The craze of new and experimental flavors in classic snacks is in full swing. As consumer tastes evolve and social media helps drum up excitement, we’re seeing more new flavors hit the shelves than ever before. Oreo has long experimented with the amount of filling in their cookies, the thickness of their wafers, and even the flavor of the wafers, but it’s mostly the wacky themed fillings that cause a stir. Standby favorites like lemon and mint are available, but so are flavors that mimic desserts like carrot cake and key lime pie. They sometimes take inspiration from candy flavors, like Swedish Fish and candy corn. And they’ve even embraced fruity flavors like watermelon and fruit punch. Many varieties are sold exclusively at certain stores for limited periods of time, which only further stokes consumer hype. While some are only available for limited periods of time, seasonal flavors that are deemed successful can be brought back by popular demand, as we see with the Firework Oreos.
Peeps marshmallow candies were once limited to a single flavor in a handful of vibrant colors, and were limited to sale during the Easter holiday season. These days, they’re available for more holidays and in a plethora of flavors. Some are filled with caramel or cream, others are covered in chocolate. Fruit punch, pumpkin spice latte and orange sherbert are but a few flavors available in this classic marshmallow confection. In the same vein as Oreos, some flavors are limited to certain retailers – so if you have your eye on a specific flavor, you may have to hunt it down.
Lays debuted a contest in 2014 in which consumers were prompted to choose a favorite new flavor, launching a world of potato chips from beyond our weirdest and wildest dreams. Some were based off of entrees like Chicken and Waffles or an Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese. Others ventured where few potato chips have dared – to the sweet side, with flavors like Cinnamon Bun. Some entirely missed the mark with consumers (see: Cappuccino), but the engagement and interest proved to be worth the failed experiments. Recently, the company released flavors that are “inspired by different music genres”. Wavy Electric Lime & Sea Salt is supposed to be reminiscent of pop music, while Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle represents hip hop and Kettle Cooked Classic Beer Cheese channels classic rock.
It’s necessary for long standing brands to experiment in order to stay at the front of the consumer mindset, and flavor is one of the most engaging ways to do it. Worst case scenario, an ongoing dialogue sparks around how a crazy flavor didn’t turn out great. At best, it’s an opportunity for the consumer to fall in love with something entirely new. And, there will always be the originals left for the purists.