The hottest Halloween costume in 2011?
There are very few off-the-shelf Nicki Minaj costumes, but plenty of online marketers are stepping in to fill the Niki Minaj prepackaged void. "In a tutorial with 300,000 views, a YouTube poster shares tips on applying vibrant makeup, picking the perfect pink-infused outfit (down to the animal-print shoes) and finding the right wig," notes the New York Daily News.
But which Halloween costumes are the bestsellers depends on your source, when you conduct the research, and how you slice and dice the data.
According to Time, the most popular Google searches for Halloween costume: 1. Angry Birds 2. Black Swan, 3. Playboy Bunny.
Nicki Minaj doesn't show up until No. 4, according to Time.
Check with SortPrice.com, the online Halloween bestsellers among adults are Captain America, the Green Lantern, and Where's Waldo. No Nick Minaj in sight. For kids, it's Harry Potter, princesses, and the Green Lantern.
Whoever you believe, these lists offer a window on the zeitgeist of American pop culture. Movies and television are the prime inspirations.
And why would Captain America, a movie that was No. 8 in terms of box office sales, be a more popular costume than, say, Harry Potter (No. 1 in box office sales). Green Lantern costumes are also selling well (No. 9) in box office sales.
Are Americans seeking refuge in superhero personas during times of economic uncertainty?
The National Retail Federation offers an explanation for zombies: The AMC series "The Walking Dead." "Zombies are everywhere you turn and consumers often take Hollywood and pop-culture and turn it into a costume," Kathy Grannis, spokeswoman for the NRF, told CNN.
According to the NRF, Americans will spend an average of $72.31 on costumes, candy, and decorations – up 9 percent over last year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $6.86 billion, the most in the NRF survey's nine-year history. Halloween, notes the NRF, is no longer just for school-age trick-or-treaters. It's increasingly an adult party holiday.
And Angry Birds? Is an Angry Birds costume another medium for angry Americans – be they tea party activists or those in the Occupy Wall Street movement – to express their frustration? Or does it have something to do with how much screen time this game is getting?
At an estimated 400 million downloads, and counting, this is one of the most popular online games of all time.