Darrell Lea and Natural Vines: Licor-esque

Candy is dandy but Licorice is ridicorous.

Reviewed by Matty

November 12, 2010

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“I’ll take Candy is Dandy for a thousand, Alex.”

“The European kids like it strong, salty and iodizey. The US dandies tend to like it light and boring, with added fruity flavors because they can’t handle the unique flavor of this Dark Root on its own.”

“What is Licorice?”



“That’s Right!”

Yes, I made that up. But still. It rings true. Unless you’re talking about Me. The only thing I don’t like about licorice – or “liquorice” as those outside the US tend to spell it – is that most candies that call themselves licorice … barely taste like it. I likes me what the europes gots…

But – hey, I’ll try them all! I’m equal opportunity.


So 2 companies – one from the US and one from Australia – sent us loads of licorice and I felt it was only appropriate to jump in and review them all at once. Why not, right?

We got “Strawberry” licorice – 2 types. “Green Apple” and “Mango” licorice and one reg black licorice.

Natural Vines from the Red Vines folks

Darrell Lea’s Fruity Flaves


Reading the backs of the fruit-flavored packages, both Darrell Lea from Australia, and Natural Vines put actual licorice extract in. Good. However…I can’t at all taste the licorice in the strawberry versions. In either one. I like the taste, but do me a favor? Don’t call them licorice. Call them “Strawberry Chews.” Thanks.

Oh – note that we also got a regular black licorice flavor package from Darrell Lea, but I sent it to our reader friend “Martha” for guessing the right song in one of our videos. So maybe she can chime in with a review. I know they’re good though. I buy them and eat them a lot.

So the best I have in my possession right now, as I write and eat, are the Natural Vines Black Licorice. These Natural Vines taste natural with an authentic licorice undertone that sits in the back of the throat. Yums. Thick too. Nice girth. My least favorite are the strawberry versions – made by the same company who makes Red Vines by the way, which I love. For a candy that “contains no high fructose corn syrup, trans fat or soy, are cholesterol-free, low-sodium, vegan and made in a nut free facility”…I’d think the taste would be of real strawberry, no? But in a cruel twist of irony, they actually taste like a hearty version of ye olde Red Vines’ nemesis – the Twizzler! Life is so cruel.

Interestingly, my 2nd favorite of the bunch? Oh this will blow your mind – the strawberry from Darrell Lea. Sorry, to turn on my own logic here, but they’re good. And I wrote about these before, so I won’t again.

Funnily, I realllly like the Green Apple liquorice from Darrell Lea. For one, I can taste the licorice, albeit subtle. And you might think that apple and licorice flavors wouldn’t go well together but then you’d be wrong. And Darrell Lea candy has this real dense, light thickness (yes, I know, confusing – but that’s the best way to describe it), and in every bite I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Plus it kind of fills me up, which is a good subplot to this candy eating story since I sure as shit don’t want to be fat when I get to the last page. (Like what I did there?)

Green Apple (l), Mango (c) and Strawb (r)


Next favorite – Mango Liquorice from Darrell Lea. See above. Just the sheer balls of putting mango in with liquorice is good enough for me to like. If you suck them a little before biting, then you can really get the mango flavor. Just biting them actually gives off pineapple overtones.

In general – this stuff is good and I’d buy again, as I tend to already do. These are all on the 5-7 scale, so all worth buying. These are great for you sweet and cute lil’ ‘mericans who like Apricot beer and Strawberry Quik. But for those of us who like bourbon, some nicotine and a Guiness on the backside, these sweetish things may not be the fix we’re looking for.

Zolli Candy


  1. Ken

    My sister in Australia sends me the Green Apple and it is Green and tastes great. I recently bought some green apple from an american distributor but it was yellow and didn’t smell or taste as good as the stuff from Australia care of my sister. Please don’t be fooled by the product they send to america, it’s just not as good as the product on the shelves in Australia.

  2. Martha

    Darrell Lea’s Black Liquorice rocks! I love how big and soft they are, and, as far as color goes, I wouldn’t care if these were fluorescent puse, I’d still eat ’em.

    Thanks for the candy, Gurus!

  3. Matty

    Not to mention – and no offense to me – but I ain’t no Ansel Adams. The photogging could be better. The color of these didn’t offend me at all. I miss Pepsi Clear for gosh sakes.

  4. Jen

    FYI, without using artificial colors, there is no natural green color that can make a candy look really green. That is why the Green Apple looks yellow or really pale. That’s the best that can be done.
    All technical things aside, I’m gonna try to find these Darrell Lea thingy-s.

  5. Jonny

    I brought a bunch of these to work- and they went FAST, espesh the Darrell Lea stuff. And I have to admit-flavor wise, I reall dug the mango and strawberry. But…enough with the “Natural” word–list the EXACT ingredients, and let that speak for itself. ANd if one of the ingredients is “natural flavors”, then I call shennanigans. We need to know what that actually is, cause I know enough to know that “natural flavors” doesn’t actually mean anything-and according to the FDA, it doesn’t have to.


    Rant done.

    Jonny out.

  6. Lux

    If it tastes like a Twizzler I’m in. I looooove those.

  7. Mike Kelly

    Thanks for the review Matty…glad you liked the Black Natural Vines.

    Very insightful that you suggested we call them “Strawberry Chews”….in focus groups we found that a lot of people who claim they don’t like “licorice” loved Natural Vines when we called them Strawberry fruit chews, even though they do have real licorice extract in them.

    I guess that’s why they call you all the “Gurus” ….

    Hope all is well on your end!


  8. Martha

    Not that I’m a big fan of food coloring, but I find it strange that the Darrell Lea Mango and Strawberry flavors are orange and red, but the Green Apple is not green. Hmm. I’d still try them though.

    I’m looking forward to the Black Liquorice version, and I’ll definitely chime in!

    Rock on, Candy Gurus!


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