Founded in 1937, Ben Cooper, Inc. was originally a Vaudeville and masquerade costume company in New York City, founded by brothers Ben and Nat Cooper. They became the largest and most prominent Halloween costume manufacturers in the United States. Its costumes were generally very thin fabric with a silk-screened image on the front. Ben Cooper sold its costumes through large retailers such as J. C. Penney, Sears, Woolworth’s, and five-and-dime stores. Costumes often sold for $1.25. In 1982, about a month before Halloween, one young girl and six adults died in the Chicago area after taking Extra Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. To this day, the FBI doesn’t know who was behind the tampered medicine, but the incident set off a nationwide panic, not just in the pharmaceutical industry, but in the Halloween industry as well. Parents worried that, if someone could poison unsuspecting consumers with bottles of Tylenol, he or she could do the same thing with candy. This downturn in sales ultimately leads to their demise. The company spent 10 months a year manufacturing costumes that were used one night a year. The loss of sale was catastrophic. October 30, 1991, Ben Cooper, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was bought by Rubie’s Costume Co. in 1992. Products made by Ben Cooper, Inc. remain highly collectible. Collectors primarily look for the boxed costumes with the mask. Ira Cooper, son of original co-founder Nat Cooper, and his partner Jon Miller planed on relaunching the company in 2018.

When the live-action Batman series in 1966 starring Adam West and Burt Ward became a national phenomenon and catapulted superheroes into the limelight, Ben Cooper wisely secured the licenses to the most popular comic book characters in the industry (they even quietly trademarked the word “Super Hero” that same year for only $35.00 which surprisingly neither DC and Marvel opposed the registration possibly due to not even noticing it).
An early Ben Cooper costume ad from Woolworth in 1967.