To a little kid, there are two qualities that are of utmost importance in any candy: flavor and fun. Now, a candy that has both of these elements is ideal—take Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, for example—but a complete rarity. More often than not, you'll find candies that have great flavor and no fun (say, Werther's Originals), or are plenty of fun, but don't taste all that special (like Melody Pops, for instance).
On the far bottom right corner of this conceptual map, at the top end of the fun spectrum but bottom end of flavor, lies Nik-L-Nips, the five-to-a-pack, booze bottle shaped, syrup-filled wax bottles.
As an actual edible treat goes, they are terrible. They taste like watered down corn syrup with a faint soupçon of artificial fruit flavor—that's if you can even manage to get the stuff out of the little bottles to begin with. In order to get at them, you're required to bite the waxy tops off of the containers and spit'em out. What other candy in the world requires you to spit before you eat?
Of course, that's also what makes them so fun to a kid. Nik-L-Nips are colorful, they look cool, they're called nips for chrissake, and you have to spit before eating them. What could be cooler than that?
What's truly surprising to me is that what with the proliferation of candy-like adult drinks these days, an adult version of Nik-L-Nips hasn't come out yet. I'm sure whoever bottles these things could make a deal with the DeKuyper's folks to package and market sour fruit flavored nips to underage college kids or overaged Eyewitness Booze Investigators.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.