You know storm chasers, those people who deliberately seek out horrifying and dangerous phenomena for the thrill of it? That’s exactly the kind of relationship I have with disgusting novelty snacks, so when I heard about Brach’s Tailgate Candy Corn, I got as excited as my dad at an actual tailgate.
I happened to have relatives visiting from overseas while I was reviewing this candy, and because I’m a bad person, I convinced them that these would be a great taste of American culture. After stomaching a single corn, one cousin begged me to include the phrase “offense to the senses” in my review (thanks, mate!), and spoiler alert, things will only get more scathing.
There’s such a wide range of experiences in this bag (specifically, that range goes from “probably won’t make you puke” to, well, the opposite) that I had to give every flavor its own rating. I also had to take some liberties figuring out which flavor was which — Brach’s, perhaps rightfully ashamed of what they’ve wrought, doesn’t indicate this anywhere on the bag.
White top, yellowy bottom: vanilla ice cream. In addition to being the only flavor whose two-toned color scheme really makes sense, this is the least offensive by far. It’s overwhelming sweet with a weird caramel undertone. Maybe that’s supposed to represent the malty taste of a cone, but probably it’s just to justify calling this something other than “pure sugar.” Still, it’s impressively bearable. 5 out of 10.
Reddish top, pale pink bottom: fruit punch. As overly sweet as the vanilla ice cream, this is probably the flavor that tastes the most like how it’s supposed to — and yet this time, the weird undertone is the taste of chemicals. It reminded me of Hawaiian Punch, if Hawaiian Punch was worse. 4 out of 10.
White top, pale yellow bottom: popcorn. Or, to be more accurate, flavor-that-tastes-nothing-like-popcorn. I was (naively) expecting something rich like Jelly Belly’s exemplary Buttered Popcorn bean. Instead, I got something that tastes how nail polish smells. It’s reminiscent of burnt garbage, just slightly saccharine. 3 out of 10.
Pinky-red bottom, yellowy top: is it hamburger? Is it hot dog? Is it fit for human consumption? The best way to describe this is to tell you that when trying my usual “take one bite for a first impression, then a second to understand the taste well enough to write about it” strategy, the prospect of having to choke down one more morsel made me genuinely distraught. More succinctly, this flavor is spicy, and that’s disturbing. I’m going to go ahead and associate that with hamburger, but — I hate to say it — more than anything, it tastes like vomit. 0 out of 10.
Pale pink top, yellowy bottom: hot dog, by process of elimination. And thank goodness for the process of elimination because there’s no way to tell what this is supposed to be just by eating it. It’s sort of smokey, but with an underlying — you guessed it! — sweetness that stresses me out. I’m sure there are situations where smokey and sweet flavors work well together, but this fluorescent party foul cannot be one of them. 1 out of 10.
I wanted to arrive at a total rating by taking the average of the scores for the individual flavors, but that would be a 2-rating, and that felt too high. This bag is worse than the sum of its parts; somehow, the fact that nearly half of the flavors are nearly edible just makes it even more demoralizing. The only thing it has in common with a real tailgate is the fact that both make me want to drink heavily.
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 11 oz bag
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 1 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 pieces) 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.