Ding dong. It's a scene straight out of a horror movie, perhaps even the recently released IT: A scary clown is at the door, clutching an armful of...doughnuts?
That's what's been happening at a handful of doughnut shops throughout the Midwest and Texas recently, but it's all in good (OK, somewhat cruel) fun. A popular regional chain, Hurts Donut Company, is offering a "scary clown delivery" service ahead of Halloween.
A dozen doughnuts from the shop is $15, and then the special clown delivery is just $10 — a small price to pay, we guess, if you have a George Clooney-meets-Stephen King taste for pranks. "Who did something rotten to you that totally deserves this?" an ad reads on one location's Facebook page.
"There's a phobia that comes with clowns, and we're playing off the mock of that fear," Hurts' cofounder Tim Clegg told TODAY.com. "Obviously, we're not out trying to scare people, but helping them to face their fears by delivering something fun."
By day, the 24-hour shops have been getting a lot of requests for office deliveries to co-workers, Clegg said. Come evening, Clegg says many parents have been ordering doughnut-clown deliveries ... straight to their kids' bedrooms.
Slammed doors, deep breaths, and hands clutching hearts are some common reactions, he said. Once you see a box of these babies, though, how could you stay mad?
Known for its unusual-yet-delicious flavors and fun designs like as pineapple-upside-down cake doughnuts, Oreo cheesecake, or the classic, pink "Homer" doughnut named after the beloved Simpsons' patriarch, the rapidly growing franchise, founded in 2013, has also had leprechauns deliver pastries on St. Patrick's Day, cupids on Valentine's Day and bunnies at Easter.
It has even offered the clown delivery a couple of years ago, when it was a much smaller operation, but this year, it just took off, added Clegg, who donned an Easter bunny costume himself for 13 hours a day, back when the company was starting out.
Twelve of the regional chain's 14 shops are participating in the current promotion, which was supposed to be for two days only — but the response has been so overwhelming, the service will almost certainly continue up to Halloween, Clegg said.
Hurts Donut has locations in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas and Arkansas and even one in Arizona.
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But why are clowns so intrinsically creepy, anyway? Well, there's the whole hidden-face thing, and the exaggerated features, for starters, psychologists recently told TODAY.
Plus, "if someone smiles at you all the time," David L. Kupfer, a clinical psychologist in Falls Church, Virginia, added, "you don’t trust them."