One of our readers suggested we give these a try. So we went big and bought three of the 5 varieties.
Licorice is such a loaded term. First off, none of these things are licorice, let’s get that out of the way. This is licorice. As is this. Even this. But anything NOT black, that doesn’t taste like anise isn’t licorice in my book. That doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it different.
Kind of like when you were 12 and didn’t make the baseball/football/cheerleading team. Your mom sat you down, and explained that you weren’t “bad” at it, the team just needed something else. Then she gave you a Hot Pocket and added to the reason you didn’t make the team in the first place. Thanks, MOM!
So let’s not sugar coat this like Mom did. Let’s keep it on the real. Let’s call it like it is: red licorice ISN’T as good as real, black licorice. Ok? Not as good. Bring on the binge eating and self esteem issues. But even though it isn’t as good, it still has the ability to be great. Red Vines knows what’s up. A few other makers of the red variety have gotten it right. Sadly though, almost all of the rest suck(check out our licorice section: it’ll become clear). Too soft, too sweet, too non-chewy, too something.
Nice buildup, eh?
Anyhow, I busted these out Sunday. Among the taste testers were Mrs. Guru, Jonny Guru Jr., his pal, and a random neighborhood girl who wandered over. Before I discuss the taste, take a gander at the insides of each box:
That’s cherry above. Looks pretty decent, true color, albeit perhaps a bit sticky, right? You aint seen nothing yet.
Even better! The strawberry looks a bit drier. Both of course have tons off sour sweet crystals on the outside. It’s at this point that I start salivating.
And then shit starts to get real. Real…gross. Above is the apple. Just look at the box for a moment. See all the…juice all over the place? What is it? Where is it coming from? I’m not OCD or anything, but I’m not into super sticky/dirty food. Grosses me out.
However, I know enough to know that the proof is in the pudding. So I tried all three. Starting from the top:
Cherry- kinda good. At first taste, you get hit with that black cherry smell and taste. The sour level is there, but I’d characterize these more as tart. However, the overall consistency is very good- a thick chew, tough, and overall, pretty surprising. However, the cherry flavor gets old for me quickly-I’m just not a major cherry fan for most candies.
Strawberry- I was expecting these to take top honors, and they were very good. Authentic strawberry flavor, the “cleanest” of the bunch, and a good balanced sweet and sour attack made these a winner. I likey.
Apple- Or as I like to call them, goo sticks. But hold the phone. Just when you least expect it….we have a winner! The apple was the unanimous favorite of all of us, save for the neighborhood kid, and who care what she thinks? She’s four. Despite the apple licorice being the messiest, the flavor was intense and on point. Think about it: apple licorice? No one makes it. And this apple flavor has such a real, red apple taste. The sour is again more of a tart component, but that’s a selling point. I like it when sour accents sweet, not when it’s the only thing there.
I put these in the fridge, as I do with a lot of candy, and it really helped to make them a bit stiffer and bit less….gloopy. But even with the gloop, I’m buying these again. Despite being old, and bitter, I do appreciate the fact that these things are organic and natural. We put so much crap in our bodies every day without even knowing it, it’s nice to have a real food treat at the end of the day.
Putting these up against Red Vines…I can safely say that I would eat these (the apple or maybe strawberry varieties) at least half the time, if not more. Give them a try, and let me know what you think, and if yours are as gloopy. You can pick them up at Whole Foods, or buy from the link below. Note: these also come in mango and pomegranate flavors, but the store I bought at didn’t have them. Next time!