A rundown of the most absurdist candy cane flavors

Appreciated for their sheer breadth of flavors and stocking stuffer potential, candy canes have come a long way

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published December 17, 2022 4:30PM (EST)

Candy Canes On Green Background (Getty Images/Daniela Simona Temneanu/EyeEm)
Candy Canes On Green Background (Getty Images/Daniela Simona Temneanu/EyeEm)

For years and years, candy canes have been a comfortable, fixed component of the holiday landscape of iconic images: their brittle snap, their cling-wrap plastic exterior, their red-and-white colors indicative of their flavoring and a clear reference to Santa Claus himself. 

They're also multi-purpose: Some let the candy cane sit in their mouths like a lollipop, some crush them and use them to top lattes or lava cakes, and others never open nor eat them whatsoever and instead use them for decorating or DIY ornaments. Regardless of how they're used, they represent a sort of holiday-adjacent stability amidst the tenuousness of everyday life. They are one of the many, many items that reliably come back around, year after year, holding a place in both your home and heart.

When I was younger, I was partial to those brightly colored canes (they were also usually blue, yellow and green in addition to the red and white) that had a more sweet, amorphous flavor instead of the pronounced mint. Since then, though, the world of candy canes has become more diverse than ever. For those who fancy themselves real candy cane enthusiasts, the wackier the flavor, the better.

Some of these flavors are clearly designed for their shock value, while others are more akin to this meme, posing a potentially interesting flavor that might actually be kind of delicious. From pickle and Caesar salad to butter and even shiitake mushroom, today's candy canes run the gamut, serving as gag gifts, stocker stuffers and surprisingly tasty treats.

One thing remains static regardless of flavor, size or color: the hook shape of the cane itself. While the flavors and colors have shifted exponentially, and the sizes vary — some canes are enormous and some are tiny — the shape itself hasn't changed in quite some time.

The history of the candy cane is pretty fuzzy — filled with conjecture and speculation — but the shape itself is thought to come from a church in 17th century Germany fashioning candy sticks into hooks to look like a shepherd's staff, according to Thought Co. As The Conversation notes, the original candy canes were likely plain white, with the customary red stripes not added until years later, probably around "the turn of the 20th century."

Since then, the candy cane itself remained relatively static, until recent years when notions of differing, unique flavors (i.e caramel macchiato) to help expand the flavors of the cherished candy began to enter the genre. That was soon followed by "ew"-type novelty gifts, perfect for the holiday season. And the rest is history.


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A company called Archie McPhee's boasts a bunch of wacky-flavored candy canes, including rotisserie chicken, "hamdy" canes, ketchup, macaroni and cheese, brisket, pho (!) and "clamdy canes." They also sell candy canes that are based on trendy foods like pickles and bacon. They even sell a "Bah, Hambug!" candy cane which has, according to their website, "no flavor, color or Christmas spirit."

Some other flavors sold by other companies are molded after sodas like Dr. Pepper, strange ingredients like wasabi, or candy or snack-flavored iterations like Swedish Fish, Hot Tamales, Nerds, Sour Patch Kids or Oreos. Other flavors include Funfetti, gravy, birthday cake and Froot Loops. There's even a kale-flavored option.

There really is no limit to the absurdity of the flavors. 

At their core, though, what do they offer? A classic candy cane is nostalgic, retro, respectable. But that doesn't mean that there's no space for these silly flavored canes.

These novelty flavors are good for a joke, a chuckle, or a silly Secret Santa gift with an affordable price tag. No one is going to be selling you on the fact that an especially ludicrously-flavored candy cane deserves praise for its culinary nuance, but that's okay. These are a fun way to celebrate the holidays, your favorite food, or simply an item that isn't even opened or tried, just appreciated for its sheer outrageousness. They're also perfect stocking stuffers, really. 

Celebrate as you wish! I won't begrudge you if that includes gifting all of your family, friends and loved ones a medley of pho and sardine candy canes. 

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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Candy Cane Candy Canes Christmas Food Holidays Peppermint