Seriously, Candy Canes?

Sometime last summer I wrote a journal post about Kit Kat candy bars in Japan. Unlike the way they are marketed in the United States, where there is basically a single flavor, milk chocolate, in Japan they come in all kinds of flavors such as strawberry cheesecake, blueberry, saki and even wasabi. We were quite amused by the many different flavors in many Japanese stores. I also noted in that column that part of the sales strategy of the candy in Japan was definitely aimed at tourists. After touring all around Japan, from Aomori in the north to Hiroshima in the south, the only place we found wasabi flavored Kit Kat candies was in the gift shop in the departure area of the Tokyo airport.

This week, however, I have decided that the Japanese have nothing on those of us in the United States when it comes to weird flavors. If you are into strange flavors in candy, you really don’t have to go beyond Jelly Belly band jelly beans. Buttered Popcorn is distinct form Caramel Corn. Chili Mango isn’t the only spicy flavor. If Cinnamon isn’t spicy enough for you, they have Sizzling Cinnamon. For strawberry lovers there’s Strawberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Daiquiri and Strawberry Jam. They have a whole lineup of Krispy Kreme Doughnut flavors, another group of Cold Stone ice cream flavors, and their Cocktail Classics beans. They have “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans based on the Harry Potter books. Flavors in that assortment include Booger, Dirt, Earthworm, Earwax, Grass, Rotten Egg, Sausage, Soap and Vomit among others. It is almost enough to get even a confirmed jelly bean eater like me to give up the candy.

This week I discovered another area where our country seems to have gone off the rails when it comes to candy flavors.

There are certain areas of life where I am a traditionalist. I like traditions. I love exploring the history of traditions. I often speak of church traditions in my sermons and my journal posts. For around 200 years, one of the Christmas candies has been candy canes. The red and white striped candies with the distinctive hook at the top are peppermint flavored and can be found hanging on Christmas trees, decorating centerpieces, in bowls and mixed among trays of other Christmas candies.

As an aside, if you eat the hooked end of the candy first, you are just strange and perhaps should consider turning the candy around and eating it properly.

At any rate, I’m in favor of the peppermint candy canes and see no need for other flavors. A few years ago, I noticed that there were a few strange flavors sneaking in. The first one I remember is root bear candy canes. I like root beer and the root beer ones aren’t bad. But I still prefer my root beer candies to be shaped like little kegs and see no reason for them to be candy cane shapes.

Root beer has been joined by Dr. Pepper and Orange Crush. I’m not sure of the advantage of having soda pop flavors in candy. Soda pop is pretty much liquid candy as it is with the high sugar content of most of those beverages.

And they didn’t stop there. Coffee flavored candy canes are sweeter than I like my coffee, but I don’t drink that much coffee any more. I don’t associate coffee with children and candy canes are really a children’s candy in my mind. Like the soda pop flavors, I just don’t see the need for it.

If you want a real treat, make a good cup of hot chocolate and stir it with a traditional peppermint candy cane. That’s a great flavor combination.

And there are more flavors of candy canes, mostly not good ideas.

Oreo cookie candy canes are basically chocolate flavored with a hint of vanilla cream. But they are sure to be a hit with children for the simple fact that they turn the tongue and inside of the mouth black. A room full of children sticking out their tongues and saying, “look at me!” isn’t my favorite way to celebrate a holiday, but the kids seem to like ti.

I haven’t done so yet, but I think you could persuade me to try dill pickle candy canes. At least they are a traditional color of Christmas. I can imagine a tree with red and white traditional candy canes and green and white pickle candy canes. It might look pretty good. I like a little vinegar with sweet flavors and a bit of dill meets peppermint might be a good combination. I haven’t tried them, but I’m keeping an open mind.

There are, however some flavors that I intend to avoid.

I’m going to leave bacon candy canes on the shelf for others to buy. I’m not sure, but I suspect that they have a bit of smoky flavor with a hint of ham thrown in. Those aren’t the flavors I’m seeking when I go for sweets. Ditto for Rotisserie Chicken. I’ll leave that one in the box as well. I suspect that the flavors are actually quite close. It’s easy to add liquid smoke to the candy. The idea of either sort of turns me off, frankly.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for me to buy Mac ’n’ Cheese candy canes, either. I like cheese, but the stuff they put on most boxed Mac ’n’ Cheese is some kind of yellow powder that bears little resemblance to real cheese. It reminds me of the parmesan that comes in a green shaker. I guess it’s cheese, but it’s not like freshly grated parmesan at all. And cheese has a distinct odor. It’s not what I want to be smelling when I bring a candy cane to my lips. Thank you very much, I’ll leave that one alone.

So far we’ve avoided candy canes in our house this Christmas, and, after reading about candy cane flavors on the Internet, I’m not inclined to get any. Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and may all your candy canes be peppermint.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!