It is a bright December morning, and I am trying pickle-flavored candy canes.
I eye the ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, water, citric acid, artificial dill flavor, FD&C Yellow, FD&C Blue 1.
All very upstanding.
All very appropriate for a classic holiday treat.
Well, except the dill.
• • •
Up until a few years ago, the pickle existed only as a plate component to be ignored, shrinking in the shadows of a sexier burger, briny juice threatening to sog a toasty bun.
No longer. The divisive cruncher is having a moment. Pickle plates are served as appetizers. Everything is now "pickled," not just cucumbers.
And the flavor has infiltrated other products: potato chips. Ice pops. Sunflower seeds. CANDY CANES.
• • •
The curved cane is white and bright green and classically striped, looking like it could taste like spearmint, or sour apple.
I unwrap the curved side, unleash that familiar candy cane crinkle. I expect a whiff of something pungent, but nothing.
• • •
A colleague walked the candy canes over on a recent afternoon. She had bought them on Amazon. They are still there, along with a bulleted list of ways to sell people on these curious confections. You know, in case "pickle-flavored candy canes" isn't alluring enough:
TASTE TO TICKLE YOUR PICKLE: Christmas can be a tough time for someone who isn't that into sweets. If you're the savory sort, you might prefer the dill tang of our Pickle Candy Canes. Not only do they have an elegant green color that will go well with your regular candy canes, they also present a clear flavor alternative.
ADD SOME FLAVOR TO YOUR HOLIDAY: Peppermint is so last year. And the year before that, and before that… Trade in boring traditions for flavors that you love. Your breath might not smell fresh anymore, but at least your taste buds will be satisfied.
Made by the company Accoutrements, it's $13.99 for six of the "Fancy Pickle flavored Candy Canes."
• • •
This is the part where I try to convince you that a pickle-flavored candy cane is not totally disgusting.
For the first second, it just tastes like a candy cane. There's that glossy sheen, that slightly waxy texture. But instead of mint flavor, it's dill, and it's unmistakable.
But it's not puckery, or vinegary, or otherwise pickle-y in any way. It tastes exactly like a candy cane flavored with dill should taste, and for at least 10 seconds I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Five licks in, the flavor becomes ... sort of ... appealing? It is here I should note that I love a good dill-y, vinegary, crispy pickle in almost any form. But like, if you're looking for a candy that is not minty or sweet but instead slightly savory in a decidedly herbal way and also embodies the spirit of the holidays, you will probably not hate these candy canes.
Ten minutes later, a strange aftertaste lingers. I wash it down with a homemade Christmas cookie.