The Latest Exotic Snack Food Trends Are Sure to Surprise You

American tastes in snack flavors are getting more exotic and more specific, according to Fona International, an Illinois-based flavor company, as reported by Food Business News.

Forget the clichés (we have far too many bacon flavors already, for instance). Addressing the Sweet & Snacks Expo in Chicago earlier this week, Fona’s market manager, Julie Laughter, reported that new flavors are constantly being added to snack foods.

One category includes such once-exotic fruits as mango (now a mainstay even at McDonald’s) as well as up-and-comers like yuzu and dragon fruit. Fruit, she said, is “almost like a never-ending funnel of innovation” because new varieties keep appearing on the market.

In addition, said Laughter, consumers seem to gravitate towards flavors identified with defining adjectives — not just barbecue but Hawaiian barbecue; not just vanilla but Tahitian vanilla; not just coffee but cold-brew coffee. Nothing wrong with that, especially if you don’t overdo it and know the reasons to drink coffee for your health.

Citrus flavors remain popular, she said, but often with the addition of other ingredients, like ginger or turmeric, or with a touch of spice. “Spicy and hot snacking is where it’s at,” she told the conference. New products with hot and spicy flavors have increased 33% since 2016, she added.

Floral flavors are also coming on strong in specialty products, according to Laughter, including hibiscus, violet, lavender, and orange blossom — though these haven’t yet hit the mainstream.

Innovations in barbecue are another big story. Not just Hawaiian- but also Texas-, Memphis-, and Kansas City-style barbecue flavors are appearing on snack-food shelves. Several kinds of barbecues are among the most iconic Southern foods you have to try at least once.

And coffee flavors are becoming increasingly popular. “With meat snacks,” asked Laughter, “what if you had an espresso rub?”

Just because certain flavors new, of course, they’re not guaranteed to last. Many very popular snack foods have been discontinued, their flavors relegated to fond (or less fond) memory.