Have you ever come across a food item that sounds absolutely horrible… until you actually tried it? I’m guilty of it. I once was in a restaurant in Omaha with some family members, and they kept telling me how good the place’s PB&J Burger was. Peanut butter and jelly on a hamburger? No thank you. And then I actually ordered it and tried it. Let me tell you, there’s something about the way the ground beef and peanut butter blended together into this creamy, meaty conglomeration that was absolutely tasty. And any time you combine fruit and meat is a winner. All in all, it was something that shouldn’t have worked — but it did.

We’ve all come across things like this, I’m sure. Grocery store shelves and restaurant menus are full of things that just shouldn’t exist – chocolate-covered crickets? Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew? Lobster ice cream? Some mad scientist made all of them, and they’ve all sold. Sometimes they even go viral and take on a life of their own.

The meat industry isn’t any exception. Imagine pretty much any ingredient that you can think of, and the odds are pretty good that someone’s stuck it in a bratwurst at some point. There’s also the matter of the different animal species that can be processed into food. I’ve seen gummi bear brats, mac & cheese hot dogs, pineapple brats, lion summer sausage, chocolate-covered bologna, kangaroo jerky, shark burgers… the list goes on any on. Just this week, Honeybaked Ham Co. announced that it was jumping onto the pumpkin spice craze by producing a pumpkin spice turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving.

If you’ve dabbled in product development at all, you’ve probably come across an idea and thought, “That could work… but nah. It’s too weird.” Well, maybe it’s not as weird as you think. There is an audience out there who are drawn to culinary oddities. So, if you have an idea that you think could work, have some fun with it. Offer free samples, play with the label, advertise on social media that you’ve created this crazy thing that people have just gotta try.

Here's something to get you started. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up. Think about the flavors of the season – pumpkin pie, candy cane, apple spice, eggnog. Can you find an application in the products you make and come up with the Ultimate Christmas Sausage? Let me know if you’re mad scientist creation sees the light of day.

Sam Gazdziak