Except for starting with the third letter of the alphabet, there is no reason whatsoever for clams and candy canes to go together. But don’t tell that to the folks at Archie McPhee, a Seattle-based company that specializes in all things weird, including candy canes. They have unleashed a diabolical digestive debacle known as the Clamdy Cane (yes, it’s clam-flavored candy).
The company also birthed a sibling, a slightly less heinous mac & cheese-flavored variety, which joined a candy cane family that already included bacon, pickle, rotisserie chicken, coal (apparently smoke and cinnamon-flavored) and Krampus (also cinnamon).
For this review of the two new flavors, I tackled the challenge with equal parts excitement and fear. I consider myself to be open-minded about a great many things, including trying unique foods. Even so, it was hard not to be a little concerned that these would be biblically bad.
With that said, let’s establish that this review is not really about if these, particularly the clammy concoction, taste “good.” You don’t buy barf-flavored jelly beans or turkey and gravy soda because you think it will be delicious (trust me, it’s not), you buy it so you can say you did and that you tried it. So I did, and I did.
The McPhee website says Clamdy Canes are “gray and white.” However, I found that woefully insufficient and humbly suggest a more accurate white and “dirty paint water.” I know, that probably won’t fit on a crayon, but I couldn’t help thinking the color looked like that nasty slurry after you’ve rinsed a paint brush a dozen times.
I’m happy to report that the Clamdy Canes do taste better than dirty paint water (don’t ask how I know), but it’s not exactly a convincing victory. Surprisingly, there was not much of a smell to these, at least at first. If you really try, you can get a whiff of something if you almost put it up your nose. I couldn’t place the smell, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant. Oddly, after a few licks, the scent comes out, and it’s still not pleasant. I wouldn’t say it smells like clams; it reminded me of warm, flat beer.
As for the taste, it wasn’t bad, and it was certainly better than I thought it would be. There was a hint of a fishy-like taste, but it wasn’t overwhelming or off-putting. It had a subtler sweetness compared to a traditional candy cane, and after you get past the initial thought of “ewww, I’m eating a clam-flavored candy cane,” it was palatable.
But I was a little disappointed that it didn’t taste a bit clammier and grosser. Instead, it was almost like one of those mucous-colored hard candies you see sitting in a bowl on a reception desk that you grab because you can’t pass up free candy. You pop one in your mouth but have no idea what flavor it is and would struggle to describe it to someone.
Did I finish the whole Clamdy Cane? No, but if I didn’t have the mac & cheese flavor to look forward to I could have.
Mac & Cheese Candy Canes
The mac & cheese variety had the same sneaky lack of smell at first until after my tongue caressed it. For this one, the smell is spot-on, at least for the fluorescent orange powered mac & cheese in a box, not your grandma’s homemade stuff.
But for as much as it nailed the smell, the taste was a letdown. If not for the aroma and the packaging, I’m not sure I’d even be able to place it as mac & cheese. Like the clam one, the flavor wasn’t bad. It had a nice, mild sweetness to it, but no real discernible taste and not one that reminds you of creamy, cheesy dish. The best description I can do is if you licked a regular candy cane and swirled it around Fun Dip-style in a bag of Cheetos.
Overall, it’s tricky to score these. On taste alone, they are not bad, but neither one hits the mark as far as what was advertised on the box, though it could be argued that’s a good thing, particularly for the Clamdy Canes. And I do give Archie McPhee points for coming up with a couple of new flavors that stand out in a crowded field of crazy candy concoctions. So as a tasty treat that satisfies your craving for mac & cheese or clams, these are a hard pass. But as a fun holiday gift or prank, even Santa might be tempted to have a box or two on hand.
(Nutrition Facts – Not listed on package.)
Purchased Price: $5.95 each (plus $4.95 total shipping)
Size: 3.8 oz. box for a 6 pack
Purchased at: mcphee.com
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Clamdy)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Mac & Cheese)
Pros: Not nearly as disgusting as you might expect. Would work well for those stupid gift exchanges at work or among family.
Cons: Bad wordplay on the McPhee website for the Clamdy Canes, including “your family will clamor for them” and “one shell of a candy.” The dancing clam with a Santa hat is a bit disturbing.