Just when I think I’ve hit the limit on weird items someone, somewhere has chosen to flavor like pickles, I find something new that blows my mind all over again. Case in point: Pickle-flavored candy canes are a thing. Yes, really. Candy canes. Flavored like pickles. Usually I am a big proponent of using candy canes as stirring sticks for hot chocolate — but I think I will be avoiding doing that with these candy canes. Pickles may be great, but I absolutely do not want my hot chocolate to taste like a pickle-y mess.
Now, a martini, on the other hand... well, let's just say that I would be more than willing to try using a pickle candy cane as a swizzle stick for something like that.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the candy canes are made by Archie McPhee, that most venerable purveyor of all things strange, unusual, and often outright hilarious. Dating back to the early 1980s, the Seattle-based retailer has sold everything from rubber chickens to the meme-famous creepy horse head for more than 30 years — including an array of pickle-themed objects. Why pickles? I honestly couldn’t tell you — but given the sudden popularity of all things pickle, clearly Archie McPhee has been onto something all this time.
Sold in packs of six in boxes adorned with a sentient pickle wearing a Santa hat (or maybe an elf hat — you be the judge) Archie McPhee’s Pickle Candy Canes are specifically dill pickle-flavored; notes the item’ Amazon page, “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.” They’re still festive in appearance — indeed, the Amazon page for the sweets suggests the “elegant green color… will go well with your regular candy canes” — but offer a slightly different flavor alternative for those who don’t dig peppermint. And it turns out that they’re a big hit, too: In fact, they’re so popular that the Archie McPhee website limits orders to five units per customer.
I know, I know — it is mindboggling that pickle-flavored candy canes would have that much of a cult following.
Weirdest of all, however, is this: The idea of a pickle-themed holiday treat isn’t actually that bizarre — because pickles factor prominently in one very specific, although probably manufactured, holiday tradition. Legend has it that the tradition of the “Christmas pickle,” or Weihnachtsgurke, hails from Germany. According to this custom, a glass ornament shaped like a pickle is hung deep within the branches of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve; then, whoever finds the pickle the next morning is rewarded with an extra gift.
According to Atlas Obscura, this “German” tradition is particularly popular in the Midwestern United States — but most German people haven’t actually heard of it, which suggests it’s not actually a German tradition after all. Indeed, among the many different origin stories that exist for it, the most likely explanation is that it was a particularly well-executed marketing stunt: As Modern Farmer reports, five-and-dime store precursor Woolworth began importing glass Christmas ornaments from Germany during the 1880s, many of which were shaped like fruits and vegetables. The “tradition” of the Christmas pickle may therefore have been invented solely to encourage sales of the ornaments — particularly the pickle-shaped one.
See? We’ve already been hanging glass pickles on our trees for over a century — so the idea of hanging pickle-flavored candy canes on your tree isn’t all that strange after all.
What’s more, I’d even argue that making candy canes pickle-flavored actually makes them more… uh… let's call it "holiday-neutral." Pickle seems to be the Official Flavor of Summer 2018, so why not use these suckers to celebrate something other than a winter holiday? Memorial Day and the 4th of July may already have passed, but Labor Day is still on the horizon; maybe your next barbecue needs a jar of these things on hand.
Or maybe it doesn’t. Embrace pickle candy canes if they sound like they’re your jam; eschew them if not. You do you.
But if you want them, you can get them from Archie McPhee’s website for under $5 a pop.