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25 Unusual Flavors of Familiar Candies

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Chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and saké? Fortunately, in the ever-evolving candy world, you don’t have to choose. For every tried and true flavor of one of your favorite candies, there’s probably a more adventurous version lurking out there somewhere in the world. Here are 25 of our favorites.

1. CANDY CORN DIPPED MARSHMALLOW PEEPS

Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Candy corn may be one of the world’s most divisive candies. Each year, as Halloween rolls around, candy lovers often find themselves having to pick a side on the Great Candy Corn Debate: delicious or disgusting? Regardless of your stance on the matter, that doesn’t stop candy makers from trotting out candy corn-flavored versions of their most popular treats. This includes the sugar-loving folks at Peeps, who infuse their already-sweet marshmallow chicks with candy corn flavor, then dip them in white chocolate to up the ante.

2. SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CANDY CORN 

theimpulsivebuy, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Not to be outdone, the candy corn folks have had their own bit of fun playing with both the colors and flavors of the traditionally yellow, orange, and white-tipped treat. One seasonal flavor that seems to be a hit (no matter which side of that aforementioned debate you land on): Sea Salt Chocolate Candy Corn—which, when you think about it, just makes a lot more sense.

3. REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA CREME CUPS

Vincent Diamante, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

As one of the world’s most popular candies, Hershey seemed to have stumbled onto flavor-pairing gold when it put chocolate and peanut butter together into one delicious cup. But that doesn’t mean the brand hasn’t messed around with perfection from time to time. In 2007, they paid tribute to Elvis Presley by releasing a limited-edition Peanut Butter and Banana Creme variety, timed to the 30th anniversary of The King’s death.

4. HONEY ROASTED PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

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In April 2017, The Hershey Company announced that some of their most beloved candy bars would receive new, limited-edition flavors modeled after a few of the culinary specialties of different corners of the country. For Georgia, they gave the Peanut Butter Cup a honey-roasted makeover that offered hints of floral, amber, and molasses. (It’s not too late to find some floating around for sale on the internet, including eBay.)

5. BBQ PAYDAY

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As part of that same Hershey promotion, the company debuted a Payday bar that was full of BBQ-seasoned peanuts, in honor of the Lone Star State.

6. GHOST DOTS

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Yet another discontinued treat that is clamoring for a comeback: Ghost Dots, which were really just a regular old box of Dots candy, but with every flavor the same translucent, greenish color, which made it hard to distinguish which flavor you were actually chewing.

7. CHLOROPHYLL PEZ

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PEZ may be celebrating its 90th birthday this year, but this classic candy company isn't living in the past. They are (and always have been) on the cutting edge of new flavors, introducing dozens of new treats over the years. But even if you’re a rabid collector of their candies and dispensers, you might not know that in the 1960s they introduced a chlorophyll version of the dispensable candy, for anyone craving a plant-flavored experience.

8. PRETZEL M&MS

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Milk chocolate M&MS are so 30 years ago. Beginning in the 1980s, M&Ms began experimenting with different flavors and textures for its treats, some of which—including Dulce de Leche—were quickly discontinued. But in 2010, they introduced a serious product for sweet-and-salty palates: Pretzel M&Ms, a round little pretzel ball covered in that iconic candy coating.

9. GREEN TEA HERSHEY KISSES

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Anyone who has ever spent time in Asia probably noticed some truly unique flavors of your favorite chocolate candies—including Green Tea Hershey Kisses. According to Hershey’s Chocolate World, a 13,000 square-foot haven of sweetness on the Las Vegas Strip, “In this Kiss, milk chocolate surrounds a rich green tea–flavored center for an uncommon and mild Hershey’s experience.”

10. NEW YORK CHEESECAKE KISSES

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You don’t have to hop on a plane to enjoy a one-of-a-kind Kiss. As a tribute to the Big Apple, The Hershey Company once concocted this milk chocolate treat with just a hint of rich cheesecake in the center.

11. BUTTERED POPCORN MIKE AND IKES

theimpulsivebuy, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Much like Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly beans, Buttered Popcorn Mike and Ikes are pretty much a love ’em or hate ’em proposition. For those who are intrigued by the idea of a chewy piece of buttery candy, we’ve got good news: After more than a decade of extinction, the brand resurrected the buttery candy in 2016.

12. CHERRY COLA MIKE AND IKES

theimpulsivebuy, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Joining their old-timey friends, Cherry Cola Mike and Ikes also made their way back to store shelves last year, after first being introduced as a limited-time flavor in 2003.

13. THANKSGIVING GUMBALLS

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The holiday season is just around the corner, which means delicious turkey dinners, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie for all. But if you’re trying to watch your caloric intake, it might be worth seeing if you can find a tin of Thanksgiving Gumballs—and yes, they’re exactly what they sound like. Dubbing itself “a three-course meal in every tin,” the gumballs came in three flavors: turkey, cranberry, and pumpkin pie.

14. CHOCOLATE SKITTLES

Joel Kramer, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Skittles haven't gone too far outside of the box—or the bag, as it were—since making their fruity debut in 1974. The brand has dabbled in subtle variations here and there; in 1989 alone, Tropical, Wild Berry, and Tart-N-Tangy Skittles all hit the market. But the company strayed too far from its consumer base in 2007, when it unleashed Chocolate Skittles on the world. The feedback was not pretty.

15. KEY LIME PIE TWIZZLERS

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If you think the world of licorice amounts to just two choices—black or red—think again. Earlier this year, Hershey debuted a whole new twist on its beloved Twizzlers with a Key Lime Pie flavored variety, as well as an Orange Cream Pop.

16. FRESH COLA MENTOS

Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Besides being known for their cheesy 1990s commercials, Mentos candies are equally famous for what happens when you drop a few into a bottle of Diet Coke. (Spoiler alert: It explodes, as MythBusters once confirmed.) Now you can replicate that experiment in your belly—without the geyser, hopefully—with these Fresh Cola Mentos.

17. SWEDISH FISH JELLY BEANS

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It’s not so much the flavor that’s unusual with these sweet candies—it’s the delivery method. Everyone knows that Swedish Fish are those addictive fish-shaped gummy candies. To experience that same flavor, but in a slightly crunchier jelly bean form, just feels, well, un-Swedish Fish-like.

18. JAVA TWIX

Craige Moore, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

First introduced in 2007, Java Twix was released as a limited-edition candy—and it didn’t stick around for long. Though why, we can’t figure out. With its delicious mix of coffee and caramel, topped on a chocolate wafer, then covered in milk chocolate, the candy bar quickly gained a huge following. Its disappearance from shelves left a void in the sweet tooth of many angry candy and caffeine addicts—including, fittingly, the Candy Addict blog.

19. SAKÉ KIT KATS

Tjeerd Wiersma, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it comes to variety, Kit Kat is the candy to beat. Its popularity around the world means that it comes in dozens of flavors, not all of them readily available to American shoppers. In Asia, in particular, Kit Kats have been known to take on all sorts of amazing flavors—including saké. Introduced in 2016, Saké Kit Kats are white chocolate candy bars layered with saké powder.

20. BAKED SWEET POTATO KIT KATS

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The packaging for these recommends that you bake them for the real effect.

21. SWEET PURPLE POTATO KIT KATS

Nope, we’re not done with Kit Kats yet! These sweet, bright lavender snacks, which are available in Japan, are filled with purple sweet potato flavor and might just be too pretty to eat.

22. WASABI KIT KATS

Fabricio Zuardi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Ok, one more Kit Kat—and yes, that says “wasabi.” According to reviews of the light green candy, they’re not actually spicy, but they do manage to retain some subtle notes of wasabi (which is probably for the best).

23. PICKLE CANDY CANES

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If you're sick of all those peppermint candy canes, you might be tempted to try one that tastes like a pickle. Maybe?

24. BACON CANDY CANES

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Not into peppermint or pickles? Then maybe a bacon candy cane is the way to celebrate this holiday season. Believe it or not, Amazon has a whole slew of questionable candy cane flavors to choose from: wasabi, gravy, and coffee are a few others.

25. CANDY STRING CHEESE

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Yes, we said this list was about strange flavors of your favorite candies. But what if one of your favorite foods was infused with candy flavor for no good reason? That’s just what a Wisconsin-based company called Cow Candy did earlier this year, when it created a line of fruit-flavored Monterey Jack cheese sticks, designed to be a sweet alternative to sugary treats.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

A display of tools.
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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

A stack of bed linens.
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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

Rows of rings.
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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

Searching for flights online.
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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

Gift basket against a blue background.
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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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Food
The Origins of 5 International Food Staples

Food is more than fuel. Cuisine and culture are so thoroughly intertwined that many people automatically equate tomatoes with Italy and potatoes with Ireland. Yet a thousand years ago those dietary staples were unheard of in Europe. How did they get to be so ubiquitous there—and beyond?

1. TOMATOES

For years, the wonderful fruit that’s now synonymous with Italy was mostly ignored there. Native to South America and likely cultivated in Central America, tomatoes were introduced to Italy by Spanish explorers during the 1500s. Shortly thereafter, widespread misconceptions about the newcomers took root. In part due to their watery complexion, it was inaccurately thought that eating tomatoes could cause severe digestive problems. Before the 18th century, the plants were mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes. Tomato-based sauce recipes wouldn’t start appearing in present-day Italy until 1692 (although even those recipes were more like a salsa or relish than a sauce). Over the next 150 years, tomato products slowly spread throughout the peninsula, thanks in no small part to the agreeable Mediterranean climate. By 1773, some cooks had taken to stuffing tomatoes with rice or veal. In Naples, the fruits were sometimes chopped up and placed onto flatbread—the beginnings of modern pizza. But what turned the humble tomato into a national icon was the canning industry. Within Italy’s borders, this business took off in a big way during the mid-to-late 19th century. Because tomatoes do well stored inside metal containers, canning companies dramatically drove up the demand. The popularity of canned tomatoes was later solidified by immigrants who came to the United States from Italy during the early 20th century: Longing for Mediterranean ingredients, transplanted families created a huge market for Italian-grown tomatoes in the US.

2. CURRY

Bowl of chicken curry with a spoon in it

An international favorite, curry is beloved in both India and the British Isles, not to mention the United States. And it turns out humans may have been enjoying the stuff for a very, very long time. The word “curry” was coined by European colonists and is something of an umbrella term. In Tamil, a language primarily found in India and Sri Lanka, “kari” means “sauce.” When Europeans started traveling to India, the term was eventually modified into “curry,” which came to designate any number of spicy foods with South or Southeast Asian origins. Nonetheless, a great number of curry dishes share two popular components: turmeric and ginger. In 2012, traces of both were discovered inside residue caked onto pots and human teeth at a 4500-year-old archaeological site in northern India. And where there’s curry, there’s usually garlic: A carbonized clove of this plant was also spotted nearby. “We don’t know they were putting all of them together in a dish, but we know that they were eating them at least individually,” Steve Weber, one of the archaeologists who helped make this astonishing find, told The Columbian. He and his colleagues have tentatively described their discovery as "proto-curry."

3. THE BAGUETTE

Several baguettes

A quintessential Gallic food, baguettes are adored throughout France, where residents gobble up an estimated 10 billion every year. The name of the iconic bread ultimately comes from the Latin word for stick, baculum, and references its long, slender form. How the baguette got that signature shape is a mystery. One popular yarn credits Napoleon Bonaparte: Supposedly, the military leader asked French bakers to devise a new type of skinny bread loaf that could be comfortably tucked into his soldiers’ pockets. Another origin story involves the Paris metro, built in the 19th century by a team of around 3500 workers who were apparently sometimes prone to violence during meal times. It’s been theorized that the metro foremen tried to de-escalate the situation by introducing bread that could be broken into pieces by hand—thereby eliminating the need for laborers to carry knives. Alas, neither story is supported by much in the way of historical evidence. Still, it’s clear that lengthy bread is nothing new in France: Six-foot loaves were a common sight in the mid-1800s. The baguette as we know it today, however, didn’t spring into existence until the early 20th century. The modern loaf is noted for its crispy golden crust and white, puffy center—both traits made possible by the advent of steam-based ovens, which first arrived on France’s culinary scene in the 1920s.

4. POTATOES

Bowl of red, white, and black potatoes on wooden table

Historical records show that potatoes reached Ireland by the year 1600. Nobody knows who first introduced them; the list of potential candidates includes everyone from Sir Walter Raleigh to the Spanish Armada. Regardless, Ireland turned out to be a perfect habitat for the tubers, which hail from the misty slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Half a world away, Ireland’s rich soils and rainy climate provided similar conditions—and potatoes thrived there. They also became indispensable. For millennia, the Irish diet had mainly consisted of dairy products, pig meats, and grains, none of which were easy for poor farmers to raise. Potatoes, on the other hand, were inexpensive, easy to grow, required fairly little space, and yielded an abundance of filling carbs. Soon enough, the average Irish peasant was subsisting almost entirely on potatoes, and the magical plant is credited with almost single-handedly triggering an Irish population boom. In 1590, only around 1 million people lived on the island; by 1840, that number had skyrocketed to 8.2 million. Unfortunately, this near-total reliance on potatoes would have dire consequences for the Irish people. In 1845, a disease caused by fungus-like organisms killed off somewhere between one-third and one-half of the country’s potatoes. Roughly a million people died as a result, and almost twice as many left Ireland in a desperate mass exodus. Yet potatoes remained a cornerstone of the Irish diet after the famine ended; in 1899, one magazine reported that citizens were eating an average of four pounds’ worth of them every day. Expatriates also brought their love of potatoes with them to other countries, including the U.S. But by then, the Yanks had already developed a taste for the crop: The oldest record of a permanent potato patch on American soil dates back to 1719. That year, a group of farmers—most likely Scots-Irish immigrants—planted one in the vicinity of modern-day Derry, New Hampshire. From these humble origins, the potato steadily rose in popularity, and by 1796, American cookbooks were praising its “universal use, profit, and easy acquirement.”

5. CORN

Corn growing in a field

In the 1930s, geneticist George W. Beadle exposed a vital clue about how corn—also known as maize—came into existence. A future Nobel Prize winner, Beadle demonstrated that the chromosomes found in everyday corn bear a striking resemblance to those of a Mexican grass called teosinte. At first glance, teosinte may not look very corn-like. Although it does have kernels, these are few in number and encased in tough shells that can easily chip a human tooth. Nonetheless, years of work allowed Beadle to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that corn was descended from teosinte. Today, genetic and archaeological data suggests that humans began the slow process of converting this grass into corn around 8700 years ago in southwestern Mexico. If you're wondering why early farmers showed any interest in cultivating teosinte to begin with, while the plant is fairly unappetizing in its natural state, it does have a few key attributes. One of these is the ability to produce popcorn: If held over an open fire, the kernels will “pop” just as our favorite movie theater treat does today. It might have been this very quality that inspired ancient horticulturalists to tinker around with teosinte—and eventually turn it into corn

BONUS: TEA

Person sitting cross-legged holding a cup of green tea

The United Kingdom’s ongoing love affair with this hot drink began somewhat recently. Tea—which is probably of Chinese origin—didn’t appear in Britain until the 1600s. Initially, the beverage was seen as an exotic curiosity with possible health benefits. Shipping costs and tariffs put a hefty price tag on tea, rendering it quite inaccessible to the lower classes. Even within England’s most affluent circles, tea didn’t really catch on until King Charles II married Princess Catherine of Braganza. By the time they tied the knot in 1662, tea-drinking was an established pastime among the elite in her native Portugal. Once Catherine was crowned Queen, tea became all the rage in her husband’s royal court. From there, its popularity slowly grew over several centuries and eventually transcended socioeconomic class. At present, the average Brit drinks an estimated three and a half cups of tea every day.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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