An Ocala, Florida, ice cream shop made the mistake of having an employee dress up like an ice cream cone and wave a sign around advertising their product. What’s that? That seems perfectly reasonable?
Not when the ice cream cone costume is distinctly Ku Klux Klan–y, what with the pointy white hooded top. Albeit with sprinkles. But still. Not a great marketing move.
Were we to assign this a rating for how scary a mascot it was, though, I’d only give the KKKCone mascot a 5 out of 10 scare factor. Yes, the Klan is real, and scary, and horrible, and demonstrably stupid, which kind of makes them even scarier. But (a) this costume can best be described as “vaguely Klan-esque,” and (b) it is unlikely that an actual Klan member would be standing around in uniform soliciting business for a minority-owned ice cream shop.
On that front: Let’s consider some other scary food mascot examples from the pages of recent history.
Scare Factor: 3/10
Consider the vampire, all kidding aside. Endless life at the cost of your humanity, an eternal banishment from the sun, and an existence spent cannibalistically sucking blood from helpless victims. Woo. Totally made up, but still pretty scary.
And then there’s Count Chocula. You just never think about the dark side of vampirism when you hear about Count Chocula. Mostly he’s just into chocolate-flavored breakfast cereals, and he kind of looks like a harmless eccentric. Capacity to deliver scares in theory, sure. Scares delivered, not so much. Honestly, Boo Berry is scarier, because you worry about the tragic death that created him in the first place. Did it involve blueberries? I give Boo Berry 4 out of 10.
Scare Factor: 7/10
Clowns, man. Clowns clock in at a natural 9 or 10. They’re so disconnected from contemporary humor and/or culture that they’re just these horrifying, weird, corny-yet-threatening walking anachronisms. Everybody and their mother has written and/or filmed clown-based horror stories, and coulrophobia is pretty much as common as the fear of death itself.
That said: Ronald McDonald tones it down a bit. He’s much better written than most clowns, clocking in with a soothing late-era Peanuts-level banter. And he’s got a clear motive: Sell them burgers. Knowing that he’s a mere commercial shill takes some of the scariness away.
Some, but not all. Still unnerving. Still wouldn’t unlock the screen door if he rang the front doorbell.
The Burger King King
Scare Factor: 10/10
The thankfully discontinued Burger King King was designed to haunt our dreams. Playing on the well-known and hypereffective “Uncanny Valley” theory of terror (that which looks almost lifelike is the scariest of all), the waxen features of the Burger King King suggest possession, death, violence, and the pitiless gaze of a brutal automaton in search of human souls. And this was the idea! This was the marketing scheme! Edginess: obtained. Effectively selling hamburgers: not so much.
If there’s a scarier food mascot out there than the Burger King King, post it in the comments. He’s hard to top.