Licorice candy has a very long history and goes back thousands of years. Did you know that licorice was actively used by pharaohs and Roman emperors? Believe it or not, the research showed that the plant was used in ancient Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, and India.
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The candy actually gets its name from the licorice plant. The plant is a herb. However, a similar flavor can be received from the other imitator plants too, such as anise. Today, the term “licorice” is mostly used to refer to specific types of candies, which may or may not contain any licorice extract.
Want to know more? Let’s dive into the sweet and chewy adventure of licorice candy.
- 1 History Of Licorice Candy
- 2 How Licorice Candy Is Made
- 3 Variations on Licorice Candy
- 4 Famous Licorice Candy Brands
- 5 Interesting facts
- 6 Bottom Line
History Of Licorice Candy
Some sources state that licorice candy originated in South Asian countries. From there, it spread to Europe and the Middle East. Actually, in the 12th century, licorice was brought by the Dominican monks to England and was mainly cultivated in the Yorkshire area. It is recorded that the plant was grown in several monasteries in England.
Licorice aroma is received from the plant’s root. It has a very sweet and very specific taste. The ether compound is mainly the cause of its specific taste. Because ether is found in fennel and anise, they are frequently used as substitutes. The sweetness of licorice comes from glycyrrhizin. Eventually, because of its sweetness, it was widely used in the 13th century as a sweetener for bread and cakes.
People mainly used the roots of the licorice plant. Chewing the roots was a way to keep the body hydrated, and therefore, it was widely used by soldiers. The plant is approximately 5 feet tall and normally produces purple or blue flowers.
Licorice candy was slowly formed over the years. At first, the licorice plant had a medical purpose, and it was consumed in a liquid state. Ancient people used its juice as a medication. The plant also contained some substances that helped with the mild inflammation and allergies. Well, it has not lost its original purpose and is still used for medical purposes, mainly to cover the bitter taste of medicines.
Today, various studies prove that licorice can be beneficial for health and can eventually help to prevent the growth of cancer. Even though it is not proven yet, this is still a reason for hope.
How Licorice Candy Is Made
Licorice started to be part of confectionery in the 18th century in Holland. It is a well-known fact that they used to put the licorice roots in the water to make it taste sweeter. Licorice flavors are seen in sweets and candies and are actively used in soft drinks and herbal teas.
Another way of manufacturing is by creating licorice ropes. Ingredients are heated to up to 275 Fahrenheit. There are several ways to receive licorice candies. Most of the time, manufacturers use cornstarch molding. During the process, the licorice in a liquid state is poured into the molds, cooled down, and gets a rubbery consistency and rope shape.
The last step is the addition of beeswax, which makes them shiny. Those candies are made mainly from licorice extract, sugar, and binder. Typical additions are also corn starch and gelatin. Ammonium chloride and molasses give the candies a shiny appearance. After it receives its shape, it is packaged and ready for the market. Larger companies also use extrudes to produce the various forms of licorice ropes available.
Variations on Licorice Candy
Licorice confectionery mainly has a black color. The substance is obtained from the licorice plant’s roots, which are called Glycyrrhiza Glabra. Today, there are many different varieties of this candy made. For example, in the USA, the candy is mainly made from black licorice and comes in the form of chewy ropes or tubes. The color is mainly red. Black licorice is often mixed with anise. For example, it is present in jellybeans. The saltiness of some licorice candies is absorbed by the ammonium chloride.
The most famous licorice candy in the UK is licorice allsorts. However, in Europe, salty licorice is more popular. If we look at the statistics of the Netherlands, the most loved licorice candy is the “Drops”, and mainly the candies contain anise seeds. Anise seeds, as well as anise flavor, are used in many candies in place of licorice roots. Most of the time, the licorice is mixed with mint, laurel, or menthol. The most famous licorice candy in the Netherlands is Zoute Drops.
There are two types of licorice candy: red and black. The difference between them is much more than just a color. Red Licorice is loved by many people. However, did you know that it does not contain licorice extract at all? Mostly, it is just a licorice-like flavor that is created from the other ingredients. The flavors of licorice candy include strawberry, cherry, cinnamon, and raspberry. Those particular types of candies do not taste like licorice and just have a name because of their shape.
Famous Licorice Candy Brands
Now let’s take a look at the most popular candy brands worldwide that produce licorice candy.
Wiley Wallaby Classic Black Licorice
The Classic Black Licorice candy is manufactured by family-owned brand Wiley Wallaby and is an Australian-style candy. It has a chewy texture and a true licorice flavor. Undoubtedly, it is many people’s favorite snack. The brand also has red licorice, gummy bears, popcorn mixes, and fruit snacks.
This black treat is made from real licorice root extract and anise oil to enhance the flavor. Another main ingredient in this candy is palm oil. The product is eco-friendly. The brand makes sure to make its products environment-friendly. Everyone can enjoy this treat without any fear or hesitation because it is vegan candy and has a kosher certification. Classic black licorice is a great snack and treat for both adults and kids.
Darrell Lea’s Soft Australian Licorice
Soft Australian Licorice candies manufactured by Darrell Lea are truly something exceptional. It has an authentic spirit and has been a crafter for more than a century now. Candy is made from real licorice extract and aniseed oil is added. Eco-friendly because palm oil is not used in the treatment. In addition, the candy does not contain GMO additives and is free of preservatives.
The chewy and soft texture of licorice candy will eventually cure the sweet tooth of the pickiest eaters. The candy brand also produces red licorice candies with strawberry and mango flavors. Their treats are sugar-free and come in a resealable paper package.
Twizzlers Black Licorice Candy
When somebody talks about licorice candies, the first thing that comes to our mind is Twizzlers. Their twisted candies come in sweet and spicy flavors and are mainly made from licorice extract and some minor additives. It comes with a soft and chewy texture and is the perfect snack for a family gathering or movie night.
Candy is low-fat and cholesterol and only 150 calories per serving. Everybody can enjoy it because the Twizzler brand has a kosher certification.
The Panda Licorice brand is a manufacturer of delicious black licorice candies made from all-natural ingredients. On the packaging, it is stated that the candy only has 4 ingredients. Those are wheat flour, anise seed oil, flavoring agent, and licorice root extract. This sweet treat contains molasses, is high in protein, and is a great source of energy.
The manufacturer states that the candy is free of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. The shape of it is black and is different from traditional twisted licorice candies. They are smaller in size and have little holes. The packaging has a zip-top, which makes it much easier to take the candy wherever you go and it will remain fresh.
Tara’s Licorice Caramel
If you want to get the licorice candy as a gift, the perfect choice for you would be Tara’s licorice candy, which is, of course, handmade. Licorice Root Candy is a mixture of licorice root extract and anise seed oil flavors, which creates the perfect sweet and sour balance. It has a soft and buttery texture and is very creamy. The main ingredients are corn syrup, natural flavors, heavy cream, condensed milk, brown sugar, and soy lecithin. The candy comes in individual wrappers and is packaged in a beautifully designed jar.
Italian Black Licorice Wheels
If you crave the sweet Italian treat, black licorice wheels are there to help you. The candy is made by the SweetGourmet brand. They come in wheel form, which makes them even more exceptional. It is made from real licorice extract and has no artificial flavors or colorings. These fat-free candy rolls are truly worth a try. They can be perfect Halloween treats. The candy comes in a zip-lock package with approximately 46 wheels.
Red Vines are old-fashioned licorice twisted candies that go exceptionally well with salty popcorn and are the best treat for movie night. The candy has the classic red licorice candy flavor and is manufactured by the American Licorice Company. The candy contains no actual licorice extract. The candy was originally introduced in the cherry flavor. However, it was slightly modified in 1952, and a new Original Red Twist flavor was introduced.
This treat is packaged in small plastic packages and jars. The jar holds the equivalent of approximately 159 candies. The real treat is fat-free, low in sodium, and has halal and kosher certifications. Red Vine and Twizzlers are considered the major competitors on the market.
Fazer Super Salmiakki
Fazer Super Salmiakki is a salty licorice candy. The treat is especially famous and loved in the Nordic countries and Germany. They are pretty different from the regular ones because of their saltiness and offer deeper flavors. You will either love its strange flavor or hate it. The candy is round and hard and is great for those who enjoy the salmiak salt and licorice flavors. The bite-sized sweet treats are coated in salmiak salt powder to increase the flavors and bitterness.
Liquorice Allsorts confectionery is especially popular in Great Britain and the Netherlands. The candy was originally manufactured in England by Geo. Bassett & Co. The treat is also called “Englese Drops.” This licorice candy is made from licorice extract, sugar, coconut, fruit flavoring, gelatine, and anise oil. The packaging contains a mix of various colorful and delicious candies.
Sugarelly is a licorice-flavored soft drink that is especially popular in Britain and has become part of the British tradition. It was especially popular in the 20th century. An interesting fact is that it was not actually sold as a drink. The drink was also called licorice water. The original version of the drink was made with “chemist’s licorice”. The chemist’s licorice was the small parts of the stick, and it was supposed to be dropped in the cold water. After dissolving, the water is infused with the flavor and gets brown.
- Napoleon consumed licorice plants so often that his teeth often turned black.
- “Licorice” is a Greek word and translates as “sweet root”.
- The 12th of April is National Licorice Day and is celebrated every year.
- Licorice was found in Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb.
- The licorice plant root is considered one of the most widely used herbs in the world.
- The sweetness of the candy is not because of the sugar. Licorice is much sweeter than sugar, and it is because of glycyrrhizin.
- Glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sugar.
- Red licorice candy does not contain any licorice extract at all.
Licorice is an amazing plant that has various benefits. Many popular figures throughout history have enjoyed its taste and cured their sweet tooth with it. It is not only a great treat but since ancient times, licorice has been used for medical purposes too.
The amazing bittersweet flavor of licorice is used in many candies, soft drinks, and herbal teas. Today, it is spread all around the world and is loved by many people. When we think of licorice candies, it can be very hard to choose a particular one. All of them are unique and delicious. It is just a matter of taste and preferences.
Share your thoughts in the comment section. Which licorice candy is your favorite and why?
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