Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. From the classic horror movies to the cool fall weather, what's not to love? It's hard to imagine how a holiday centered around costumes and candy could be better. But somehow, Boston-based clothing brand Johnny Cupcakes has managed to make the candy-filled month of October even better with their annual tradition of Halloween-themed t-shirts.
Every October for more than a decade, the quirky Johnny Cupcakes brand has unveiled a collection of colorful and creepy t-shirts. While sometimes they are released individually, most years there is a specific theme in an ongoing line of spooktacular apparel humorously called There's Something In The Cupcake Mix.
Beginning in 2006 just three years after founder Johnny Earle started his company, There's Something In The Cupcake Mix is an annual celebration of spooky season. The apparel and accessories released for There's Something In The Cupcake Mix are often some of the brand's most popular of the year and thus most collectible. But it's more than just a fall fashion line – it's an event in and of itself.
Ask any Cupcaker (what Johnny Cupcakes collectors call themselves) and they'll probably reminisce about some of the wild and wacky events held at Johnny Cupcakes shops for the annual There's Something In The Cupcake Mix event. Whether it's the employees' elaborate costumes or the camaraderie of discussing the brand in line, Johnny Cupcakes has turned its Halloween-themed release into one of the brand's most beloved traditions.
For example, during the 2008 There's Something In The Cupcake Mix release event held in Boston, Johnny Earle showed up in the back of a hearse. That happened. Besides the theatrics of the events, the products themselves are typically limited edition and sold in unique packaging. There's Something In The Cupcake Mix is a truly special part of this beloved brand with a cult-like following.
In this article, we look back at the evolution of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix from a basic monster-themed t-shirt release in the mid 2000s to an annual event that Johnny Cupcakes customers look forward to all year.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix (2006)
Released just five years after Johnny Cupcakes was started, the first There's Something In The Cupcake Mix shows its age but remains a favorite among the brand's longtime fans. With designs like a monster listening to an Apple iPod (sold as "Eyepod Earle") and screen prints in unusual placements, if these look like they're from the heyday of emo bands and MySpace, well that's because they are. Since these were released in Johnny Cupcakes' early days, the shirts were hand-numbered to 300. To immerse collectors in the experience of a t-shirt "bakery", Johnny Cupcakes put sprinkles in each of the boxes.
In a prime example of this little brand's boundless creativity, unsold t-shirs from the first There's Something In The Cupcake Mix release were later repurposed and sold as pillows! Johnny Earle has said in interviews that this was due to some of the leftover shirts being damaged while in storage, so the ones that could be salvaged were turned into monsters to cuddle with. Brilliant!
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Series 2 (2007)
I've collected Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts for more than a decade at this point, and I've seen these t-shirts for sale on the secondary market only a handful of times. That's how rare the 2007 release of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix is. With only 150 produced for each of the four monster-themed designs, consider yourself very lucky if you own one of these.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Series 3 (2008)
The 2008 release for There's Something In The Cupcake Mix is probably one of my favorite in terms of the style of design. The third year of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix included four different t-shirt designs inspired by the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, and the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Due to the low edition sizes, these graphic tees are also among the rarest Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts ever released and have previously sold for well over $100 each on eBay.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Series 4 (2009)
The fourth edition of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix is my personal favorite. Designed by famed graphic artist and longtime Johnny Cupcakes collaborator Clark Orr, the 2009 release included four cartoonish designs that are colorful, creepy, and cute all at once. Each shirt was limited to 200 each with the exception of the "Face Snatcher" online exclusive. As became tradition, the shirts were packaged in small cardboard boxes roughly the size of a real cupcake mix box.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Series 5 (2010)
Johnny Cupcakes released their fifth edition of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix t-shirts on October 15, 2010. The 2010 theme was a departure from prior years in that it wasn't uniquely Halloween, although it was definitely creepy in a freak show sort of way. The circus-from-hell-themed t-shirts retailed for $59.99 and of course were inside custom packaging to complete the look. This was also one of the brand's first attempts at selling a mystery t-shirt in which they didn't show anyone the design at the time of release. You had to purchase and open the packaging to see what was inside. Fun!
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix 6 (2011)
Something I appreciate most about the Johnny Cupcakes brand is their ability to constantly reinvent themselves. There's Something In The Cupcake Mix 6 released in October 2010 with four horror movie-themed graphic t-shirts tucked inside plastic VHS cassette packaging. It's the most unique packaging I've ever seen for a t-shirt and I own more than 300 of them.
As in prior years, this release was unveiled at special events held at the brand's Boston and Los Angeles shops. Some collectors camped outside the stores for days to be among the first to own these limited edition t-shirts. Fortunately, the brand captured these fun moments on video for us to enjoy nearly a decade later.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Volume 7 (2014)
After a bit of a hiatus due to the Coffin Tour, in 2014 Johnny Cupcakes introduced packaging made to resemble vintage books for There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Volume 7. In fact, the cardboard box even opened like a book! This release included three different designs illustrated by designer Chris DeLorenzo with t-shirts available for men and women. This release was sold as a bundle of three t-shirts and priced at $80 including the special packaging.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix Fright Club (2015)
The first rule about fright club is you don't talk about fright club. Consider that rule broken for us tell you about the 2015 release of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix. In this release, Johnny Cupcakes went with a punny parody in a monster-themed collection of designs loosely inspired by the movie Fight Club. Sold as a box set, the release included two t-shirts and several accessories in special packaging.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix 9 (2016)
I've never been a huge fan of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I know those who are absolutely adore this 1993 animated classic. Coincidentally, many Johnny Cupcakes collectors are also fans of this film. So the 2016 theme for There's Something In The Mix was very well-received and quickly sold out.
There's Something In The Cupcake Mix (2020)
We'll probably remember 2020 as one of the weirdest (and longest) years of our lives. So it was apropos for the 2020 theme of There's Something In The Cupcake Mix to be inspired by one of the weirdest group of people in pop culture – The Addams Family. The release included three parody t-shirt designs of the spooky characters Wednesday Addams, Uncle Fester, and Morticia Addams. And for the first time, Johnny Cupcakes released the limited edition t-shirts for $49.99 Each in special packaging inspired by the McDonald Boo Buckets from 1980s and '90s.