Food & Bev

Some of the strangest food (and food-related) products of 2022

You may not crave a ketchup popsicle, but you’re talking about it. And that’s the point.
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· 4 min read

When Tropicana introduced a cereal this year for pouring orange juice over instead of milk, Tropicana Crunch, maybe you thought it was a gag. Or maybe you just gagged. Either way, you may have weighed in about it on social media or Slack.

Brands often do this just to get some buzz, of course. But sometimes they do it to keep things interesting for retailers who like some novelty to liven up the shelves.

“Imagine the dilemma of these food manufacturers who have to show up every month or every quarter,” Edward McLaughlin, a marketing professor with a food-industry focus at Cornell University, told Marketplace. “[A]nd they say to the supermarket buyer, ‘Well, we have nothing going on this quarter, I just hope you buy more of our products.’”

Whatever the reason, 2022 was a year when food brands introduced some flavors and products that were truly bonkers, and collaborated with other brands you’d never expect. And yet, in all the chaos, some trends emerged.

I’ll not have what she’s having: In other 2022 cereal news, Kellogg introduced single-serve “instabowls” for some of its brands where water is poured over the cereal. The bowls contain powdered milk, which is constituted by the water.

This year, Snoop Dogg introduced his Uncle Snoop’s brand of cannabis-infused onion rings, a product apt to both stimulate and satisfy the munchies.

But how high would you need to be before you start craving a Frenchsicle, a ketchup popsicle introduced by French’s this year? Or, for that matter, the nonalcoholic turkey broth beer from Busch? (Trick question: it’s for dogs.)

Brave combo: This year saw a number of food brands join forces to make something…interesting?

For the Big Cheez-It Tostada that Taco Bell tested at a location in California, the snack brand made Cheez-Its 16x bigger than the standard size. You could wash it down with a limited-edition maple syrup-flavored cola, the product of an IHOP-PepsiCo partnership.

Dressing tastefully: Hot Pockets this year released limited-edition cargo shorts with an insulated pocket that—like an oven mitt sewn into your shorts—keeps the Hot Pocket hot without burning hips (which, for some of us, is right where that Hot Pocket goes). Pair them with Heinz’s recent clothing collection that’s printed with ketchup stains. Or if you’re more in the mayonnaise camp, there’s the collab between Kraft Real Mayo and Juicy Couture, with clothing meant to highlight the mayo’s attributes with rhinestone verbiage like “Long Live Velvety” and “Smooth.”

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Footwear had its foodwear moment this year, too. Nike partnered with Fruity Pebbles to release a version of Lebron 19 Low called “Magic Fruity Pebbles.” Adidas, meanwhile, partnered with Waffle House to make a golf shoe that has, naturally, a checkered waffle pattern. Not to be outdone, Crocs teamed up with 7-Eleven to create Crocs in the brand’s orange, red, and green logo colors, along with the Jibbits that attach to the clogs in the shape of their Slurpee, coffee, pizza, and more.

Some bling to complete the look could include a diamond that Hidden Valley Ranch made out of its dressing—science! Or…a pumpkin spice latte-themed engagement ring designed by a UK jewelry company that sells for $10,000.

Beauty and the feast: What every beauty routine needs is a bologna-themed face mask from Oscar Mayer, which is why we’re so sorry to report that shortly after it was introduced this year, it sold out.

Also, sadly, supplies seem to have dwindled for Nails Inc’s cheese-scented nail polish it released in a collab with Velveeta. Maybe you’ll have better luck finding the silver nail polish from Coors Light that, when the nail is pressed against a glass of beer, turns blue if it’s cold enough to drink.

As of this writing, the Tula website still had some of the goods from its collaboration with Magnolia Bakery: a cleansing exfoliator that smells like banana pudding.

Burning for you: Putting the wax back in waxing nostalgic, several comfort brands introduced candles this year. Campbell’s rolled out soup-scented candles, while General Mills released a line of candles with the scents of cereal brands including Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Trix, and Cocoa Puffs.

Vlasic got fired up, too, with a candle that looks and smells exactly like its jar of Original Whole Dills.

Liquid Death, being water, doesn’t have a scent for which anyone’s nostalgic. But in a collab with Martha Stewart, it released an all-black candle modeled to resemble a severed human hand holding a can.

Nighty night: You don’t even need to be awake to be using an unlikely food-branded item introduced this year. Jet-Puffed released a marshmallow-themed queen-sized pillow. And KFC, which perhaps needs a hug, released a body pillow in the shape of a chicken sandwich.

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