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Tikka masala chips, jalapeño M&Ms & wasabi-cream Oreos: how candy and snack food companies are targeting international audiences

Luke Jones via Flickr / Creative Commons

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M&M’s is rolling out three new offerings of its classic peanut candy in 2019 -- English Toffee Peanut, Mexican Jalapeño Peanut and Thai Coconut Peanut

The move is the latest in a larger trend by snack food and candy companies who are turning their focus towards marketing candy and snacks featuring international or cultural flavors -- think Tapatio Doritos Chile Limon Corn Nuts, or even the recently-announced hot wing and wasabi cream Oreos coming to China -- in the hopes of attracting a more ethnically-diverse customer base by introducing international flavors.

A popular move for many manufacturers is to add heat to their products, something that is already prevalent in many candies and snacks in Mexico, and that influence is becoming increasingly visible here in the U.S.

How has the candy and snack food industry shifted its marketing focus to more international flavors? What are some examples of companies that have been successful in doing so? Is this a recent trend?


Jason Liebig, food historian, candy collector and author of “Collecting Candy,” a blog that documents candy packaging, marketing and history; he also hosted the Cooking Channel show “Food Flashback,” where he explored popular snacks and treats from the past that went away and came back

John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia; he is also on the board The Frankford Candy Company, which is best known for making the original Chocolate Easter Bunny, as well as Herr’s Food Company, which makes a variety of snack foods like chips, pretzels and popcorn