Chicken Bones – it’s not what you think (unless you’re from the Maritimes)
There’s seemingly no limit to funny food names in Canada’s Maritime provinces. Blueberry grunt, Fat Archies, and even pets de soeurs (“nun farts”) are all popular east coast treats. But when it comes to inventive monikers, Chicken Bones has them all beat.
Chicken Bones have nothing to do with poultry. However, imaginative observers will note that these small, bright pink, rectangular hard candies bear a passing resemblance to their namesake. Between the whimsical name, the eye-catching colour, and the delicious taste, it’s not surprising that Chicken Bones are a beloved Maritime essential. And now these humble household staples are suddenly trendy!
Chicken Bones made their debut at Ganong’s of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, in 1885. They’re the brainchild of candy maker Frank Sparhawk, who pioneered the spicy cinnamon hard candy with the thin, bittersweet chocolate centre. The family-owned Ganong is the oldest confectioner in Canada and they’re no strangers to starting trends (they were the first to debut a heart-shaped chocolate box). Yet for more than a century, Chicken Bones have been a Maritimes-only secret. But now they’re reaching a new audience.
Chicken Bones’ bright pink colour makes it highly photogenic and social-media-ready. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s finding its way into hip Maritime coffee shops as both a seasoning and a pretty drink topping. The crushed candies are adorning baked goods across the region, finding their way onto Christmas squares in lieu of candy canes and infusing an extra kick into cheesecake and brownies. And at Trueman Blueberry Farms, an eight-generation farm in Aulac, New Brunswick, you’ll find that Chicken Bones ice cream is one of the most popular picks of all their scratch-made concoctions.
It’s arguably a New Brunswick distillery, though, that has given Chicken Bones their biggest kick, in more ways than one. Moonshine Creek Distillery produces a Chicken Bones-inspired liqueur. The Waterville-based company (which has no affiliation with Ganong) debuted the product in 2019 and New Brunswickers lined up around the block to get their hands on a bottle. Thankfully, production has remained steady, allowing those living further afield to get their hands on this liquid gold.
Chicken Bones Liqueur is fantastic over ice cream or splashed into coffee or hot chocolate. Chicken Bones mudslides, White Russians, chocolate martinis are all fantastic and the team at Moonshine Creek highly recommends adding it to a Brandy Alexander for an extra special treat. Adding a dusting of crushed Chicken Bones candy to the rim of your mug is an essential step in making your drink as festive as possible!
No matter how you choose to serve them, after one taste of Chicken Bones, you’ll be ready to declare yourself an honourary Maritimer.
feature photo via Ganong Facebook page