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Election and candidate-themed products span the spectrum from candy to condiments and tea to toilet paper. It’s all in good fun and meant to put a humorous and somewhat irreverent spin on an otherwise divisive election. Something consumers—and all of America—may need in order to stomach the weeks leading up to Election Day.
Politically inspired products that are synced up with the presidential election—masks, costumes and more—come along just about every four years. This year is no different.
Well, maybe it is a little.
Few times in our nation’s history have a pair of presidential candidates garnered so much attention and contempt. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making the kind of headlines political satirists eat up. So why wouldn’t creative brand marketers jump all over the opportunity to exploit the election by introducing light-hearted novelties and collectible items?
Is candidate candy scarier than Halloween?
Several manufacturers are hoping to sweeten the election with their confections. Clever Candy makes chocolate bars featuring money with Clinton and Trump's pictures. She is on a $3 bill featuring the words "Trust me," while he is on a $1 billion bill with the words "Because I'm richer than you" written at the bottom of his picture.
The Mint Box sells patriotic-colored small mints that echo how some may feel about the major party candidates. One is Hilary Crap: The Crap Doesn't End. The other is Trump Crap: The Endless Crap. And for those whose feelings may extend to the entire political party, the manufacturer offers Demo-Crap and Re-Poop-Lican mints.
The “candy-dates” line by specialty candy retailer IT’SUGAR is, however, hard to beat.
“As the 2016 presidential election heats up and continues to spook America, IT’SUGAR retail locations nationwide will be getting into the holiday spirit to celebrate the candy-dates with an exclusive collection of Trump or Treat and Hilloween candies,” Jeff Rubin, founder and CEO of IT’SUGAR wrote in an email to Food Dive.
Rubin went on.
“It’s the opportunity for our customers to eat away their sorrows as the campaign trail continues,” he wrote. “As a brand, IT'SUGAR never wavers from its unapologetic and slightly rebellious attitude. We continuously look for ways to make our mark on today’s most popular current and cultural events as equal opportunity offenders, and this election is no different.”
“Each candidate has his or her own exclusive IT’SUGAR candy. Donald Trump – or Trump or Tweet – will forever be immortalized as an orange pumpkin, with a box of candy pumpkins. Hillary Clinton – or Hilloween – will find her home as a witch, with a corresponding box of candy corn,” wrote Ruben. “IT’SUGAR also has an exclusive, giant Trump lollipop for those who want to do a bit of an impersonation. Inspired by the Donald’s infamous coif, this treat is flavored like carrot cake.”
From tea to shining tea
The TeaBook, based in Los Angeles, is putting its own irreverent spin on the presidential nominees with its DemocraTEA 2016 campaign. The company recently rolled out two specialty teas: Hillary ClinTEAn and Donald TEArump.
Founder Noah Bleich — or, as his business card reads, Head Tea Sipper — told Food Dive about the two-fold idea behind the teas.
“We wanted to make food fun again, make tea fun. And we wanted to make something collectible. We’re the first collectible tea ever,” he said.
The company, founded two years ago, introduced what it calls "Collect Teables." The exclusive line of fine teas packaged inside artistically drawn limited-run tea wrappers feature items such as an earl grey AgathaChrisTea and a Shakespearmint tea.
Bleich said he also hopes the Clinton and Trump inspired teas will get out the vote.
“Not everyone likes this election, but we need to get people to vote," he said. "Our slogan is: Politics may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but our PoliTEAcal teas won’t.”
Bleich said he finds satire rather delicious.
“Political satire has been around forever,” he said. “We use lots of hidden satire in creating our teas. It’s all over the packaging. And we infuse flavor as a joke. We use satire, not insults. For example, TEArump is a pure white tea with peach flavoring, which we feel depicts Donald Trump – a big white guy known for his peach-colored spray tan.”
In another fun twist, the tea bags can be placed side-by-side to make it look as if Hillary and Donald are enjoying tea time together.
“People love it," Bleich said. "They can have their tea and share poliTEAcal views. It’s all good fun. Some people hate both candidates, but we’re making them tasty.”
Pasta for every party
For political pundits who want to walk the party line, The Pasta Shoppe , based in Nashville, TN, offers Republican and Democratic Party pasta. The Republican variety features elephant and block R shapes in — what else — red colors. Similarly, the Democratic pasta includes donkeys and a block D in blue. Items are sold online on Amazon and direct from The Pasta Shoppe.
Vice president and co-founder Carey Aron, known in her shop as the Head Noodle, told Food Dive that they entered the market to fill a void.
“We serve a unique niche, making premium pasta using a boutique-style artisan manufacturing process – imagine what you see in Italy," Aron said. "Bronze tooling is used to create the shapes. We make fun-shaped, themed pasta that’s not only good for you, but creative, innovative and fun.”
Aron said the company first introduced political-party-themed pasta for the 2012 election, but was "a bit late to the game." They started earlier this year.
"It’s meant to be fun and light-hearted. It’s clever to share and fun to give as gifts,” Aron said.
How have consumers reacted?
Overwhelmingly positively, it seems.
“Consumers love it," Aron said. "We make it very family-oriented with trivia-related questions on the inside wrapper so everyone learns something – or can test each other’s knowledge of their respective parties.”
Rubin of IT’SUGAR was more emphatic.
“The IT’SUGAR One Scary Election products are getting an incredible reaction from customers and fans of the brand. We can’t stock the shelves fast enough!" he wrote. "These products truly embody what IT’SUGAR is all about – immersing our customers in the brand’s irreverent voice and providing content that they just can’t keep to themselves.”