Most people fall on one side of the licorice fence–they love it, or they hate it. And out of those people, 95% think you’re talking about Red Vines when you say the word licorice. And Red Vines are great, I love them, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a whole world out there of delectable black licorice, (which is the only kind of real licorice, of course) some salty, some hard, some creamy, some laced with honey….you get the point. And frankly, there’s a great little subset world of red “licorice” that’s pretty much dominated by the American Licorice’s Company’s Red Vines line – classic, Jumbo (you have to try these, they’re thicker), Bits, Laces, etc.
But what’s a brother to do it he wants a flavored twist? I started reminiscing with a co-worker about grape Red Vines, which I’d never tried, but he swore by as a kid. I started the search, and I’m sad to report that grape Red Vines are no longer. But that’s never stopped me before (except with Wacky Wafers….WHY!?!? WHY!??! Bring them back!!!), so I fired up the google net, and looked. And looked. And looked. And this is what I found: unless you’re buying small batch home made twists from some arcane mom & pop local candy company, you’re not getting them. Unless of course, you know Kenny.
See, Kenny’s the new flavored twists guy. He makes them in many, many flavors, and has pretty much cornered the market. I had nothing to lose, so I plunked down some duckets and ordered some grape, watermelon, peach, blue raspberry, and green apple.
First impression: these things are sweaty. Yes, they’re made with fruit juice, so….wait. Hold on-aren’t a LOT of candies made with real fruit juice? Yes. And are they all sweaty? No. Ok, so..then what’s the reason for the perspiring fruit twists? It’s kind of fucking gross to pull a twist out of the bag, only to get a smooth sheen of…goop all over you. Isn’t it? Me no likee.
But I can forgive a lot, especially if a candy tastes good. There’s ways around sweaty twists–aging, for instance. But let’s discuss the overall taste of these things first-
Grape- the reason I started looking in the first place. And they don’t disappoint-they’re pretty damn good. The grape flavorr is real and good tasting. Ideally, it’d be a bit tarter, but it’s solid.
Green Apple- Another solid flavor. For some reason these weren’t sweaty. But tasty, tart, and chewy. Yum
Watermelon- We have another winner. Not great, but the essence of watermelon is there.
Blue Raspberry- Decent. Nothing to pontificate about though.
Peach – Foul. These things were sweating like Dom DeLuise in a sauna. And the taste? Weird. Not like a peach, but like someone’s old peach perfume. Stay away.
While some of these flavors are good, there’s a core issue that we haven’t discussed yet: the chew factor. Yes, I like my Red Vines aged, cause I need a solid chew. Kenny’s Fruit Twists actually come out of the bag a bit firmer than Red Vines, but they’re still not firm enough for me.
My next plan is to age the fuck out of these things and see what’s what. My method is simple: take them all out of their bags, put them in a Red Vines-esque tub, and leave the lid off for a while. If these things truly can get their legitimate non-hater chew on, then they might be worth an occasional purchase. If not,…then they’re just pretenders, and I’ll stick with the ‘Vines.
Bottom Line : Time will tell, but these are most likely a once in a while dalliance-I don’t think they’re gonna unseat big Red (Vines) any time soon.