-bought costumes and the props, pieces and fabric for homemade guises—this includes a frightening $350 million for gussying up our pets. People will shell out a total of $2.1 billion for candy and another $1.9 billion for pumpkins, corn stalks and kitschy decorations. The remainder—a not-so-insignificant $330 million—will be spent on greeting cards.

So it should be no surprise that a search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office archives turns up an enticing array of inventions fit for Halloween. Whether or not they were intended for the holiday, deliver on their promise or even made it to market, these 17 products—gruesome chocolate molds and levitating furniture, spooky noisemakers and aggressive face tattoos—should get you in the spirit.

House party guests, beware! This flush responsive audio player will get you. "Boo!" (USPTO)
You could hand out Kit Kats and Snickers—or, better yet, chocolate thumbs. (USPTO)
Ah, ah, ah. Put the candy down. In the era before food diaries on your smartphone, sensors in this wristwatch-like device, patented in 1990, detected when your hand was near your mouth and activated an alarm each time. A sophisticated version came equipped with a calorie counter where the wearer could manually enter the calorie amount for those foods they chose to eat. (USPTO)
This lighter-than-air bed, patented in 1989, is perfect for a tiny, studio apartment—or a haunted house! The helium-filled mattress levitates, until a user pulls it down with a tether and lies on it. (USPTO)
Pump the handle on this candy collecting device and the rat perched on the bag's rim springs up. Surprise! (USPTO)
For Halloween, why not be a caricature of yourself? (USPTO)
This creeping doll, patented in 1871, is downright creepy. Perfect for a haunted house, its limbs move while concealed wheels propel the doll forward. (USPTO)
This handy "Halloween backpack" has a chute over one shoulder for collecting treats. (USPTO)
For the Starburst-eyed kids looking to collect a big haul, there is this pumpkin container on a wheels. (USPTO)
Forget the makeup and face paint. Instead, apply this "wild" temporary facial tattoo. (USPTO)
In 1996, inventor Donald W. Nutting of Boulder, Colorado, received a patent for a temporary fang and the method for attaching it with thermoplastic material to an actual tooth. (USPTO)
Richard Tweddell, III, of Cincinnati, Ohio, received a patent in 1989 for a a method and apparatus for molding fruit. A home gardener could close one of Tweddell's molds—shaped like a heart, a Christmas tree ornament, even a celebrity—around, say, a pumpkin, squash or gourd and it would grow against the mold and conform to its details. "A zucchini in the likeness of Clark Gable, for example, complete with mustache, would be no ordinary sight on the dinner table," reads the patent. (USPTO)
Inventors Hugh Huffman and Ernest Peck received a patent in 1916 for a scarecrow that was far better, in their opinion, than the "crude affairs" being used at the time to keep birds and other animals away from crops. "One of the main objects of our invention is to provide a more efficient form of scare crow consisting of a figure formed to resemble a living animal in the posture of approaching its prey." This one is a pouncing cat. (USPTO)
If a Halloween blizzard dumps record-breaking amounts of snow, causing towns to cancel the holiday, house-bound trick-or-treaters could play this Halloween board game. Players navigate a graveyard, haunted house, pumpkin patch and corn field and collect popcorn, candy corn, apples, oranges, doughnuts, lollipops and candy bars. (USPTO)
Everybody's gone surfin'—even Fido. (USPTO)
With a click of a remote control, parents hanging back in the street can remind their kids to say "trick or treat" or "thank you." This bag plays a recorded message. (USPTO)
This pizza slice costume might provide some last-minute costume inspiration. (USPTO)
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