Licensors know people love unusual flavor combos in their snacks and drinks.

Jane Neal, Content Editor

February 14, 2024

4 Min Read
(From L to R): Brunch in a Jar Sipping Cream, Leeuwen’s Kraft Mac & Cheese ice cream and GHOST Sour Patch Kids drinks.
(From L to R): Brunch in a Jar Sipping Cream, Leeuwen’s Kraft Mac & Cheese ice cream and GHOST Sour Patch Kids drinks. Beanstalk/Kraft Heinz/GHOST

We just survived Super Bowl LVIII, which might arguably be one of the top snack-infused events of the year, full of nachos, pizza and chicken wings galore. But snack foods aren’t just for sporting events and parties. People snack year-round and food and beverage collaborations continue to be popular with consumers. 

Just ahead of the Super Bowl, License Global shared a new collaboration between Jack Link’s, Frito-Lay and Flamin’ Hot. The collab brought the savory flavor of Fritos Chili Cheese and a kick of Flamin’ Hot to Jack Link’s smoky meat snacks.  

Frito-Lay and Quaker recently released their fifth annual U.S. Snack Index, which revealed that many consumers view snacking as an art. In fact, 80% agree that combining multiple food products to create the perfect bite is an art form. While 65% admit to having eccentric snack combos, they are not the slightest bit embarrassed and will proudly “shout their unique combos from the rooftops” anyway. Other interesting food collaborations include last year Evergreen Licensing adding Hostess brand snacks, Twinkies and Ding Dongs, to its lineup of licensed popcorn. And who can forget Van Leeuwen’s Kraft Mac & Cheese ice cream? 

The Snack Index also revealed Americans feel crunched for time, with 80% feeling their days actually have fewer hours. This burden is most acutely felt by younger generations (85%) with no sign of letting up, as 60% of consumers expect demands to increase in the new year. This has led to an increase of what’s being called the “no-prep dinner,” defined as a simple meal that requires little effort to make. Surprisingly, this will include an increase in dinners rooted in Americans’ favorite snack products. More consumers are integrating their favorite snack products into meals, up 35% over previous years. The Index reports that once a week, over half of consumers proudly use snacks as a key ingredient in no-prep dinners, while more than one-third seize this opportunity multiple times a week. 

Drink it Up 

Collaborations are especially prolific in the beverage aisle. Earlier this month, Kung Fu Tea announced a collaboration with “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir,” to launch two character-themed drinks. G FUEL Energy has launched a multitude of drink collaborations for gamers, including “Mortal Combat,” “Rebel Moon” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Neopets and Atari. GHOST, a lifestyle brand of sports nutrition products, energy drinks, dietary supplements and apparel, has introduced its first licensed ready-to-drink hydration beverage, with four flavors, including Orange Squeeze, Lemon Lime, Kiwi Strawberry and Sour Patch Kids “Redberry.”   

Tasty Treats Appeal to All Ages 

Frances Alvarez, vice president, brand management, Beanstalk, says she has been seeing an increase in food collaborations and licensed snacks.  

“There is a noticeable increase in the number of food and beverage collaborations, and this trend is likely to continue as consumers seek out unique and exciting flavor combinations,” says Alvarez. “Interestingly, companies and brands from different segments and categories are partnering to create unexpected and distinctive mash-ups. These collaborations utilize their respective strengths and can generate buzz and hype with consumers. For instance, Sugarlands Distillery partnered with Eggo to introduce Eggo-Nog and Brunch in Jar sipping-cream liqueurs.” 

While some consumers might think of kids’ snacks when it comes to licensed foods, there are plenty of licensed foods aimed at adults. And who’s to say adults wouldn’t enjoy an occasional SpongeBob SquarePants frozen treat

“Licensed foods have always targeted adults,” says Alvarez. “Restaurant-licensed brand extensions appeal to the millennial and Gen X demographics (e.g., Panera, P.F. Chang’s). There’s also been a resurgence in celebrity chef-licensed products, such as the recent launch of Guy Fieri’s Flavortown and Gordon Ramsay’s frozen meals. Brands also recognize adults are interested in nostalgic and culturally significant experiences and continue to launch products that tap into this emotional connection, such as the Little Debbie ice cream line.”  

And again, sometimes it’s the unexpected combinations that really seem to capture consumers’ imaginations (and tastebuds). Alvarez recalls one of her favorite licensed food collaborations – the Pringles and Caviar Co. partnership

“The trend of eating caviar with mass-market chips like Pringles became popular on TikTok, and our team quickly took advantage of it to launch the product in less than six months,” she says. “The response was overwhelmingly positive, generating almost 2 billion consumer impressions in just a few weeks. It was a surprising pairing but a perfect addition for the moment. Win-win for both companies.” 

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry Article
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like