David Wahl, Director of Awesome at Archie McPhee, holds this season’s three new candy cane flavors: brisket, butter and Caesar salad. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

David Wahl, Director of Awesome at Archie McPhee, holds this season’s three new candy cane flavors: brisket, butter and Caesar salad. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Brisket, sardine, Caesar salad: Dare to eat Archie McPhee candy canes?

The famous novelty seller based in Mukilteo, with a store in Seattle, has a dozen flavors to tease your palate.

MUKILTEO — There’s something fishy about these candy canes.

What’s up with that?

Leave it to our fun friends at Archie McPhee to come up with sardine-flavored candy canes.

Sardine is among the tantalizing flavors from the novelty giant famous for its weird and clever gifts and gags. Other cane choices are ketchup, mac and cheese, pickle, bacon, kale, hot dog, sour cream and onion, brisket, butter and Caesar salad.

A six pack is $6.95. The striped confections look suspiciously like normal candy canes and are packaged in a box with cool graphics.

Do people really eat them?

“Yeah, they do,” said David Wahl, who goes by the title “Director of Awesome.” He started at Archie McPhee 30 years ago and worked his way up to that role.

Archie McPhee is named in honor of creator Mark Pahlow’s wife’s great-uncle who liked practical jokes. Products are sold online and at numerous retailers. Mail order catalogs from 1985 to 2008 are in the Smithsonian archives.

The flagship store in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, at 1300 N 45th St., has everything you didn’t know you needed, plus a rubber chicken museum. Online travel company Tripadvisor ranks it the No. 16 shopping destination in Seattle. I’d put it higher.

The McPhee think tank and wholesale center has been hidden in plain sight in Mukilteo for about 25 years. The building blends into a business park within blocks of the Mukilteo YMCA and police station.

A number of different Archie McPhee candy cane flavors are available for the holiday season. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A number of different Archie McPhee candy cane flavors are available for the holiday season. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

It’s marked with a simple nameplate that says “Accoutrements.” You’ve probably passed it many times and had no idea the creative minds were inside designing yodeling pickles, finger puppets, bacon soap and underpants for squirrels. They spend hours debating the size of Bigfoot’s butt to make it anatomically correct.

McPhee is a go-to for all things Bigfoot and items in honor of J.P. Patches, the state’s beloved clown newly featured on an official license plate.

There are no clown-flavored candy canes. At least, not yet.

The oddball candy canes launched with bacon a dozen years ago. It’s a top flavor, along with pickle.

“And, shockingly, mac and cheese, even though it tastes kind of like a foot,” Wahl said.

He didn’t say if it was Bigfoot’s foot.

Cane ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, and titanium dioxide.

Flavors come and go. Neither gravy nor coffee made this year’s list. Some get repurposed into small bites. Fried chicken hard candies come in a decorative tin for $5.95.

“My dream would be just like Willy Wonka to do a full meal of candy canes, where you started with the appetizer and worked your way to dessert,” Wahl said.

What better platform than the candy cane. The hooked candy sticks have been a holiday treat for centuries. These days, classic peppermint competes with the likes of Starburst, Dr. Pepper and Oreo on store shelves.

Wahl came up with the Caesar salad cane, a new flavor this season.

“It went viral this year because someone tweeted it with, ‘This is the real war on Christmas,’” he said.

The McPhee canes are social media sensations, with taste tests galore on YouTube and TikTok.

“It’s a fun group activity. It’s kind of a dare,” Wahl said. “It is a sign of bravery if you’re willing to taste a sardine candy cane.”

They don’t come much braver than Jacqueray Smith, a Daily Herald multimedia sales consultant who stepped up to the sardine challenge.

“It stinks. It smells like fish food,” she said. “Fish food, but sweet.”

Her take on the Caesar salad cane: “Sweet disgust.”

A pack of hot dog candy canes, which look suspiciously like a normal candy canes but have a taste reminiscent of the water left over from boiling some franks, sits on a shelf at the Archie McPhee wholesale building. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A pack of hot dog candy canes, which look suspiciously like a normal candy canes but have a taste reminiscent of the water left over from boiling some franks, sits on a shelf at the Archie McPhee wholesale building. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

My 3-year-old granddaughter found it to be delicious.

Wahl and the team create three new flavors to market each year. It’s as serious as getting Bigfoot’s butt size right.

“We sit around the table and blind taste-test them first,” he said. “We’ve started working on the ones for next year.”

He can’t say what. We’ll just have to wait.

Is there a person, place or thing making you wonder, “What’s Up With That?” Contact reporter Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace council taps planning commissioner for open seat

With five votes, Rory Paine-Donovan was affirmed to join the ranks of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

CEO Amy King standing outside of a Pallet shelter. (Courtesy of Pallet)
After rapid rise, Everett’s Pallet hits milestone: 100 shelter villages

Temporary home manufacturer Pallet hires locals who have “experienced homelessness, substance abuse or the justice system.”

Locals from the group Safe Lynnwood gather in front of the Ryann Building on 196th Street SW to protest the opening of a methadone clinic in the building on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Despite controversy, Lynnwood opioid treatment center opens its doors

For weeks, protesters have objected to the center opening near Little League fields and a Boys and Girls Club.

A man was injured and a woman found dead Sunday night after an RV fire in Marysville. (Marysville Fire District)
Woman dead, man burned in Marysville RV fire

The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office and Marysville Police Department were investigating the cause of the fire.

Ismael Cruz-Sanchez speaks at his sentencing at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Driver in fatal I-5 crash in Arlington gets 10 years

Ismael Cruz-Sanchez had a lengthy history with impaired driving. He pleaded guilty to killing Jason Vogan, 45.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Boil water advisory in effect for 75 Snohomish homes

A water main break resulted in outages and possible contamination Sunday. Service was expected to return by Wednesday.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
No right turns on red gets a look, a bid to expand sports betting arrives

It’s a new week. Here’s what’s happening on Day 22 of the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

The final 747 is revealed during a celebration in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The plane was rolled out Dec. 6 from the Everett assembly factory and delivered to the customer, Atlas Air. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Still jaw-dropping’: Last Boeing 747 takes the stage in Everett

Thousands, including actor John Travolta, gathered at Boeing’s Everett factory to bid goodbye to the “Queen of the Skies.”

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Lobbyist barred from WA Capitol after ruling he stalked representative

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge.

Most Read