In case you weren't aware, last year IKEA, that Swedish furniture store you probably fought with your ex-boyfriend in, announced the addition of a glorious wall of pick-and-mix candies to its lineup of meatballs and modular furniture. There are dozens of chocolates, fudges, sour candies, gummies, and licorices on offer and they're all free of trans fats, artificial colors, high-fructose corn syrup, and GMOs. It's not exactly health food, but if you have a sweet tooth, it's hard to resist. And at $7.99 per pound, the price is right, too.
A few scoopfuls are perfect for a movie snack or to keep in a little jar on your kitchen counter so you can pretend you're the owner of an old-timey candy shop.
In the interest of science, I tried each flavor (giving myself a serious toothache in the process). I have to admit, there were some duds in the heap: the Licorice Octo-Salt, an octopus-shaped brick of salt-covered licorice, made me gag; the #socialmedia candy, with "selfie" and "yolo" sayings tasted like dust and wasn't worth the calories; and a few of the sour candies were a little stale and hard to chew.
I also spit out the too-sweet chocolate rum balls and, to be honest, I found all the chocolates in the bin off-putting. If I want chocolate, I'll reach for a legit dark chocolate bar — not one of these cheap-tasting milk chocolate candies.
Still, I'm not complaining, and there are definitely quite a few winners worth the trek to IKEA to taste. Here are my top 10 finds.
1. Strawberry Vanilla Drop
Say hello to the belle of the sugar ball. I would elbow as many as three elderly woman (maybe more) to get to this candy's bin. The creamy marshmallow base is a perfect mate to the tangy strawberry jelly on top. All dusted with studs of white sugar, it's like each perfect drop was kissed by Tinkerbell herself. This is the perfect candy — a heavenly combination that feels like being asked to prom by a kitten on my birthday.
2. Raspberry Hearts
These may not look like much, but these soft plain Janes stole my heart (no pun intended). It did feel a bit like I was French kissing a disembodied tongue when I chewed it, but to my surprise, I kind of liked it. The not-too-sweet raspberry flavor is a delight, and the size is just right.
3. Peppermint Licorice Chalk
If you like Good & Plenty candies, you'll love these. The crunch of the candy coating, the warmth of the black licorice, and the frosty zing of peppermint paste make these dangerously addictive. I ate so many that my tongue started to swell in protest and my teeth tingled in surrender.
4. Cola Bottles
These candies really capture that classic Coca Cola flavor. They're harder than the other jellies on the list, and if you try to bite them, they'll stick to your teeth like taffy. Best to let these guys melt in your mouth, and savor the vanilla-cinnamon-lemon flavor.
5. Jelly Mice
I was surprised to find myself enjoying these jelly mice so much. Their fat bellies are so satisfying to sink my teeth into and, unlike the flat Swedish fish, these mice are pleasantly toothsome. They seem to come in an array of flavors, but they all basically tasted the same to me.
6. Finnish Licorice Pieces
If you like black licorice, this no-frills licorice log is for you. It has a soft chew and is dainty enough for a pleasing treat.
7. Mini Fried Eggs
These tiny citrus gummies are one of the more whimsical candies in the bins and are best eaten by the handful. They're chewier than you'd think, with a tart twist, thanks to the "yolk" gummy on the top.
8. Race Car
This is one of the most unusual candies in the bunch. It's not quite a jelly and not quite a sucker — it's somewhere in between. After a few minutes the outer shell melts away and a hard jelly emerges from its waxy shell. But this rose- and hibiscus-flavored candy wins for its subtle, flowery flavor and novelty shape. I don't know who decided to have a car-shaped candy taste like flowers, but I applaud that person for their truly inspired vision.
9. Green Frogs
Stop kissing frogs and start chewing them! These little guys pack a pleasing lime-flavored jelly punch. They practically hopped into my mouth. And since they're the size of an adult's thumbprint, they fit on my tongue perfectly.
10. Caramel Twist
If a Werther's Original and a Twizzler had a kid, it'd be this little buttery nugget. The dense rope of caramel-flavored licorice is a must-have for anyone who likes their caramel on the chewy side.