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Cup Noodles wants to rethink the way you eat ramen with new s’mores flavor

CNN  —  Ramen isn’t the first food to come to mind when you think of sweet treats. Cup Noodles is trying to change that — with a new s’mores-flavored instant ramen. The limited-edition offering combines microwavable noodles with a sauce-based flavor blend of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers, plus additional mini marshmallows to sprinkle on top. The result: a sweet and gooey dessert you can prepare in just five minutes. While this marks Cup Noodles’ first foray into dessert territory, the noodle maker is no stranger to non-traditional ramen pairings. “Cup Noodles Campfire S’mores” is the latest in a series of seasonal flavors aimed at shaking up how consumers perceive the brand. Nissan Foods' new pufferfish-flavored cup noodles are sold at a supermarket in Tokyo. Rinka Tonsho/CNN Related article Cup Noodles serves up notoriously poisonous pufferfish Parent company Nissin will sell the $1.18 soup online and at Walmart stores nationally while supplies last. But a cheap image is one of the challenges facing Cup Noodles, said GlobalData retail analyst Neil Saunders, He sees the brand’s experiments with unconventional combinations as an attempt to elevate its products and expand the occasions when a consumer might choose to eat ramen. “It’s positioned as being something that’s quite interesting and novel, not just a boring thing you’d buy because you’re on a budget,” Saunders said. Nissin Foods USA Senior VP of Marketing Priscila Stanton pointed to previous limited offerings as Cup Noodles’ efforts to expand beyond a “pantry staple.” That lineup of flavors includes Pumpkin Spice, Everything Bagel and Breakfast (a mixture of the classic breakfast combination of maple syrup pancakes, sausage and eggs). “Ramen is eaten at all parts of the day during all times,” she said. “We believe that ramen can play in all of these different areas, and sweet is definitely one of those areas that we’ve had some success in.” S’mores season With summer season in full swing, there’s been no shortage of s’mores flavored snacks. Brands like Oreo, Pop Tarts and Goldfish have debuted their own renditions of the beloved campfire treat. Despite the saturated s’mores market, Saunders sees Cup Noodles as occupying a unique position that could get people talking because of ramen’s association with traditionally savory flavors. “It shakes things up in the consumer’s mind,” he said. “When it’s sweet, it’s odd, but that actually adds to the ‘let’s taste this and see what it’s like’ factor.” Nissin sees the main opportunity among Gen Z and millennials. Stanton says younger buyers tend to be more playful with their tastes, adding that the s’mores flavor appeals to the connection between food and childhood memories. “We believe this nostalgic flavor is going to start a lot of conversations and get people to remember those campfire moments that they had growing up or are still having,” she said. Saunders doesn’t see the s’mores trend ending anytime soon. The snack’s seasonality gives it staying power, he said, comparing it to the recurring pumpkin spice craze in the fall. “I think the s’mores thing is here to stay because it is a very embedded part of consumer culture,” he said. “It is one of those things that’s a very well-established part of the consumption calendar.”