The 19 Most Bizarre Candy Cane Flavors

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Even candy companies aren't immune to the enormous popularity of foods like pickles, bacon, and pizza. Recently, some have even figured out a way to bring those well-loved flavors into their seasonal line-up with a number of truly bizarre combinations of sweet and savory confections. 

A few manufacturers, like Seattle Washington's Archie McPhee, have gone above and beyond with outside-the-candy-box thinking, and their Christmas offerings are no exception. Even more old-school Hammond's Candies, a Denver institution since 1920, has gotten into the non-traditional flavor game, albeit not in such an outrageous way. 

Peppermint might be the quintessential candy cane flavor, but if that's not your thing, don't you worry. We've got some pretty wacky options for you and your loved ones, as long as you've got some fearless tastebuds.


Pickles have a historical relationship with Christmas, so a pickle-flavored candy cane might not even be that much of a crazy-flavor stretch. The German tradition of hanging a "Christmas Pickle" on your tree has gained lots of traction in the US and it only seems natural that other pickle-themed holiday items would follow. That's not to say that pickle-flavored candy is a terrific idea, although manufacturer Archie McPhee posits that they're a great alternative for consumers who don't have much of a sweet tooth. Tangy and dill-forward, the treats still have enough sugar to make them actually taste like candy ... but still candy that also tastes like pickles. Expect a definite punch of briny vinegar and dill with a sweet edge that lives up to the confectionary angle.


After pickle, this flavor came up most often in searches for non-traditional candy cane flavors. And why wouldn't it? Bacon still reigns supreme with American consumers, so much so that an entire industry has sprung up around the ubiquitous foodstuff to cater to people who just can't get enough of the salty, smoky delight (via TIME). Obviously, candy canes had to get in on the success of the most beloved pork product too. The bacon canes come in a traditional red and white stripe, a clever coloring choice that certainly suggests to us the possibility of playing some pretty hilarious candy pranks with unsuspecting loved ones. That is, until they unwrap one of these babies and get a whiff of sweet, sweet bacon.


Frankly, pizza candy canes didn't surprise us that much because everybody loves pizza. It's a go-to for so many people that what actually surprised us was that it took someone this long to make it into candy. But that doesn't mean we think they were right to have done it. Like the ketchup flavor, the sweetness of pizza's tomato sauce will play well with the sugariness of candy to a point. But that's where these two flavors part ways; the pizza candy canes are described by David Wahl, Archie McPhee's Director of Awesome (seriously), in an interview with Today, as being cheesy with notes of pizza herbs like oregano. The cheesy richness gives us pause, but it might just entice you to try one with a lovely glass of classic Chianti on the side.


If bacon is too trendy but you're still drawn to the porcine food group, there's always good old-fashioned brown sugar-glazed ham-flavored candy. There aren't many online reviews for McPhee's hamdy canes (yes ... that's what they're actually called), but we did find this little gem — a review by the company's very own staff members, including Kyle who says that this candy has a distinct hammy smell. We're only sharing this info because we feel that if you're the kind of person who is legitimately thinking about buying savory candy canes, then you're not going to be put off by such powerful descriptors. Just a warning about the video — things get pretty freaky when actual mayonnaise is introduced to the tasting party, so be prepared to feel a lot of emotions all at once.

Caesar Salad

What this massive list of wacky, mostly savory, and occasionally questionable candy canes flavors has been missing so far is a ton of garlic and a sprinkling of pungent, hard cheese — right? Thankfully, McPhee's came up with their Caesar salad contribution, ensuring intrepid flavor hounds could have a side dish candy to go with their entrée candy of choice. The true beauty of these bright green gems is that every inch stays crunchy (unlike a sadly overdressed crouton) with a pleasingly creamy garlic flavor. They also claim to have a whisper of lettuce and anchovy. Did we forget to mention the anchovies? Oh yeah, they're in there baby. The manufacturer itself doesn't even have a good reason for this possible abomination. We don't need to be told twice.

Hot Dog

Okay, okay. One last pig-centric candy for the road. If you often find middle-school cafeteria food or baseball stadium standards dancing in your head while everyone else is dreaming of sugarplums, then you're in luck. Another entry from wacky treat emporium, Archie McPhee, the hot dog candy cane takes those good old stuffed meat tubes and loads them up with tablespoons of sugar — perfect for Christmas, we think. For extra nostalgic lunchtime vibes, you could even double-fist this delicacy with another uncommon (and likely unasked for) flavor like mac and cheese (don't worry, we're getting to that one). These also come in a non-threatening color scheme, so we double-dog dare you to slip just one of these bad boys in with the rest of your regular canes and wait for the festive fun to start.


McPhee goes beyond just synthesizing all your favorite prepared foods and has introduced a few base ingredients to their candy cane lineup, including butter. And, to be honest, this one doesn't really sound so bad. Some of the best things in life are buttery and sugary, so what could possibly go wrong? You probably shouldn't expect that it's going to taste just like Mom's sugar cookies or that it even has loads of intense flavor, but we trust that it also doesn't have a lot of weird meat or vegetable vibes. And it probably won't leave any greasy fingerprints all over your good pants, either. There isn't much info on these little sunshine-yellow beauties out there — we assume it's because this flavor is just embarrassing enough that those who love it are definitely keeping it to themselves.

Sour Cream and Onion

The holidays are a super busy time for everybody, so free up your hands to do something productive instead of just mindlessly dunking handfuls of chips into a savory sour cream and onion dip. Although, based on the box illustrations, we feel like this candy cane probably tastes solely like dip, so don't expect an undertone of pleasantly bland potato chips to smooth out any overtly tangy edges. We're certainly not averse to a big old bowl of sour cream onion dip ourselves — personally, we love it with dill and crème frâiche because we're fancy like that. But we might draw the line at something that McPhee calls a "testament to your courage." Hmmm, maybe multitasking isn't so bad after all.


Gravy might just be the condiment to beat all other condiments. Nothing else screams the arrival of the holidays like that lush brown drizzle, aside from candy canes (obviously). Add that beloved topping to a sweet and you've got yourself a holiday hero. Meaty, salty, and sugary is the trifecta of traditional snack perfection and these gravy-flavored Christmas treats have an excess of all three. The sticky, meaty curiosities have also been infused with a generous souçon of herbs, just like momma's turkey gravy. Manufacturer McPhee suggests that leaving one of these for Santa, instead of cookies, will get you a better pile of presents, but we wouldn't take their word for it. Santa's definitely always seemed like a peppermint bark man to us, for what it's worth.


Perhaps the most truly bizarre entry on the list, sardine is the flavor that absolutely no one ever asked for. Fortunately, a handful of tireless reviewers have weighed in for us so we didn't have to guess just how bad they might be. Overall, they suggest that the candy doesn't really taste like sardines; instead, they have a different terrible flavor that no one was really able to put their finger on. Does that make it better or worse? Since we can only assume that you'd be buying this as a prank gift, we're also going to assume that a divinely tasty, true fishy essence isn't what you're after anyway. The packaging on this one is awfully cute though, with that festive little fellow dressed for dinner.


If you've been eating the right ketchup all your life, you might already suspect that it's already pretty close to just being squeezable candy. Except that it's pretty messy and you look like an absolute weirdo slurping it right out of the bottle. Again, trust candy makers to come to the rescue. Ketchup candy canes even look like regular (and by regular, we mean boring) peppermint Christmas treats but taste like a sweet and tangy tomato snack. You can hide your favorite indulgence right under their noses and no one will be the wiser, at least until someone gets a whiff of your ketchup breath. Just in case you do get caught, remember that tomatoes are technically a fruit (rather than a vegetable) so it's really not all that gross after all.


There's very little that anyone could say to convince us that this particular plant-based flavor was a good idea. Shiitakes might be the most mushroomy of all the mushrooms available, but nothing about the gloriously earthy fungus suggests a delicious candy to us. In our heart of hearts, we feel this one might have just been created to give McPhee an outlet for dozens of "fun guy" jokes. Fair enough, but just don't expect us to eat them. Even though this product has garnered 4.2 out of 5 stars, the majority of reviews mention that the horrible taste makes them perfect for gag gifts (yes, pun intended, we're sorry to say). Otherwise, the best thing people had to say about them was that the color combination goes beautifully with their woodland-themed Christmas decor.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is iconic, no matter how you look at it. The ultimate comfort food, it's a nostalgic favorite, a weeknight staple, or a holiday side dish, and we've all got our feelings about the classic carby masterpiece. Then, someone like adorable oddball Archie McPhee goes and adds a lot of sugar to it, making it super-portable and a lot stickier than it has any right to be. Mac and cheese candy canes exist, like it or not, and according to Today, lots of people really, really don't like them. The manufacturer describes the flavor as tasting more like out-of-box, instant mac and cheese, rather than the creamy and delicious, homestyle mac and cheese most of us crave, so maybe these would be more appealing to the juice-box and chicken finger crowd, after all.


Possibly the prettiest color combo on the list, these pho canes from McPhee's also have a rather adorable mascot. A winsome bowl of noodles and broth might not be the best reason to try these, though. We assume that these will have a lovely green herby taste from basil and lemongrass, so you might truly like this one if those flavors are up your street. While an incredibly aromatic, hot bowl of true Vietnamese pho is an absolute delight, we're not sure how close it will get to that phenomenal dish, without any overpowering weirdness or lingering aftertaste. Sweet pho just seems odd. These did receive a fairly positive nod from SFGate, with the reviewer acquiescing that the candy had a decent balance of flavors and sweetness.


If you're still searching for more meaty options on this list, you're in luck. How does a big, sugary stick of beefy brisket-flavored candy sound? That's what we thought ... everyone goes nuts for a lovingly prepared, richly-flavored pile of tender brisket. But if the idea of slow-cooking a huge slab of tough meat until it turns melting soft seems like far too much trouble, try these little flavor bombs instead. While these won't feed your entire family for days, as an actual brisket would, they do require much less effort. Very little effort, in fact. Crack open a box and pass around a few sticks of premium bovine candy and see if anyone complains about not getting any real dinner. We doubt it, y'all.


After all the other carb and protein-heavy offerings on this list, McPhee decided to turn its attention to another uber-trendy, yet powerful, comestible. Superfood kale gets turned into a superbly virtue-less version of itself when it gets loaded with sugar and shrink-wrapped in plastic. We assume that this one at least has some fresh green flavors, a hint of bitterness, or maybe even some comforting earthiness to it, all tempered with some mind-blowing sweetness. Like a true match made in veggie heaven! As with all the other McPhee's unusual (some might even say wackadoo) flavors, these outrageous sweets are available in packages of six individually wrapped canes. Perfect for spreading the joy of the season to people you're not crazy about, like your snarky vegetarian brother-in-law with the full head of hair.

Naughty or Nice

How are you supposed to know who behaved this year and who didn't without asking loads of personal questions and sneakily reading hours of their most private emails? Hammond's Naughty or Nice canes are willing to do the work for you. Hand 'em out before you start your gift list and then let candy decide — two identical-looking candy canes but with two distinctly different flavors. Licorice or strawberry lets you know who gets the goods and who gets, well, probably just more grody black licorice. These gorgeously handmade canes rely on the fact that many people truly hate the taste of black licorice, using it to their advantage and placing it alongside a more genial strawberry flavor. Although, if you have a family that considers black licorice a "good" taste, you're on your own. 

Bah, Humbug

Perfect for all the cranky crabs in your life, the Bah, Humbug! cane is a large (10 ¼ inch) stick of pure sugar that will give them nothing to complain about, unlike everything else in their life. Colorless, flavorless, and joyless, it's also a pretty decent size for brandishing at unwanted guests or using as a sneaking hook for stealing the kid's full stockings. Seriously ... it doesn't even taste like those old-school, stripey, boiled sweets of the same name that are favored by grans everywhere. This dental-destroying colossus is just one large, unhappily saccharine, unwieldy mass of sugar, making it a perfect gift for the person on your list with few redeeming qualities of their own. It's not even wrapped very nicely, which suits Scrooge just fine.


Twinkies, on the whole, have a bit of a reputation as an iconic snack that Americans have munched for decades. We doubt that a hard candy version of a sweet, cream-filled sponge cake will ever live up to its namesake, but that doesn't mean we won't snap up the first box we see this year ... for research, of course. This particular confection might not be a bizarre flavor but the absence of cream-filling just doesn't make any sense to us. The retro-styled, red, white, and blue colored box instantly induced nostalgia in our candy-loving hearts, just making us want it even more. At the time of writing, it looks like the candy is found online only through Hilco Sweets, but scores of intrepid shoppers are using social media to show off what they've managed to find in stores. 


A clove candy cane certainly doesn't sound bad, honestly, but it is pretty unexpected when you're just looking for the traditional sweet and minty treat. Hammond's customers actually request this one quite often, so somebody out there seems to enjoy the slightly spicy, old-fashioned taste of clove candy. We think these would actually make a pretty decent pre-Christmas treat — you know, like an autumnal warm-up before the big season. And of all the options on this list, this is one of the very few that we can imagine using up the leftover candy canes in some pretty decent holiday baking. Please consider this surprisingly appealing entry as our friendly attempt to make up for some of the absolutely undeniable atrocities we've included on this list.