Candy canes spark happy memories of the winter holidays for many. But will Millennials and Gen Z kids one day look back fondly on … clam-flavored and macaroni-and-cheese-flavored candy canes? Both flavors are new from Seattle’s wonderfully wacky Archie McPhee pop-culture store, and since that store is 10 minutes from my home, I had to try them.
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If you ever visit Seattle, head to Archie McPhee’s physical store, located in the lively Wallingford neighborhood. (Until you get here in person, you can order online.) Where else will you find a rubber-chicken museum, an inflatable unicorn horn for your cat, finger-puppet zombies, and gravy-flavored candy?
Recently, the store earned a lot of publicity for one of its new products, the macaroni and cheese flavored candy canes. But when I stopped in, staff told me about another new variety, and I find it pretty fishy that other media haven’t picked up on it. The other new flavor for 2018 is clam candy canes, or as the box describes them, “Clamdy Canes.”
Of course I had to buy a box of each new flavor, and I also picked up a box of pickle-flavored candy canes, and one of rotisserie-chicken flavored candy canes, too. I left behind the bacon canes, coffee-flavored canes, and coal- and Krampus-flavored canes. (Krampus is a creepy Christmas goat-demon, and both his and the coal candy canes are cinnamon flavored.)
Here are my reviews:
Macaroni and cheese candy canes
The SMELL. When you unwrap these, they smell like … feet. Unwashed feet that have walked through a locker room coated with Dorito dust. They taste like you dropped a cheesy tortilla chip in a bowl of sugar, then just shrugged, “Five-second rule!” and ate it anyway. The lingering fake-cheese aftertaste made me want to beeline straight for the dentist and beg them to professionally clean my teeth. Archie McPhee could relabel these as anything from Doritos to American cheese singles to limburger cheese and the flavor would still fit.
Appearance: 5 out of 5, the pretty yellow-and-white swirl makes them a super-fun gift for a mac-and-cheese lover
Taste: 1 out of 5. Like mac and cheese you left in your lunchbox thermos all summer.
Clam “clamdy” canes
I was terrified to open these, and for good reason. They smelled innocuous enough, kind of like salty ocean water. And on first lick, they just tasted like sugar. But once you give the clam-infusion time to invade your mouth, you’ll find it impossible to keep clam. It’s FISHY. It’s NASTY. It tastes like something that shouldn’t be in your mouth. I almost spat this one across the room.
Appearance: 3 out of 5, only because the gray-and-white stripes are kinda bland, but then, so are clams.
Taste: Can we give a negative score? I’ve never eaten cat food, but these taste like how Fancy Feast smells. On the other hand, I would totally prank someone by slipping a box of these in their stocking. And then they would never speak to me again, because their memories of Christmas would be forever ruined.
Pickle candy canes
These weren’t new, but I couldn’t resist trying them. I love pickles, so it’s no surprise that these were my favorite of the four, which isn’t saying much considering the competition. The dill flavor is mild, not mouth-puckeringly sour, and dare I say … refreshing? They’re kind of a big dill.
Appearance: 5 out of 5. The shiny bright green and white color scheme is even kind of Christmassy.
Taste: 3 out of 5. Remember those round scratch-n-sniff stickers from the 1980s? These taste like you licked a sheet of the pickle-scented ones.
Rotisserie-chicken candy canes
The staff at Archie McPhee informed me that these taste more like chicken skin than the meat, and that was a good description. They have kind of a smokey, roasted taste, but after one second in your mouth, you realize there’s a reason we do not have chicken-flavored candy. The taste is a little how you might smell if you worked a double shift at KFC every day and didn’t ever shower.
Appearance: 1 out of 5. They’re yellow and brown, which is probably the most chickeny color scheme, but is not attractive.
Taste: 0 out of 5. However, when I set all the candy canes down to write this story, my cats immediately sought out the rotisserie-chicken ones. They thought they were purr-fect.
Not everyone is going to want to sample clam or mac-and-cheese candy canes. But you still can learn about the classic treat. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about candy canes.