Editor's note: This story is part of CL's upcoming Horror Issue, which hits stands Oct. 12.
No one — and I mean no one — is too old to get into the Halloween spirit. Even if you don't plan on dressing up for the spooky occasion, there are plenty of holiday treats to go around in Tampa Bay — everything from cotton candy that resembles cobwebs to a purple-colored mutant waffle topped with ice cream, starting now. Tricks not included.
After all, it's all about the sweets this time of year, whether you're headed to a friend's costume party or your couch for a horror movie marathon.
Alessi Bakery Spine-chilling cakes that come decorated in creep-tastic varieties like monster brains and tombstones (pumpkin-shaped cakes are available for the scaredy cats). Cookie lovers can choose from Frankenstein, ghosts or cats. And the zombie gingerbread cookies sound like they were made for snacking in between trick-or-treater doorbell rings. $1.95-$40 & up. 2909 W. Cypress St., Tampa, 813-879-4544, alessibakery.com.
Bake n' Babes Take home this Hall on Franklin bakery's bloody red velvet cupcakes and pumpkin whoopie pies, or scarf 'em down on-site. Be on the lookout for other Halloween specials throughout October, too. $4-$4.25. 1701 N. Franklin St., Tampa, 813-405-4008, bakenbabes.com.
Cake Affection A lineup of holiday delights — among them gourmet cupcakes with edible toppers, organic cotton candy as creepy cobwebs (little spiders and all), and cake pops featuring eyeballs, mummies and ghosts. Loafers receive a 5 percent discount when they mention "CL" at checkout. $2.75-$5. 4901 100th Way N., St. Petersburg, 727-800-9000, cakeaffection.com.
Chef Inspired Popcorn Company Put a twist on another Halloween movie night staple with Chef Inspired Popcorn, which recently relocated from SoHo to Bay to Bay Boulevard (next to Joe and Son's Olive Oils). Fit-for-the-season selections include pumpkin spice, pumpkin caramel and caramel espresso. The recently relocated shop's Oct. 31 happy hour features buy one, get one bags of popcorn from 4 to 6 p.m., and trick-or-treaters in costume also land a sample size of Spooktacular, a mix of the black cherry, orange and grape flavors. Regular and specialty sizes vary in price. 3204 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa, 813-559-1292, cipopcorn.com.
Chocolate Pi Candy corn, candy apple and kettle corn are the Epicurean Hotel confectionery's new macaron offerings. Available by the slice or as a 6-inch round, the Skellington — pumpkin cake with pumpkin ganache and cream cheese icing — is sure to be frightfully good. $2-$45 & up. 1205 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, 813-831-2195, sweetchocolatepi.com.
The Cupcake Spot Need a sweet fix for Halloween? Pumpkin and coffee are among the flavor options. $34 for a dozen. 405 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-825-0572, thecupcakespotinc.com.
Dough Expect a variety of themed cupcakes from this ante-upping South Tampa bakery (think ghosts, mummies and spiders), plus eyeball, Frankenstein, jack-o'-lantern, spiderweb and vampire doughnuts. $1.99-$4.99. 2602 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-902-1979, bestdoughnuts.com.
Farmacy Vegan Kitchen + Bakery Pumpkin-infused vegan goodies — that're sometimes gluten-free — galore. Offerings include pumpkin spice blondies packed with healthy fats and protein; maple-pumpkin doughnuts (and, OK, non-pumpkin flavors such as German chocolate); and chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. $3-$4. 803 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 786-214-0671, farmacyvegankitchen.com.
The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops Fall highlights of this gourmet popsicle purveyor are pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, maple mamey and creamy walnut. From Oct. 27 till Halloween, patrons who stop in wearing a costume receive one free chocolate dip to accompany their order. $3.75. 627 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-498-6536, thehyppo.com.
Kings Street Food Counter Available till month's end, the featured shake is none other than pumpkin spice. 937 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-914-2111, kingsdtsp.com.
Sweet! 'Cakes from this downtown St. Pete cupcake bar, which also owns the next-door Cupcake Spot, go "boo!" with ghost and spiderweb shapes topping flavors like vanilla red velvet and Billion Dollar Chocolate. $34 for a dozen. 405 Central Ave., 727-498-8587, sweetstpetersburg.com.
Urban Creamery Indulge in Urban's new caramel marshmallow-pumpkin spice ice cream, which arrives with orange whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and marshmallow sauce on top of a purple-colored mutant waffle. $9.50. 689 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-895-5953, urbancreamerystpete.com.
Whatever Pops & Bowls I'm sure the zombie-flavored popsicle — a combination of yogurt, raspberry and Oreos — won't turn you into one of those living-dead characters from The Walking Dead. Pretty sure, anyway. $3.75. 5127 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-559-7677, whateverpops.com.