Are your taste buds ready to explode? Do you want to dance with fire? You know it! The array of neon-colored Mexican candies had long tempted me at my local Latin market, so finally some friends and I held a proper tasting — and it turned into quite a party. Read on for our review of these out-of-control sweets!
For the most part, Mexican candies are an explosion of extreme flavor, ranging from sour, sweet, salty and spicy, with some individual pieces embodying all of these sensations. They are not for the faint of heart. Some are incredibly funky. The kind of morsel where you think, "Do I like this? Hmm... Wait a minute, something interesting is happening here, I'm unsure, but I'm going to continue . . . " I've had meals in remote parts of SE Asia with a similar thought pattern, where I felt like I got through the meal, triumphed over it, survived it even. Tastes so different to a Western palate, that my dining companion and I high-fived after it was over.
Perhaps it's the Southern California girl within me (grew up pretty close to Mexico), or my junior-high afternoons of loading up on super sour candy right before jazz dance class (all that sugar and Michael Jackson, I was in heaven!), or just my innate predilection for all things simultaneously sweet, sour and spicy. Whatever the reason, I love the intense flavors of candies from Mexico.
For our tasting party, I gathered an assortment of candies, multiples of each for myself and three friends to taste, score and take note of. I scribbled away our assigned score of 1-5 and made an average of each candy's final number. I can think of no greater way to while away an afternoon. Which candy made the grade? We all had a clear favorite.
Mexican Candy Tasting Final Scores (1-5 Stars) & Notes
• De La Rosa Peanut Mazapan: 5 stars. #1 candy by all tasters, like a Mexican peanut halvah. Sandy and pasty, perfectly sweetened and lots of peanut taste. Crumbles in the hand (see it in the below photo, with the red and white striped background).
• Pico Buzzy: Unrated, first candy tasted (forgot to score). Strange, yet oddly delicious — salty, sour tamarind crystals. My sister-in-law had a great idea to sprinkle this all over a lollypop. I thought it'd be perfect to rim a cocktail with this crazy stuff.
• Chamoy Teco: 1.8 stars. Came in a small bag, like fast food ketchup. Tasted like hot, sour, sweet ketchup. Maybe better as a hot and sour sauce, on tofu. Confusing as a candy. Very savory.
• Dolche De Leche Chocolate Coin: 1.3 stars. Some of the waxiest, foulest "chocolate" I've ever had. One friend still likes it, as he says, "I love any chocolate." BLEGH.
• Cremino by Bicolor: 2 stars. This is a Neapolitan bar, with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate side by side. I think it's fantastic, sweet and familiar. Love the dinosaur on the package. Great vanilla section.
• Ante Limon: 3.5 stars. A tiny sack of salty lime powder, resembles something illegal. We all agreed its sour saltiness was a great palate cleanser. It could be another great treat to pair with a margarita. Sister-in-law noted this took her right back to childhood; she's also a Southern Cali girl who grew up eating Mexican candy.
• Mango Fizzle, by Neo USA: 2.75 stars. This mango gel concoction burst out of its small cup upon opening, several tasters claimed very flavorful. I felt it akin to tapioca balls in texture, very chewy and gummy. One taster called it 'refreshing.' I thought it'd be better refrigerated.
• Tangy Chili Powder: 4 stars. Grainy textured red powder, the lovechild of pop rocks and nerds. Its "easy to share" (as it said on the package) qualities were noted as we poured a little into the palm of our hands. It definitely had a sweet and saltiness, then a big hit of funk. Undetermined where the funk comes from. We are left confused, but intrigued.
• Pulpamindo: 4 stars. Extra hot, sour and stinky tamarind candy, texture like a deranged fruit-leather. This is a bold candy — we all are excited by it. My husband even said he was disgusted at first, then mellowed into curiosity then pleasure at the taste, but swore he'd never eat it again. "Maximal Flavor" candy.
• Nucita: 3.6 stars. All tasters felt the flavor closely resembles strawberry Quick milk. I loved this stuff! Very nice. Others said it was too sweet, I thought it was just right. Delicious even. I noted, "overwhelmingly good." Wow! Then again, I'm a sucker for strawberry milk, as evidenced here and here.
• Pico Buzzy: 3.3 stars. Sweet, sour, funky, pleasant, however, the powder gave us sticky hands. Not as good as the other powdered candies.
• La Vaquita: 3 stars. Cinnamon, vaguely caramel-flavored lollipop. I thought it mellow and tasty. Not too sweet.
• Atomic Sour Bomb: 3.5 stars. A red lollipop with sour burst in the middle, my mouth is puckering right now as I type this, it was so sour. Very tasty, like a blowpop on the exterior, but with a crazed sourness within.
Are you a fan of Mexican candy? If so, do tell us about your favorite type and why you love it!
• Buy Mexican candy online: Mex Grocer
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)