Prepare your Pumpkin Pails for the history behind Trick. Treat. Win!

October 25, 2018

A scary long time ago in October 1965, McDonald’s restaurants prepared to kick off our biggest promotion of the fall season: Halloween.

Just 10 years after our founding, McDonald’s had fewer than 1,000 restaurants nationwide, but we knew we had a hit. With every Happy Meal purchase, we gave away trick-or-treat bags for kids to decorate and carry their candy. And we scared up enough pumpkins and goblin balloons to give our restaurants some spooky spirit.

More than 50 years and thousands of restaurant openings later, our love for Halloween remains. And we celebrate each year with some un-boo-lievably good prizes.

This year, we brewed up the Trick. Treat. Win! game[*] to take it to a frighteningly fun level. All October long, players have a chance to win treats such as food prizes, cash, cars, gaming systems, vacations and more instantly with game pieces on qualifying McDonald’s purchases. Game pieces can also carry tokens for entering the Daily Sweepstakes on our website and through the McDonald’s app. Odds of winning food or another prize are 1 in 4. That’s a pretty tantalizing trick.

But it’s more than just a game. At McDonald’s, giving away treats is our favorite festive pastime.

“From the trick-or-treat bags, it went to gift certificates and then to Halloween McNugget Buddies,” recalls McDonald’s archivist Mike Bullington of our historical Halloween giveaways.

Over his 14 years with McDonald’s, Bullington has witnessed the evolution of Halloween at the company firsthand.

“I think the favorite items have probably been the Pumpkin Pails,” he says. “But Halloween at McDonald’s has been successful year after year. And as a customer, it’s exciting to see the new ideas generated.”

Indeed, the green, black, orange and white plastic Pumpkin Pails-turned-collector’s-items are a nostalgic symbol for many fans. Who’s to say a glow-in-the-dark face doesn’t make a bucket full of candy taste better? We think it just might.

We also think sending you and a friend to New York City, Los Angeles or Nashville for a VIP concert experience is a great way to help you trick-or-treat yourself this year. So creep over to Trick. Treat. Win! and get the party startled!

And if you happen to be in Chicago this month, we’ll be celebrating the Halloween spirit at our flagship restaurant with Trick. Treat. Win! Fright Lights! on display until Oct. 31. Share in the scare! Snap and share pics of your falltime fun and any goodies you get, then post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, including #TrickTreatWin.

[*] No purchase necessary. Open to residents of 50 U.S. and D.C. 13+. Game ends Oct. 31, 2018, or while game pieces last. Subject to official rules at participating McDonald’s restaurants, in the McDonald’s app and at See official rules for details on how to play without purchase. Void where prohibited.