Just how pervasive is pop culture? Let's put it this way: Halloween would be nothing this year without Lady Gaga and Snooki from "Jersey Shore."
The top Halloween costumes for 2010 include characters from "Avatar," "Toy Story 3" and "Alice in Wonderland" as well as Disney perennials such as Tinkerbell, Pocahontas and assorted princess-types. But bigger news is the emergence of reality-show stars, including Dog the Bounty Hunter, Pauly D, Kat Von D and Kim Kardashian, and the continued dominance of Lady Gaga.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend $10 more this year on candy, decorations and costumes. That's $66.28 per person, up from last year's $56.31, for a total of $5.8 billion. Of that at least $2 billion will be spent on costumes, with four out of 10 Americans planning to dress up on Halloween or the days that surround it. That's the highest percentage in the four years that costume buying has been tracked. Truly amazing is that an estimated 11.5 percent are expected to put costumes on their pets!
Yahoo's most-searched category also includes more traditional entries such as witches, pirates, "Star Wars" characters and vampires. Party City, which has 600 stores nationwide including Pittsburgh, puts modern-day vampires inspired by the "Twilight" saga and "True Blood" at the top of its best-sellers. MTV's "Jersey Shore" is another huge influence, with sleazy clothes, big hair and phony pecs available for "Situations" who lack the real thing.
While the National Retail Federation predicts Buzz Lightyear and Disney princesses will be the top choice for boys and girls, Marvel Comics characters such as Iron Man and Spider-Man are another strong entry.
But it's Lady Gaga and her many looks stealing the day, especially her meat dress, bubble and poker face. The pop star's outrageous ensembles made her a costume favorite last year as well, when many fans put together their own interpretations. Now Party City is stocking a host of Gaga accessories, including bow-shaped wigs and more complete costumes to help the less creative, including her white belly-baring outfit from the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Lady Gaga even has her own site, ladygaga.com, that sells official Gaga costumes, wigs and accessories.
There are ripples of other trends, including retro costumes such as Gumby or those inspired by old TV shows including "I Love Lucy," "The Brady Bunch" and "Sesame Street." And then there are the fringe costumes for those with a dark sense of humor: Lindsay Lohan in jail attire; Antoine Dodson, the YouTube sensation who inspired the "Bed Intruder" song; and the Chilean coal miners (their costume searches on Yahoo! increased 475 percent when they were rescued).
According to Yahoo! the top five general costume searches in Pittsburgh in the past month were sexy, kids, homemade, adult and plus-size. But hey, nationwide our own Troy Polamalu made Yahoo's list of most searched, coming in fourth behind No. 1 Snooki and No. 2 Lady Gaga in the wigs category.
Marylynn Uricchio: email@example.com or 412-263-1582.