Hitting a few Halloween parties next week? Don't be surprised if you see a Big Bird flapper holding a binder full of women.
The Big Bird costume, inspired by the presidential debates earlier this month, is so popular it has virtually disappeared from store shelves nationwide. Unless you're willing to fight for a triple-digit priced version on eBay, you better get creative. This is a DIY costume.
In the first debate, Mitt Romney said he would likely cut funding to public broadcasting -- including his much-loved Big Bird on "Sesame Street" -- as a means of reducing the deficit. A week later, in the second debate, he told Americans a story about a job opening on his staff that drew only male candidates.
When he instructed his staff to launch a search for equally qualified female candidates, "they came back with a binder full of women," he said. Something about the odd phrase, or perhaps the image of women crammed into a Trapper Keeper, stuck, and, within minutes, the phrase was trending worldwide on Twitter, and instructions on how to make a life-size binder out of refrigerator boxes flooded YouTube.
Combined, the incidents were enough to prompt Kellie Bloom, a Palo Alto mother of two, to toss the black witch hat she usually dons on Halloween for something more creative, and statement-making.
"I'm dressing up as Big Bird and my boyfriend is going to wear a Mitt Romney mask and hold a three-ring binder full of Barbie dolls," says Bloom, who is 49 and plans to attends a Halloween block party in her neighborhood.
The costume, which she bought online, is essentially a flapper-style yellow dress made out of plush yellow fabric with striped pink and orange leggings and a headpiece with Big Bird's beak and feathers.
"It's pretty fun," says Bloom, who works in telecommunications sales. "There's so much fodder during this year's debates. Every time they open their mouths there's something we can use."
Brand manager Maddie Gerety of Poway-based Disguise, one of the country's largest manufacturers of Halloween costumes, says they were sold out of Big Bird costumes within days of that first debate.
"If we could have known that he (Romney) was going to say 'Big Bird' in a debate we would've stock piled the costumes, obviously," Gerety says. Disguise is the official licensee of "Sesame Street" costumes. They are sold at Spirit, Party City, Target, and Walmart stores, among others. "'Sesame' is a children's property, so there's only so many adult costumes we had on hand anyway."
What if they had known President Barack Obama would comment about horses and bayonets in the third debate? Are they rolling out those costumes in time for Oct. 31? The president's comment referred to how much our military system has advanced since 1917.
"Well, the majority of our costumes are made in China so there's no way we could jump on that," Gerety says. "But we do have a horse costume. So you'd just have to make a bayonet. It would make a great couple's costume. People just need to get creative."
And they are, says Lisa Barr, Spirit Halloween's New Jersey-based senior director of marketing. "People are passionate about politics and I don't think it's uncommon to see these kind of costumes, whether it's a way to mock the candidate or show support for him," she says. "I've heard some people are going to throw a bunch of women's garments into a binder and carry that around while wearing a Romney mask with a beak on it. They're getting really creative."