“There’s a story behind this one.”

It’s Boxing Day. My father-in-law hands over a small, heavy wrapped gift.

Intrigued by the promise of a backstory, I tear open the paper, extracting a small brown bottle. I let out a whoop.

I instantly recognize the gift for what it is: Chicken-Bones Liqueur, the most coveted drink in my area code.

I’d never felt like such a baller. This was the hottest holiday booze in our area. And I had my hands on a full bottle.

Um, did you say “Chicken Bones Liqueur”?

A little primer for anyone outside Atlantic Canada. Chicken Bones, in New Brunswick at Christmas, don’t come from fowl. They are oblong, pink, cinnamon-flavoured candies with a chocolate centre that looks – you guessed it – like a little bird bone.

They’re handmade today, as they have been since 1885, the year Ganong Bros., our beloved local chocolatier, put them into production.

They’re good, I guess. Some people claim to love them. But it’s not really – or at least all – about taste. It’s about tradition. My mother ships Chicken Bones to a friend in Ontario every year. I buy them and I don’t even like them. Along with a fir tree, lobster bisque and a house full of cousins, this is Christmas.

It doesn’t get much more local – or unique – than that.

So when a small local distillery got the genius idea to make a limited-edition holiday tipple flavoured with the candy, the crowd went wild for its liquid nostalgia.

Small, traditional, local and seasonal: all the ingredients for a micro mania.

Remember the Cabbage Patch Dolls craze?

As a child of the 1980s, I recall the mania as our parents lined up for the wide-eyed dolls.

Picture that, just with booze.

The first batch sold out in hours. There were Kijiji ads for bottles reselling for $500 (I still can’t tell if they were serious).

Word got out: a second batch was in the works.

Hundreds of people waited for hours for the liquor stores to open – including my sweet father-in-law, who got his mitts on three of the last eight at his local outlet. Lucky for us, he’s retired and has time for these sorts of errands.

Throughout the holidays, we pulled the bottle out, pouring a nip for guests. It was like flaunting a bottle of Dom Perignon for special guests – New Brunswick-style.

BE the Chicken Bones Liqueur

All the brouhaha got me thinking about the power of nostalgia for your business.

People love to connect with the way things used to be. Give them a taste of a simpler time. Hold their hand down memory lane.

Here are a few takeaways from the Chicken Bones Liqueur craze you can use in your business today:

  • Share archival images from your brand or company. Don’t worry if you haven’t been around since the 1800s, like Ganong. Even the early 2000s look quaint by now. Drag out the old company photo album, and craft some social media posts looking back.
  • Share a story about an enduring value. What does your brand prioritize? Quality? Sustainability? Community? Share an old story showing this value in action from the old days.
  • Highlight an important figure from your company’s past. Who stands out? Why?
  • Gather oral histories of your company and brand. Interview staff members, founders, customers and stakeholders to use now or save for later. These are great fodder for blog posts, social media posts and even maybe a future ad campaign.
  • Invite customers to share memories or stories. Leverage social media to create some buzz.
  • Mark anniversaries and significant milestones. Use them as an opportunity to look back.
  • Hashtag it. With Throwback Thursday (#TBT) and #WayBackWednesday.
  • Share an image of an old logo. Ditto icons, packaging and marketing materials from the good old days.

And remember: scarcity is prosperity.

If you’re launching a nostalgia product or reviving a throwback, limit it. Then brace for the stampede. 

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