May 3, 2024 - Culture

Tracing TikTok's viral chamoy pickle kit trend's San Antonio origins

Illustration of a chamoy pickle wearing glasses and looking at its phone.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

An international TikTok trend involving content creators noshing on bright red pickles overstuffed with candies could be the birth child of San Antonio.

Why it matters: The chamoy pickle kit trend has provided a substantial boost for local small businesses like Casa Dulce, where owner Joey Hernandez tells Axios that sales of the ingredients needed to build a kit doubled and have been "non-stop" for the last two years.

  • Yet, not many are aware of the local connection.

The big picture: Chamoy and other sour candies are popular in South Texas and throughout Mexico, but locally owned CandyMex Express credits the trend's origin to San Antonio, where their family-owned business gained attention by posting TikToks of them enjoying the treats.

Catch up quick: Hernandez noticed an increase in sales about two years ago.

  • Today, videos of TikTokers building their snack — often a pickle wrapped in a Fruit Roll-Up and stuffed with an assortment of Mexican candies — and then showing their first reactions, are still gaining traction on the app.

How it works: Customers who buy the kits via TikTok Shop or in person receive a do-it-yourself package with the chamoy-soaked pickle and an assortment of candies people can use to wrap, stuff and drench it with.

  • It doesn't seem to matter how you use the Takis, Salsaghetti or Lucas, so long as the end result is as sour, sweet and crunchy as possible.
  • Each kit sells for about $26 or more, depending on the candies.

By the numbers: One of the top-liked chamoy pickle kit videos was posted in December 2022. It has more than 17 million reactions in the form of likes, comments, saves and shares.

  • Alamo Candy's Big Tex Pickle, which is sold by another local company, is the base in the video.
  • The hashtags #chamoypicklekit and #chamoypickle have been used 30,000 and 50,000 times, respectively.

Zoom out: TikTokers like Chloe Dillon and Latisha Clark have taken up the trend in Australia.

  • Hernandez says it's not unusual for his store to receive international orders.
  • He believes that other local candy stores have also noticed the demand and sees San Antonio as the hub for providing TikTokers with pickle kits, whether they're selling them or using them for content creation.

What they're saying: "For us to see 100% increase on certain brands, it was crazy. There were many times when even the manufacturers couldn't keep up with supply," he says.

  • Alamo Candy enforced buying limits on the Big Tex pickles, its website shows.

The bottom line: CandyMex Express writes online that the trend is also an appreciation of Mexican culture.

  • "Chamoy, with its Mexican roots, adds a cultural twist to this trend. Many creators use this opportunity to celebrate and appreciate Mexican cuisine, fostering cross-cultural connections and appreciation," the website says.

What's next: San Antonians who want to try the trend without paying TikTok Shop shipping can purchase the ingredients at local candy shops like Alamo Candy Co. and Casa Dulce.


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