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The Most Unnecessary Flavors From Classic Food Brands

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Isolated Smore
ImagePixel/istockphoto

Who Asked for This?

In today's more-is-more world, food basics no longer seem to cut it. From outrageous concoctions like turkey-flavored candy corn to earnest but questionable attempts at flavor innovation (chocolate hummus, anyone?), familiar brands of foods are pushing the envelope enough to tear it. One of the latest examples is a head-scratching limited-time flavor lineup from Pepsi that draws inspiration from a fireside favorite dessert.


Rachel Schneider and Mary Shustack contributed to this story. 


Related: The Craziest Marketing Stunts of All Time

Pepsi S'mores Collections
PepsiCo Beverages North America

The Pepsi S'mores Collection

If you're craving one last, refreshing taste of summer as we dive head-first into fall, Pepsi is here to oblige with its latest off-the-wall endeavor: a lineup of s'more-inspired colas. The limited-edition collection includes three flavors offered in mini cans: Toasty Marshmallow, Graham Cracker, and Chocolate. Pepsi lovers can enjoy the cans individually or pour all three into a glass with ice to create a spot on s'more-cola concoction. But if you want in, you better hurry. Pepsi is only giving away the collection to 2,000 lucky winners. To enter, create a post on Instagram or Twitter detailing how you enjoy s'mores at home using the hashtags #PepsiSmores and #Sweepstakes.


Related: The Most Delicious 'Dirty Sodas' You Can Make at Home 

Brach's 'Tailgate' Candy Corn Mix
Walgreens

Brach's 'Tailgate' Candy Corn Mix

Candy corn is one of those love-it-or-hate-it delicacies that typically makes an appearance around Halloween, though Brach's has made a couple of other forays into different holiday markets with it — like its red and green "reindeer corn" at Christmastime. Nudging into the summer market, Brach's released a 'Tailgate' mix that included five flavors — and two of them were especially out there. In the bag were different colored candy corn pieces with fruit punch, vanilla ice cream, pop corn, hotdog, and hamburger flavors. 

Related: The Forgotten History Behind Your Favorite Candies

Velveeta Martini Kit
Goldbelly

Velveeta Martini

The "veltini" was a martini made with vodka infused with none other than Velveeta cheese, in all of its jiggly, processed glory. Of course, with a melted martini this outside-the-box, it couldn't include a simple garnish. Instead, the drink was garnished with a cheese drip along with Velveeta-stuffed olives and Jumbo Velveeta Shells & Cheese on a cocktail pick. Diehard Velveeta fanatics were only able to indulge their cheese-loving tastebuds for a limited time at BLT Steak restaurants, and we're not convinced the demand was substantial enough to warrant a resurgence, but only time will tell for sure.


Related: Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Macaroni and Cheese

French's Ketchup Popsicle
French’s

French's Ketchup Popsicle

If you remember the scene from "Tommy Boy" where Richard (David Spade) explains how good of a salesman Tom Callahan was by saying that he could "sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves," French's is here to hit you right in the nostalgic part of your brain. Dubbed The Frenchsicle, the Canadian ketchup brand's frozen delicacy was created in collaboration with the brand Happy Pops and made a couple of short-lived pop-up appearances.

https://blog.cheapism.com/best-ketchup-brands/

Grey Poupon French Ice Cream
Walmart

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream

Van Leeuwen's latest eyebrow-raising ice cream flavor might have been more at home on top of your summer cookout hot dogs than on a spoon: mustard. Grey Poupon with salted pretzels was made with sweet ice cream, a swirl of tangy honey Dijon, and chunks of salted pretzels. The flavor was part of the Van Leeuwen summer flavor lineup, which replaced pizza and macaroni and cheese flavors from spring. If mustard isn't your ideal frozen treat, you may also spot s'more, peach crisp, cornbread and strawberry jam, and espresso chip at your local Walmart. 

Molson Coors Golden Wing Barley Milk
Golden Wing Official

Molson Coors Golden Wing Barley Milk

Coors is going beyond beer with a new beverage — and this time, it doesn't contain any alcohol at all. Golden Wing is a plant-based milk made from barley, the same stuff that the company's beer is made of, plus sunflower oil, pink Himalayan salt, and, surprisingly, shiitake mushroom extract. The barley gives it a malty sweetness, kind of like the milk leftover in your bowl of bran flakes. Shiitake mushroom extract boosts the vitamin content, but also makes it sound savory, which wouldn't be so bad — if the drink didn't look like Nesquik, that is. 

Maple Syrup Pepsi
PepsiCo Beverages North America

Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola

Right after the release of creamy Nitro Pepsi, the soda company was at it again with Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola, born out of a partnership with IHOP to satisfy pancake lovers, as if there was a massive call for a maple cola. The limited-edition flavor was exactly what it sounded like: maple-syrup flavoring mixed with Pepsi. But was it sickly sweet? Or was it actually amazing, like some maple root beers? And you may never know, because only 2,000 contestants who won a social media contest got to taste it.

Oreo Wine
Oreo/Barefoot Wine

Oreo Wine

If you've ever tasted a glass of red and thought, "This would be better with a fistful of Oreo cookies," this might have been the drink for you (or maybe you need to take a basic wine-tasting class). Last year, Barefoot Wines released what it called a "scrumptious medley of blackberry and dark cherry aromas as they transition into the delicate layers of chocolate (and) cookies & creme." Our only question: Should we dunk our wine glass in milk?

Hidden Valley Ranch RanchNog
Hidden Valley Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch RanchNog

In an affront to humanity and everything that Midwesterners hold dear, Hidden Valley Ranch released a holiday cocktail kit that included everything one would need to make RanchNog. Why the company decided to combine ranch and eggnog we may never know (cough, marketing stunt, cough).

Arby's Vodka
Arby's

Arby's Curly Fry Vodka

Arby's doubled down on its newish crinkle-cut fries by releasing a vodka that tasted just like them, seasoned with kosher salt and sugar. That sounds weird enough, but the roast-beef kings also released a curly fry version, which was distilled with cayenne, paprika, onion, and garlic, mimicking the chain's iconic side dish.

Grey Poupon Wine La Moutarde Vin
Kraft

Grey Poupon Wine

Pairing wine with mustard seems like a sensible endeavor. But putting mustard in your wine? Hmmmmm. That's what iconic mustard brand Grey Poupon decided to do with La Moutarde Vin, a white wine infused with the same mustard seeds that go into Grey Poupon. The $30 wine — which came with a jar of mustard, of course — had hints of spice and citrus, plus floral characteristics and a bright acidity, according to the company. 

Brach's Turkey Dinner candy corn
eBay

Turkey Dinner Candy Corn

As horrifying as it sounds, Turkey Dinner Candy Corn by Brach's made a second appearance in 2021 — and it even added new flavors. In 2020, the candy corn included the already gag-worthy flavor assortment of green beans, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, ginger-glazed carrots, and sweet potato pie. Brach's ultimately dumped sweet potato pie and carrots, opting for apple pie and coffee. We're not really sure this was an upgrade, given that candy corn is polarizing even in its traditional form. 

Mister E Pop-Tart
Kellogg NA Co.

Mister E Pop-Tart

Remember strawberry frosted Pop-Tarts? They seemed so decadent when you were a kid. Now, kids of all ages can turn to this brand for Cinnamon Roll, Frosted Strawberry Milkshake, Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel, and even Froot Loops flavors. Still, 2021 brought the ultimate head-scratcher: Mister E. That’s Pop-Tart’s cute way of stylizing a gimmicky mystery flavor. The flavor was something akin to a sweetened everything bagel. “They taste like somebody dropped the garlic into the birthday cake frosting,” one of many disappointed reviewers said.

Kraft Candy Mac & Cheese
Kraft

Kraft Candy Macaroni and Cheese

Is nothing sacred in this world? Macaroni and cheese, in all of its kid-whispering glory, should be just one color and one color only: bright yellow. But a randy-feeling Kraft couldn’t resist inflicting a sickeningly pink candy mac and cheese on an unsuspecting public in honor of Valentine’s Day in 2021. Insider’s verdict: “Similar to watered-down maple syrup.” No. Just no.

Frank’s RedHot Goldfish
Amazon

Frank’s RedHot Goldfish

Who doesn't love Pepperidge Farm’s original baked snack cracker, the staple of many a childhood? Today's kids can also snack on Pretzel, S’mores, Parmesan, or even “flavor blasted” options, such as the unfortunately named Xplosive Pizza. The weirdest of ‘em all, though: An odd 2021 collaboration with Frank’s RedHot that resulted in spicy crackers that were hot enough to make your average preschooler cry.

Peeps Pepsi
PepsiCo

Peeps Pepsi

Sure, Diet Coke has raised eyebrows with its fruity forays: Twisted Mango, Zesty Blood Orange, Ginger Lime, and Feisty Cherry (with only the latter two still in production). But Pepsi truly broke a barrier when it rolled out a limited-edition Peeps Pepsi combining the “crisp, refreshing taste of Pepsi-Cola with the pillowy-soft and sweet Peeps Marshmallow flavor consumers love,” according to an overly enthusiastic news release. Judging by this review, we won’t be clamoring for a repeat appearance next spring.

Sabra Dark Chocolate Hummus
Amazon

Sabra Dark Chocolate Hummus

What's wrong with a simple, classic hummus? Well, Sabra seems to think it's boring, so it offers up variants such as spinach and artichoke, salsa verde, jalapeno, and even taco-inspired. Arguably the biggest crime against hummus, though: dark chocolate, which debuted in 2020 and is described as a “dessert dip and spread.” Treated as such, it might be able to get us on board, but don’t look too hard at the label: It’s still made with chickpeas, of course.

Hidden Valley Ranch Blasted Ranch-Dipped Pizza Sauce
Amazon

Hidden Valley Ranch Blasted Ranch-Dipped Pizza Sauce

Hidden Valley long ago joined the flavor craze with ranch variations including avocado, cucumber, bacon, and coleslaw. But it got tongues (and taste buds) wagging with its 2019 introduction of ranch-dipped pizza, which, as Thrillist notes, “is ranch-dipped-pizza-flavored ranch dressing. It's what would happen if M.C. Escher had his own dressing. The ranch goes back into the ranch like an endless staircase that only leads back to itself.” 

Pumpkin Spice Spam
Walmart

Pumpkin Spice Spam

Given that Spam itself is a punchline for many, pumpkin spice Spam was bound to attract attention when it came out in 2019. “Pumpkin Spice Spam is real and we tried it,” teases Food & Wine. The verdict: a not-entirely-heinous innovation in canned meats that “could easily be slathered in maple syrup, as you might with breakfast sausage.”

Whitewater Wave Hawaiian Punch
Walmart

Whitewater Wave Hawaiian Punch

Hawaiian Punch used to mean one thing: Fruit Juicy Red. Punchy, the mascot, would be surprised to learn that the classic is now joined by Lemonade, Berry Bonkers, Green Berry Rush, Polar Blast, and Mango Monsoon, among others. Still, the weirdest of them all has to be Whitewater Wave, which is ostensibly a coconut-pineapple flavor. We say ostensibly because we neither confirm or deny — to do that, we’d have to drink white Hawaiian Punch.

Popfetti Pop Secret
Walmart

Pop Secret Popfetti

This brand of microwave popcorn mostly gives spins on the same theme. It's almost like an old "Saturday Night Live" skit: You can have butter, extra butter, double butter, 94% fat free butter, light butter, homestyle butter, and movie theater butter. But Pop Secret isn’t above an occasional curveball: The dessertlike Popfetti, unveiled in 2017, tasted like yellow cake and buttercream. Junk Banter even declared it the perfect snack for “Netflix and eating alone on the couch.”

Wasabi Doritos
Walmart

Wasabi Doritos

Doritos is known for celebrating its quirkiness beyond the traditional nacho cheese and cool ranch flavors, and its current lineup includes the fiery Flamas and chile-limon Dinamita variations. Still, those pale in comparison with wasabi Doritos, which popped up on shelves in 2017 looking disturbingly … well, green. They may still be available in Japan, and we’re happy to cede this one to our friends across the Pacific.

Bacon Buttermilk Pancake Thomas’ English Muffins
Thomas’

Bacon Buttermilk Pancake Thomas’ English Muffins

Forget plain English muffins when you can have multigrain, blueberry, honey wheat, cinnamon raisin, and even a limited-edition banana bread flavor. Still, that’s just barely offbeat compared with Thomas’ zany limited-run bacon buttermilk pancake English muffins, which hit shelves for just six short weeks in 2017. If you missed them, it might be for the best. “It tastes almost like someone used something sweet to try to cover the faint taste of slightly rotten meat,” proclaims reviewer Junk Food Betty

Swedish Fish Oreos
Nabisco

Swedish Fish Oreos

It’s hard to beat a classic Oreo: sweet, white cream between two chocolate biscuits. When Golden and Double Stuf Oreos came into the picture, those flavors seemed daring, but from there the options went wild, from Hot & Spicy Cinnamon to Birthday Cake to an aborted experiment with buttered popcorn (really). But if you ask us, the No. 1 weirdest Oreo flavor to exist was Swedish fish, which debuted in 2016 and tasted like it was “soaked overnight in Robitussin,” according to Junk Banter

Sriracha Mango Chobani Yogurt
Instacart

Sriracha Mango Chobani Yogurt

Does anyone eat plain yogurt anymore? Chobani doesn’t appear to think so. Its Chobani Flip line features everything from Coffee Brownie Bliss to S’more S’mores to Chewy Churro. But back in 2015, Sriracha mania was in full swing, and it just couldn’t resist its own twist on the trend: mango-flavored yogurt with “sriracha-coated rice crisps, mini sesame sticks, and roasted and salted cashew pieces,” according to Time. Also debuting at that time: chipotle pineapple.

Extra Toasty Cheez-It Crackers
Amazon

Extra Toasty Cheez-It Crackers

Be sure to look more closely at Cheez-It's classic red box before you head to the cash register. You may accidentally pick up pepper jack, hot and spicy, Buffalo wing, or one of several other varieties while searching for the original. The madness doesn't stop there, though. In 2015, Cheez-It decided that deliberately burning its crackers was enough of an excuse for a new “flavor,” and voila: Extra toasty Cheez-Its were born

Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips
Walmart

Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips

By now, Lay’s has debuted so many zany flavors that it’s hard to keep track of them all: Wavy fried green tomato? Biscuits and gravy? Szechuan chicken? Check, check, check. But there’s one that still manages to make our blood run cold: Cappuccino, which was part of the original “do us a flavor” lineup back in 2014. “These are fascinating to eat, but aren't actually appetizing,” opined MassLive. “It's like your mouth is watching ‘Breaking Bad.’ The experience can't exactly be defined as ‘enjoyable,’ but you want to know what happens if you continue investing in it.”

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms
Mars

Pumpkin Spice M&M's

M&M's come in mini and mega sizes, and the ever-expanding flavor range has expanded beyond basics such as Peanut and Almond to Coffee Nut, Caramel, Crispy, and the elusive Mint. We’ll forgive all of those riffs on the original, but there’s one we just can’t abide: pumpkin spice, which launched in 2013 in all of its basic, autumn-loving glory. 

Extra Mint Chocolate Chip Gum
Instacart

Extra Mint Chocolate Chip Gum

We’re not quite sure why this one is so hard to swallow, pun intended. Spearmint and peppermint are old standby flavors of Wrigley’s Extra gum. Of course, there’s also the slightly more exotic watermelon and polar ice flavors. But mint chocolate chip? This “dessert delights” flavor hit shelves in 2010, and though it seems to have earned quite a few fans, GrubGrade learned the hard way that the No. 1 ingredient, sorbitol, can wreak havoc on the digestive system in larger quantities.