CHICAGO — Among hundreds of new products on display at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, a standout flavor was dill pickle, adding a tangy twist to popcorn, nuts and seeds.

Pickle’s popularity extends from heightened demand for fermented foods and flavors as consumers shift away from sugary products. Americans are shunning high-calorie soft drinks in favor of kombucha, shrubs and other vinegar-based beverages, associated with digestive health benefits and lower sugar content. Emerging global cuisines are ushering in such tart and sour staples as kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut.

As a component of classic American comfort food, dill pickle offers a familiar flavor and may stir up nostalgic memories of backyard barbecues, picnics and ballgames.

At the Sweets & Snacks Expo, gherkin was lurking in at least two new popcorn products. Cornfields, Inc., Waukegan, Ill., has expanded its G.H. Cretors popcorn line with a new organic dill pickle variety, featuring a dash of real dill weed and sea salt. Hammond’s Candies, Denver, has added a dill pickle variant to its range of specialty popcorn, which is crafted using original family recipes, according to the company.

Brands featuring pickle-flavored sunflower seeds at the show include Spitz from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division, and Giant Snacks, Wahpeton, N.D., which showcased a new reduced-sodium Kettle Roast variety with a sweet dill pickle flavor. Diamond Foods, a subsidiary of Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., displayed its new line of Emerald flavored cashews, which includes a dill pickle variety. The Carolina Nut Co., Henderson, N.C., featured its dill pickle seasoned peanuts, which the company describes as “pack(ing) a salty vinegar punch with a hint of garlic.”

And from Van Holten and Sons, Inc., a Waterloo, Wis.-based producer of pickle products, comes Pickle-Ice, a 2-oz freeze pop made with the company’s pickle juice and enhanced with electrolytes. The product, which was unveiled at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, was developed as a sugar-free alternative to sports drinks.

“Athletes have praised the electrolyte benefits of pickle juice for years and now it’s easy to get a refreshing boost anytime,” said Eric Girard, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Van Holten’s.

While applications and formats may be somewhat limited (in other words, don’t bank on Dill Pickle Oreos), the flavor of dill pickle adds an appealing and recognizable tartness to traditional salty snacks.

Click for a slideshow of pickle-flavored snacks.