Holiday Food, Beverage Blitz Includes (We're So Sorry) Pepsi Salted Caramel

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Credit: Pepsi

PepsiCo on Thursday announced a slew of holiday-themed food and beverages that will either satisfy consumers' sweet tooth or leave them lurching for some Tums. Or maybe both at the same time.

The limited-time products include Pepsi Salted Caramel, which the brand describes as an indulgent drink that "blends the refreshing taste of cola with a delicious caramel finish." Mtn Dew gets into the holiday act with a "Holiday Brew" variety that combines its flagship green Mtn Dew flavor with its Mtn Dew Code Red variety. But wait, there's more, including Izze Cranberry Spice.

On the food side, PepsiCo is bringing back holiday offerings including Lay's Wavy Potato Chips Dipped in Chocolate, Cap'n Crunch's Christmas Crunch—with red and green crunch berries—and Cheetos Snowflakes, which are white-cheddar flavored and come shaped like, you guessed it, snowflakes.

PepsiCo, in a press release, stated it was making "more limited-time products than ever before to fill consumers' snack and beverage needs at any holiday moment."

Seasonal, limited-time offerings have ballooned across the food and beverage industry as brands seek attention from consumers thirsting for more variety. "It's a good way to get social media buzz and fingers twitching on Instagram," says Beverage-Digest Editor Duane Stanford. "Consumers are moving to a much more diversified palate and are really interested in new creative flavors. People like to experiment. People like to jump around to lots of different things."

Credit: PepsiCo

Starbucks, which partners with PepsiCo on bottled drinks such as the seasonal Peppermint Mocha Latte, introduced its own products for its shops Thursday. The coffee giant has two new seasonal drinks, a toasted white chocolate mocha and a chestnut praline chai tea latte, and a new seasonal candy cane whoopie pie. Its promoting the drinks with five consecutive afternoons of buy one, get one deals.

Rival Dunkin' Donuts, meanwhile, says it's rolling out two donuts based on winter cookies, in frosted sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie flavors.

Plenty of chains have special winter coffee drinks, so they look for ways to stand out. Caribou Coffee, which describes its Fa La Latte as tasting "like eggnog ice cream, but much warmer," used the hashtag #AntlerUpfortheHolidays when it divulged its holiday lineup, also on Nov. 9.

McDonald's, which serves peppermint mocha and peppermint hot chocolate during the holiday season, has updated red McCafé cups this year with stars it says are meant to put "wonder in every sip."

The holiday products come as pumpkin spice season ends (spicing up an array of coffee, cereal, bagels, donuts, cream cheese, muffins and beer, among other pumpkin-flavored products). The holiday onslaught is a logical extension of pumpkin season, Stanford says. "Even though people make fun of it, consumers still flock to those products," he says.

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