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12 Facts About Chips Ahoy! To Chew On

It wasn’t the first massed-produced chocolate chip cookie—that honor goes to Nestle Toll House for its late-1930s version—but it is America’s best-selling one. Since 1963, Nabisco’s iconic Chips Ahoy! has been at the top of the cookie game thanks to a combination of clever marketing and straight-up scrumptiousness. And though it's a favorite for both kids and adults, here are 12 facts about the treats we bet you didn’t know.

1. CHIPS AHOY! MAY HAVE GOTTEN ITS NAME FROM CHARLES DICKENS. OR DONALD DUCK.

Nabisco has only ever said that the name was inspired by the nautical term "ships ahoy." But the play on the phrase does have precedent: An 1859 story in Charles Dickens’s The Uncommercial Traveller includes the passage, "Chips ahoy! Old boy! We've pretty well eat them too, and we'll drown the crew, and will eat them too!" Walt Disney jumped on board, too, with an animated Donald Duck short of the same name in 1956.

2. THE ORIGINAL MASCOT WAS CALLED COOKIE MAN.

The first Chips Ahoy! mascot was a live-action superhero named Mort Meek, whose antics appeared in comic strips on packaging and on TV spots during Saturday morning cartoons. The storylines often portrayed Mort Meek enjoying all "16 chocolate chips" in his cookie when a thieving villain with a sweet tooth would attack. Mort Meek would slip away, Superman-style, and reemerge as Cookie Man to save the day.

3. IN THE 2000s, COOKIE MAN WAS REPLACED BY COOKIE GUY.

After a decades-long absence, Chips Ahoy! brought back their mascot in 2002, this time in the form of animated cookies. They also tweaked the moniker and, in 2014, debuted a more humanlike form of Cookie Guy (one who walks with legs, rather than just gliding around) to better reflect what a spokesperson told The New York Times was the brand’s “lighthearted, playful, [and] slightly mischievous” spirit. The rule-breaking Cookie Guy pulls all sorts of rogue antics, from walking through doors that explicitly say "No Food Allowed," to ever-so-slightly disturbing a "Do Not Disturb" sign.

4. THERE ARE ACTUALLY FIVE COOKIE GUYS.

Or so claims Nabisco’s parent company, Mondelez International. The five “guys” that make up the cookie gang are Chipper, Soft, Stroppy, Chunky, and Cheeky.

5. JOEY LAWRENCE STARRED IN AN EARLY COMMERCIAL.

Before he was Blossom’s big bro (and your middle-school crush), Joey Lawrence was a child actor just tryin’ to earn a buck. In an early-'80s spot, he comes home from school embarrassed, whining that a classmate kissed him in front of everyone. His mother consoles him with a plate of milk and cookies, as one does.

6. NEW YORK JETS COACH TODD BOWLES IS A HUGE FAN.

Cookies, apparently, are the "lone vice" football coach Todd Bowles allows himself. After saying his preferred way to celebrate a win was with a glass of milk and a stack of Chips Ahoy!, the company sent Bowles a care package full of boxes of the cookies, plus a personalized coffee mug to congratulate him on the team’s 3-1 season start last year. Bowles doled out one cookie to each player from his "personal stash" after they beat the Patriots later in 2015.

Another athletic fan? St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, who told a radio show that baseball fans were good with letting him just live his life—and make his cookie purchases. "The fans here are great," Wacha said. "If they do see me out … buying Chips Ahoy!, they don't bother me too much. They just say 'Great game,' or 'Good luck tonight.'"

7. THE NUMBER OF CHIPS IN EACH COOKIE HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS.

The ads of the 1960s often showed Cookie Man meticulously counting the chocolate morsels in a cookie with the tagline "Chips Ahoy: The 16-chip cookie." In response to increased competition in the '80s, the company began promising 32 chips per cookie (they later scaled that back to 24) and changed the slogan to "Betcha Bite a Chip." By the next decade, Chips Ahoy! was touting the number included in an entire "1000-chip delicious" bag.

8. A BUNCH OF THIRD-GRADERS GOT NATIONWIDE ATTENTION WHEN THEY CHALLENGED THE COMPANY’S 1000-CHIP CLAIM.

In 1996, a third-grade class in Wadesboro, North Carolina, counted only 680 chips in a bag of Chips Ahoy! and wrote to Nabisco in protest. The company, in turn, staged a public recount. It turned out that that the kids had only counted the chips on the cookie’s surface; once the cookies were dissolved in water and all of the cookies' chips were on view, the total reached 1181 chips. Sales jumped 20 percent as a result.

9. U.S. AIR FORCE CADETS WERE AMONG THE PARTICIPANTS IN CHIPS AHOY!'S 1000 CHIP CHALLENGE.

Following the counting stunt in North Carolina, Chips Ahoy! launched a chip-counting campaign in 1999, which challenged the public to creatively confirm each cookie’s amount of chips. They attracted entries from, among others, statistics students at the Air Force Academy, who analyzed 42 bags to conclude that 93 percent of them did indeed contain at least 1000 chips.

10. THEY’VE BEEN KNOWN TO INCITE VIOLENCE, BUT ODDLY, ONLY IN ILLINOIS.

On at least two occasions, Chips Ahoy! has been implicated in serious crimes. A Decatur, Illinois, woman claimed in 2014 her roommate became hysterical when she ate three of his cookies for breakfast, and subsequently tried to strangle her in the bathtub. Elsewhere in the state the following year, Belleville police responded to shots fired stemming from an argument over $8 and a bag of Chips Ahoy! cookies.

11. BUT THEY'VE ALSO SAVED LIVES.

In March 1985, four fishermen were rescued after spending 42 hours adrift in a rubber life raft off of Nantucket. The crew had been forced to abandon its 67-foot trawler after huge waves flooded the boat’s engine room, which proved to be a smart move when the craft sank just minutes later. The four men survived almost two days in rough conditions in part because they had five bags of their favorite cookies to help keep them afloat. After they were rescued, one of the fishermen gave this explanation for their survival: "Everyone did plenty of praying and eating Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies … Without God, and the supply of cookies, I don’t think we would have made it. The cookies saved us."

12. CHIPS AHOY! CAN BE THE BASE ALL OF YOUR NEW FAVORITE RECIPES.

Sure, Chips Ahoy! are tasty on their own, but that doesn’t mean they can’t kick it up a notch, too. Mondelez maintains a website full of recipes for snackers who want to use their favorite packaged cookies as a building block for something more ambitious. In the mood for a Chips Ahoy Sweet Plantain Quesadilla? What about a birthday party-perfect Hedgehog Cake? Chips Ahoy! are a surprisingly versatile ingredient.

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13 Secrets of Halloween Costume Designers
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For consumers, Halloween may be all about scares, but for businesses, it’s all about profits. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $9.1 billion this year on spooky goods, including a record $3.4 billion on costumes. “It’s an opportunity to be something you’re not the other 364 days of the year,” Jonathan Weeks, CEO of Costumeish.com, tells Mental Floss. “It feels like anything goes.”

To get a better sense of what goes into those lurid, funny, and occasionally outrageous disguises, we spoke to a number of designers who are constantly trying to react to an evolving seasonal market. Here’s what we learned about what sells, what doesn’t, and why adding a “sexy” adjective to a costume doesn’t always work.

1. SOME COSTUMES ARE JUST TOO OUTRAGEOUS FOR RETAIL

A woman models a scary nun costume for Halloween
iStock

For kids, Halloween is a time to look adorable in exchange for candy. For adults, it’s a time to push the envelope. Sometimes that means provocative, revealing costumes; other times, it means going for shock value. “You get looks at a party dressed as an Ebola worker,” Weeks says. “We have pregnant nun costumes, baby cigarette costumes.” The catch: You won’t be finding these at Walmart. “They’re meant for online, not Spencer’s or Party City.”

2. … BUT THERE ARE SOME LINES THEY WON’T CROSS.

Homeowners are scared by trick-or-treaters on Halloween
iStock

Although Halloween is the one day of the year people can deploy a dark sense of humor without inviting personal or professional disaster, some costume makers draw their own line when it comes to how far to exceed the boundaries of good taste. “We’ve never done a child pimp costume, but someone else has,” says Robert Berman, co-founder of Rasta Imposta, a business that broke into the industry on the strength of their fake dreadlock wig in 1992. Weeks says some questionable ideas that have been brought to the discussion table have stayed there. “There’s no toddler KKK costume or baby Nazi costume,” he says. “There is a line.”

3. THEY CAN DESIGN AND PRODUCE A COSTUME IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

A man models a costume in front of a mirror
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

A lot of costume interest comes from what’s been making headlines in the fall: Costumers have to be ready to meet that demand. “We’re pretty good at being able to react quickly,” says Pilar Quintana, vice-president of merchandising for Yandy.com. “Something happening in April may not be strong enough to stick around for Halloween.”

Because the mail-order site has in-house models and isn’t beholden to approval from big box vendors, Quintana can design and photograph a costume so it’s available within 72 hours. If it's more elaborate, it can take a little longer: Both Yandy and Weeks had costumes inspired by the Cecil the Lion story that broke in July 2015 (in which a trophy hunter from Minnesota killed an African lion) on their sites in a matter of weeks.

4. BEYONCE CAN HELP MOVE STALE INVENTORY.

A screen shot from Formation, a music video featuring Beyonce
beyonceVEVO, YouTube

Extravagant custom tailoring jobs aside, Halloween costumes are a business of instant demand and instant gratification—inventory needs to be plentiful in order to fill the deluge of orders that come in a short frame of time. If a business miscalculates the popularity of a given theme, they might be stuck with overstock until they can find a better idea to hang on it. “Last year, we had 400 or 500 Zorro costumes that we couldn’t sell for $10,” Weeks says. “It had a big black hat that came with it, and I thought, ‘That looks familiar.’ It turned out it looked a lot like the one Beyonce wore in her ‘Lemonade’ video.” Remarketed as a "Formation" hat for Beyonce cosplayers, Weeks moved his stock.

5. WOMEN DON’T USUALLY WEAR MASKS.

A man tries on a Joker mask at a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Curiously, there’s a large gender gap when it comes to the sculpted latex monster masks offered by Halloween vendors: They’re sold almost exclusively to men. “There just aren’t a lot of masks with female characters,” Weeks says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because men in general like gory, scary costumes.” One exception: Hillary Clinton masks, which were all the rage last year.

6. FOOD COSTUMES ARE ALWAYS A HIT.

A dog wears a hot dog costume for Halloween
iStock

At Rasta Imposta, Berman says political and pop culture trends can shift their plans, but one theme is a constant: People love to dress up as food. “We’ve had big success with food items. Bananas, pickles. We did an avocado.” Demand for these faux-edible costumes can occasionally get ugly: Rasta is currently suing Sears and Kmart for selling a banana costume that they allege infringes on Rasta’s copyrighted version, which has blackened ends and a vertical stripe.

7. ADDING ”SEXY” TO EVERYTHING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK.

A packaged Halloween costume hangs on a store rack
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

It’s a recurring joke that some costume makers only need to add a “sexy” adjective to a design concept in order to make it marketable. While there’s some truth to that—Quintana references Yandy’s “sexy poop emoji” costume—it’s no guarantee of success. “We had a concept for ‘sexy cheese’ that was a no-go,” she says. “'Sexy corn’ didn’t really work at all. ‘Sexy anti-fascist’ didn’t make the cut this year.”

8. PEOPLE ASK FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF.

A person appears in a skull costume with glowing eyes for Halloween
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In addition to monitoring social media for memes and trends, designers can get an idea of what consumers are looking for by shadowing their online searches. Costumeish.com monitors what people are typing into their search bar to see if they’re missing out on a potential hit. “People search for odd things sometimes,” Weeks says. “People want to be a cactus, a palm tree, they’re looking for a priest and a boy costume. People can be weird.”

9. THEY HAVE WORKAROUNDS FOR BIG PROPERTIES.

Go out to a party this year and you’re almost guaranteed to run into the Queen of the North. But not every costume maker has the official license for Game of Thrones. What are other companies to do? Come up with a design that sparks recognition without sparking a lawsuit. “Our biggest seller right now is Sexy Northern Queen,” Quintana says. “It’s inspired by a TV show.” But she won’t say which one.

10. PEOPLE LOVE SHARKS.

Singer Katy Perry appears on stage with two dancing sharks
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

From the clunky Ben Cooper plastic costume from 1975’s Jaws to today, people can’t seem to get enough of shark-themed outfits. “We do a lot of sharks,” Berman says. “Maybe it’s because of Shark Week in the summertime, but sharks always tend to trend. People just like the idea of sharks.”

11. DEAD CELEBRITIES MEAN SALES.

A portrait of Hugh Hefner hangs in the Playboy Mansion
Hector Mata/Getty Images

It may be morbid, but it’s a reality: The high-profile passing of celebrities, especially close to Halloween, can trigger a surge in sales. “Before Robin Williams died, I couldn’t sell a Mork costume for a dollar,” Weeks says. “After he died, I couldn’t not sell it for less than $100.” This year, designers expect Hugh Hefner to fuel costume ideas—unless something else pops up suddenly to grab their attention. “Last year, when Prince died, that was almost trumped by [presidential debate audience member] Ken Bone,” Berman says. “He became almost more popular than Prince.”

12. THEY PROFIT FROM PEOPLE SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE.

A man shops for Halloween costumes in a retail store
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Ever wonder why food and other novelty costumes tend to outsell traditional garb like pirates and witches? Because costume shopping for adults is usually done frantically and they don’t have time to compare 25 different Redbeards. “People tend to do it at the very last minute, so we want something that pops out at them,” Berman says. “Like, ‘Oh, I want to be a crab.’”

Weeks agrees that procrastination is profitable. “We make a lot of money on shipping,” he says. “Some people get party invites on the 25th and so they’re paying for next-day air.”

13. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SEASONAL BUSINESS.

A woman shops for costumes in a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the most surprising thing about the Halloween business is that it’s not really seasonal on their end. Costumes are designed year-round, and planning can take between 12 and 18 months. “It’s 365 days a year,” Quintana says. “We’ll start thinking about next Halloween in December.” Weeks says he'll begin planning in May 2018—for Halloween 2019.

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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