Cracker Barrel Sells An Unexpectedly Huge Number Of Candy Sticks

Cracker Barrel is, first and foremost, a restaurant. It's no secret that the chain is known for serving everything from biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and meatloaf, to all other sorts of Americana comfort food. While it is true that a majority of Cracker Barrel's popularity rides on its restaurant, it may be easy to forget that Cracker Barrel is also an "old country general store."

Before you even get to the dining room proper, you have to go through the store — a cross between an old-time general store and a modern-day gift shop. You can purchase an array of items inside, including knick-knacks, country music CDs, Christmas ornaments, and, particularly of note, a lot of candy. So expansive is Cracker Barrel's candy selection that you can purchase everything from Tootsie Rolls and peanut brittle to pecan logs, jawbreakers, lollipops, taffy, and more. What kind of general store would Cracker Barrel be running if they didn't have a lot of candy after all? However, one particular candy that flies off the shelves at Cracker Barrel is something known as candy sticks.

In case you've never heard of candy sticks before, think of a candy cane except it doesn't have the trademark crook and comes in a variety of flavors like strawberry, blueberry, tutti-frutti, and watermelon. It would seem that Cracker Barrel makes a pretty good profit off selling these fruit-flavored candies. In fact, so popular are these candy sticks that the company estimates they sell a few million of them per year. What is it about these candies that makes them so popular?

The candy sticks less than a dollar per stick

Cracker Barrel doesn't hide the fact that its candy sticks are popular. In fact, the company estimates that it sells over 13 million candy sticks per year. To put that in perspective, if you laid each stick end-to-end, you could go from Cracker Barrel's Home Office in Lebanon, Tennessee to San Antonio, Texas, 1,000 miles apart. In short, a whole lot of candy. But what exactly makes these candy sticks so popular to begin with? What makes them so attractive that customers buy millions and millions of them per year?

While Cracker Barrel reasons that these candy sticks make "perfect travel companions" thanks to their slender size, their popularity could also be due to the fact that these candy sticks are actually very cheap. In some locations, you can score a handful of candy sticks being sold for just $1 dollar, making them a very attractive purchase if you have only pocket change to spare. Who could argue with getting 10 candy sticks, each a different flavor and lasting longer than a candy bar, for only a couple of bucks?

Although the cheap price is more than enough to get customers to purchase at least one candy stick, there may actually be another reason why Cracker Barrel is able to offload all of these candies. Cracker Barrel may not specialize in selling candy as much as it specializes in biscuits and fried chicken, but it is good at one very important tactic: Selling nostalgia.

Candy sticks are an old nostalgic treat

If there's one thing Cracker Barrel is good at, it's selling nostalgia. Cracker Barrel does everything it can to make you feel like you're walking into a general store right out of the early twentieth century. What better way to invoke that nostalgic feeling than selling you the classic old-time treat known as candy sticks?

Although candy sticks are somewhat obscure in their origins, they are widely believed to have originated in the United States during the 1830s, where they were known as "barber pole candies" due to their trademark striped pattern. Because of their popularity during that time, the candy is now a symbol of old-fashioned candies, harking back to a simpler time of penny candies and inexpensive treats. Cracker Barrel, ever one to promote its theme of being a simple, down-home restaurant, no doubt would have this treat readily available for customers.

Candy sticks aren't the only type of nostalgic candy that Cracker Barrel sells. The store also sells old-fashioned treats like Cow Tales, coconut slices, butter mints, and rock candy. So long as the candy is nostalgic, old-fashioned, or "retro," it's a safe bet that Cracker Barrel most likely sells it. Although Cracker Barrel has no plans to enter the candy-making business itself, selling old-fashioned treats under its brand name seems to be more than successful.