Several companies are putting a new twist on candy canes with unconventional flavor offerings like hot dogs, brisket and sardines.
While the holiday treat typically comes in a minty flavor, now other varieties such as ketchup, brisket, cherry, bubble gum, clove, mango chili, sour cream and onion, and Caesar salad have all hit shelves this year.
After the 2021 peppermint shortage, many companies are attempting to produce candy canes with a variety of tastes, reported Axios.
The shortage, which was caused by a drop in peppermint oil as well as supply chain issues, forced manufacturers to expand flavors and create a wide-ranging variety of non-peppermint candy canes.
One company, Archie McPhee, really thought outside the box and developed a sardine-flavored treat — and, yes, people eat them according to the company’s president David Wahl.
The company is also responsible for other odd flavors like macaroni and cheese, pickles, bacon, kale, hot dogs, sour cream and onion, and butter.
Wahl said the pickles-flavored candy cane is their best seller.
“My dream would be just like Willy Wonka to do a full meal of candy canes, where you started with the appetizer and worked your way to dessert,” Wahl told HeraldNet.
Last year, the ruling flavors were pumpkin spice and Funfetti, but this year has brought unique flavors like Hostess’ Twinkie or Brach’s “Holiday Heat” canes, which come in watermelon chili, mango chili and pineapple chili.
The trend of making candy taste like other things has been growing steadily, Axios reported.
“Over the past 20-plus years, there’s been an increasing amount of innovation in candy canes,” said Katie Duffy, vice president and general manager of seasonal products at Ferrara, which makes Brach’s candy.
A survey conducted by the National Confectioners Association said that 78% of those surveyed found that they still like the original peppermint flavor, while 28% said they felt adventurous about new flavors.
“I think everybody’s interested in something new,” said Andrew Schuman, president of Hammond’s Candies.
“There have been a lot of gimmicks that come through,” Schuman said. “Pickle flavored, ketchup flavored — that’s not our style.”
While flavors are evolving, the “J” shape of candy canes has largely stayed the same. The design was first created around the year 1670 by a German choirmaster who gave students candy to keep them quiet.
The hook was later added to make “the stick resemble a staff, a religious reference,” according to Susan Benjamin, author of “Sweet as Sin: The Unwrapped Story of How Candy Became America’s Pleasure.”