Pumpkin pie ice cream, peppermint potato chips,and gravy-flavored sodas—'tis the season for gimmicky packaged foods. Consumers love seasonal products so much that packaged foods companies can't resist pushing special flavors for the holidays. Would you try the foods below, or are you glad they're available for a limited time only?
1. Dreyer's and Breyers and Turkey Hill, oh pie!
Image via Serious Eats
Baby, it's cold outside, and all this seasonal ice cream we're consuming isn't helping. But if you can't get a slice of pie, the ice cream version is usually the next best thing. Ben & Jerry's has been experimenting with offbeat flavors for years, but now even mainstream and discount brands are in on the yum. Dreyer's currently has three limited-edition flavors, from spicy Egg Nog and Pumpkin to cool Peppermint, while its competitor Breyers sells Apple Cinnamon Crumble. Meanwhile, Turkey Hill's Pumpkin Pie is such a hit that it might become a permanent offering.
2. Hershey's Kisses
Image via Amazon
Back in the day, Hershey's broke up the monotony of solid chocolate Kisses with a single almond in the center. Then it introduced Hugs with swirls of white cream and chocolate. Today the brand really makes out with new flavors, especially during the holidays. Pumpkin Spice is the latest. But if pie isn't your thing, there's always Candy Cane Kisses, or newfangled fillings including caramel, mint truffle, and cherry cordial creme. Turns out, a Kiss isn't just a Kiss.
Image via The Hartford Courant
Even the richest holiday desserts aren't enough for some sweet teeth. Enter Frosted Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts stuffed with a lava-like filling of real nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. And don't forget the autumn-colored sprinkles on top! If this doesn't send you into sugar hibernation, we're not sure what will.
Image via Silk
Seasonal flavors aren't just for junky processed foods. Silk, the leading natural foods brand in the U.S., has also jumped on the bandwagon, so you can ditch the dairy and enjoy Seasonal Nog and Chocolate Mint soy milk over the holidays. (Pumpkin Spice was an option in the past, but it may have been discontinued.) If your milk mustache got any more festive, it'd be made of boughs of holly. And that would be weird.
Image via USA Today
In November, everyone's favorite potato-chip-in-a-can got festive. And by "festive" we mean, "This is supposed to taste like what?!" The Pumpkin Pie Spice flavor is available exclusively at Walmart, but you can find Cinnamon Sugar and White Chocolate Peppermint at fine grocery stores everywhere. Word on the street is that once you pop, you'll probably find it easy to stop.
6. Lays and Doritos
Image via Delish
Potato chips seem best suited for savory dishes. Unfortunately, if you want to try turkey and gravy-flavored Lays, you'll have to go to China. Roasted Turkey Doritos sold in Taiwan amp up the holiday spirit even more with Christmas tree-shaped tortilla chips. Meat-flavored crisps—with flavors like Steak and Onion, Smoky Bacon, and Turkey and Stuffing—are also a hit in the UK. Ho-ho-how long before we can buy them in America?
7. Jones Soda
Image via Jones Soda
A holiday flavor doesn't have to taste good to be a hit. Case in point: Jones Soda. In 2003, the Seattle beverage company introduced a Turkey & Gravy flavor for Thanksgiving. Within two hours, they were out of stock. A year later, Jones brought back the meaty drink and added Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry, Mashed Potatoes with Butter, and Fruitcake flavors to make a boxed set. It sold out faster than you can say "indigestion" and crashed the company's website. Later, Pumpkin Pie, Wild Herb Stuffing, Brussels Sprout, and even Antacid were added to the mix. Some strong-stomached people had to try them. (These guys taste-tested them six years after they came out!) But consumers weren't just jonesing for yucky sodas—the biggest selling point was culinary shock value. If an affordable packaged food can't be delicious, make it weird.
Jones still releases fun, sometimes barftastic, seasonal flavors and has branched out to Halloween, Valentine's Day, Easter, and even Hanukkah (latke-flavored soda!). The gross-out schtick isn't everything, though. This year's holiday flavors—Candy Cane, Pear Tree, Sugar Plum, and Ginger Bread—actually sound pretty tasty.
Image via Amazon
For years, Oreo celebrated the holidays by covering its famous sandwich cookies in white fudge. The result was delicious, but not too obviously related to Christmas. It wasn't until 2008 that Nabisco finally realized that candy cane-flavored Stuf and chocolate cookie parts go together like ornaments and a tree ... or gift cards and people who are hard to shop for ... or you know, milk and cookies. But candy conversion doesn't always work out. Exhibit A: Candy Corn Oreos.