When a Donald Trump look-alike rings the doorbell on Halloween night, he or she may solicit a piece of candy but the treat they really seek is recognition. Pop culture experts say "ripped from the headlines" costumes to celebrate the 31 October holiday - such as Cecil the lion - are a way for adults to connect in a world full of a myriad choices for information and entertainment.

"We do have a lot of overlap between the two, both of, more traditional sell really well, pop culture sells really well. And our top ten costumes it's a big mix between the two," said Sarah Chamberlain, Website strategist for Yandy.com.

While children typically dress up as witches and ghosts, the most popular costume this year among adults shopping on Yandy.com is The Optical Illusion Dress, the subject of an online debate that went viral over its colour. The hot seller is a compromise: half blue and black, half white and gold.

Also in high demand is Pizza Rat - a grey mini dress with a tail, hood, ears and two pepperoni pizza slice pockets - that is arguably sexier than the video of a New York City rat dragging a pizza slice down subway steps, shared more than 100,000 times on Twitter. The site is turning the killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the Lion by an American dentist into a good cause.

"We were actually already making a lion costume this year and we decided, you know, when everything happened with Cecil, we wanted to do something good with it. So we're offering 20% of the proceeds, which is basically all of our profits, are going to a wildlife charity. And it has this great furry hood, fun little romper and of course the little lion tail. A little sexiness with the romper bottom," said Chamberlain.

Some costumes are meant to touch a nerve, but some vendors say there are lines they will not cross. New York-based store Abracadabra and Yandy.com both decided against carrying a Caitlyn Jenner costume, featuring a shiny white padded bustier resembling the outfit the Olympic gold medallist and reality TV star wore to come out as transgender. Politicians are typically fair game and Yandy is having fun with its Donald Trump-like costume.

"This is our Donna T Rumpshaker. We have the cute little booty shorts, and the little tie, and the little jacket, so that's the complete package. And then you can buy the wig and the hat separately. Our 'Making America Great' hat, of course our traditional iconic blonde wig, that we have here."

Additional reporting by Reuters